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John Legend and Kelly Clarkson’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” Underscores Consent

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People magazine’s 2019 “Sexiest Man Alive,” John Legend has teamed up with Kelly Clarkson to record a politically correct version of the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Their rendition of the holiday classic is just the latest update to lyrics that in the era of #MeToo sound more predatory than romantic. 

The jingle, penned by Frank Loesser in 1944, and popularized by Dean Martin in 1959 was pulled from the airwaves at a Cleveland radio station last year. Instead of spreading holiday cheer, some say the song—in which a woman tries to leave a man’s home as he persuades her to stay because of the winter storm—potentially condones date rape and consent violation.

Legend co-wrote the new lyrics with Natasha Rothwell of HBO’s “Insecure,” which follows previous efforts to dispense with the problematic lyrics. In this case, Legend is the supportive date who understands and even facilitates Clarkson’s desire to leave by offering to call her an Uber.  And wording like “I simply must go/But baby it’s cold outside/The answer is no/But baby it’s cold outside,” are replaced with “I simply should go /Text me when you get home/ Oh, I’m supposed to say no /Mm, I guess that’s respectable.”

Deana Martin, daughter of singer Dean Martin, praised the artists as “fabulous entertainers,” but told Fox News that “It’s gone a little crazy. I think that John Legend and Kelly, their version is, has brought it, made it more sexual.”

The original tune remains a holiday favorite, with Dean Martin’s version reaching the top 10 of the Billboard Digital Songs Sales Chart.

This week Clarkson, who interviewed Legend’s wife, Chrissy Teigan, on her NBC talk show, expressed shock at the backlash. “Because of the #MeToo movement, they pulled ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside,’ from … a lot of radio stations at Christmas. I love that song!” Clarkson said. “Both John and I have cut ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside,’ the original. We like the original. But we noticed that a lot of people didn’t. So we’re like, ‘Oh, let’s just give them another option,’ or whatever, and apparently, we killed Christmas!”

Cassandra Etienne is a freelance reporter and video journalist based in New Jersey. Her multimedia and documentary projects reflect an interest in cultural reporting, and in covering social issues such as civil rights, women's health, and education and healthcare reforms.