After heated backlash and even pointed criticism from media figures, Kelly Clarkson and John Legend have now publicly defended their woke rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
Speaking with Vanity Fair, Legend revealed earlier this month that he and songwriter Natasha Rothwell rewrote the song to reflect a more #MeToo friendly mindset, going so far as to include such feminist lyrics as “it’s your body and your choice.” He performed the male voice while Kelly Clarkson performed the female part.
“The new lyrics hear Clarkson sing ‘What will my friends think?,’ with Legend replying: ‘I think they should rejoice.’ Kelly, 37, then sings: ‘… if I have one more drink?,’ with John singing: ‘It’s your body, and your choice,’” Metro reported of the song changes.
Both Sharon Osbourne and Dean Martin’s daughter, Deana Martin, blasted the song changes as an unnecessary reworking to an otherwise wonderful Christmas classic.
“You do not change the lyrics to the song,” Deana Martin told “Good Morning Britain.” “He’s made it more sexual with those words that he has just said. It’s absolutely absurd. I think what he’s done is, he’s stealing the thunder from Frank Loesser’s song and from my dad,” said Martin. “He should write his own song if he doesn’t like this one, but don’t change the lyrics. It’s a classic, perfect song. [Dean] would say it’s absurd. I think John should’ve just left it alone.”
Sharon Osbourne (wife of Ozzy) also said that Legend should have left the song alone.
“To change an innocent lyric, to what is it, ‘Your mind and your body’? What the hell are you on? That’s ridiculous,” Osbourne said. “I have to tell you, I love John Legend. I love John Legend’s wife, his family. He’s an amazing artist that I really respect. Why do you do this? That’s not right.”
Speaking with People, John Legend said that the critics have read too much into the changes, arguing that it’s just another version of the song.
“First of all, there’s no side to be on,” Legend said. “It’s just another version of the song. If you don’t wanna listen to it, you don’t have to. No one’s saying you can’t listen to the old version. Those versions all exist. People make new versions of songs all the time and we thought it’d be fun to update the song and make it more current.”
The current “Sexiest Man Alive” went on to say that he and songwriter Natasha Rothwell wanted to take a more comedic approach.
“We wanted a comedic angle to it so I asked Natasha Rothwell from Insecure to be my co-writer on it,” continued Legend. “She came up with so many funny ideas and we used so much of it and made a brand new version, one that’s kind of updated for now. And we had a lot of fun making it.”
Speaking with John Legend’s wife, Chrissy Teigen, Kelly Clarkson said that they simply wanted to make a new rendition of the song and were not offended by the original version.
“Both John and I have actually cut ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside,’ the original, and we like the original, but we noticed a lot of people didn’t,” said Clarkson. “We were like, ‘let’s just give them another option’ or whatever, and apparently, we killed Christmas.”
Chrissy Teigan, however, suggested that the original song had date rape connotations.
“Well then Sharon assumed you guys like burned them all in the backyard or something and that they can never listen to the original ever again,” said Teigan. “If I can’t have my creepy song, it’s not Christmas. I want date-rapey songs.”
During Christmas last year, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” became the center of national controversy when some feminists, unable to see the nuance in the song’s flirtatious nature, deemed it a date rape anthem. This prompted a Cleveland radio station to ban the song entirely after some listeners complained it sent the wrong message in the #MeToo era. However, the song’s creator, Frank Loesser, intended it as a flirtatious song between a man and a woman on a cold winter’s night, with critics typically overlooking the part where the woman sings, “baby it’s cold outside” in unison with her male partner — thus seemingly signifying that the two were always in sync.
Frank Loesser’s daughter, Susan Loesser, asserted at the time that the song was originally performed at parties by her mom and dad, neither of whom ever intended the lyrics to be a date rape anthem.
“Way before #Me Too, I would hear from time to time people call it a date rape song,” said Loesser. “I would get annoyed because it’s a song my father wrote for him and my mother to sing at parties. People used to say ‘what’s in this drink’ as a joke. You know, this drink is going straight to my head so what’s in this drink? Back then it didn’t mean you drugged me.”