Every year, the Christmas songs we know and love are re-recorded and re-purposed, in an effort to bring them right up to date for a modern market.
This year, the lyrics to one of the most iconic yet controversial Christmas songs ever made has been rewritten in the wake of the #MeToo era.
John Legend has updated the lyrics to the 1944 song Baby, It’s Cold Outside, and re-recorded it with fellow The Voice coach Kelly Clarkson.
It is a song with alternate lines sung by a man and woman in which he attempts to convince her not to risk a journey home in bad weather and to instead stay and have another drink.
Critics of the track say that lines such as, “say what’s in this drink? (No cabs to be had out there)”, could be a reference to date rape.
Legend revealed the new lyrics during an interview with Vanity Fair, adding he collaborated on them with Natasha Rothwell – a comedian known for her work on Saturday Night Live and Insecure.
The updated recording includes the lyrics:
“I really can’t stay (Baby it’s cold outside)
“I’ve gotta go away (I can call you a ride)
“This evening has been… (So glad that you dropped in)
“…so very nice (Time spent with you is paradise)
“My mother will start to worry (I’ll call a car and tell ’em to hurry).”
“What will my friends think… (I think they should rejoice.)
“…if I have one more drink? (It’s your body, and your choice.)”
The new consent-promoting version comes after a radio station in Cleveland, Ohio, announced in 2018 it was to stop playing the song, after complaints from listeners.
Star 102 host Glenn Anderson said society was different when the original song was released, and he did not think it had a place in modern music.
More radio stations followed suit, but it led to a public backlash which in turn helped the version sung by Dean Martin (alongside a chorus of women) in 1959 make the Billboard top 10 in the US.
The original lyrics were written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, and was originally used in 1949 film Neptune’s Daughter, earning it the Oscar for best original song.
Since then, artists such as Michael Buble and Idina Menzel, Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews and Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera have covered the song.
The updated track will feature on a new version of Legend’s Christmas album, released later in the year.