Remake of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’: Political Correctness Gone Overboard?
A new remake of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” replaces controversial sexist lines like “Beautiful, what’s your hurry?” to “I’ll call a car and tell ’em to hurry.”
Following last year’s controversy over the classic holiday song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” pop stars John Legend and Kelly Clarkson have recorded a new, revised version this year—but is it just political correctness gone overboard?
With lyrics like ‘I really can’t stay / But baby, it’s cold outside’ and ‘Say, what’s in this drink?’, as part of the back-and-forth between a man trying to convince a woman to stay the night despite her hesitations, it seemed inevitable that the 1959 song would draw attention in our age of #MeToo and hyper-awareness of gender equality.
Social media and public figures were divided on the controversy last year, with the song’s defenders saying it was simply a harmless albeit cheeky tune about flirting, and why mess with beloved classics?
Detractors, of course, find this permissive attitude as the very root of what can snowball into greater issues of sexism and assault.
This holiday season, the brand new, hopeful remake is stirring a similar response—not winning anyone over from the other side, seemingly.
Deana Martin, the daughter of the late Dean Martin who recorded the famous 1959 version, was clearly unimpressed—even incensed by the remake.
“I don’t think that John Legend should’ve changed the lyrics. I think leave a tender moment alone,” she told “Good Morning America” on Friday.
The remake replaces controversial sexist lines like “Beautiful, what’s your hurry?” to “I’ll call a car and tell ’em to hurry.”
She went on to say that the remake was “absurd” and that Legend had made the song even more sexual with his new lyrics, and accused him of “stealing the thunder from [original songwriter] Frank Loesser’s song and from my dad. 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.”
Martin also defended her late father and the song’s lyricist, Frank Loesser, reiterating that her father would never “do anything offensive” and that the song was never meant to “glorify” date-rape.
Dean Martin’s classic version has been a holiday staple since he recorded it for his 1959 album, A Winter Romance. It has been covered many times by several artists including Dolly Parton, Rod Stewart, Michael Bublé, Idina Menzel, and Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone for the Christmas film, Elf.
It appears Legend himself was also aware of the probable backlash his new duet might stir, tweeting: “NEW VERSION of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside! A welcome update or ‘PC Culture run amok & destroying everything great in the history of music?’ (?) You decide,” on Friday.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is hardly the only work of art or entertainment that can be deemed troublesome in our current politically correct and morally conscious times. Art is often a reflection of its era, and if certain cultural attitudes have changed, it’s inevitable that some art can appear antiquated, even offensive.
The added complication is that, such as the case of this holiday song, legions of fans have grown up loving it and will have a clear bias for it, even if our culture has allegedly rendered it obsolete.
On that note, time will only tell if the 2019 reboot of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is a relevant reinvention—or irrelevant political correctness.
Legend and Clarkson (both coaches on singing competition show “The Voice”) dropped their remake at midnight on Thursday night. It is part of an expanded version of Legend’s album A Legendary Christmas: The Deluxe Edition, available now on amazon.com.