John Legend hopes to save ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ with a focus on consent

R&B singer John Legend.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Leave it to even-keeled John Legend to remedy the “rapey” controversy that last year ensnared the classic Christmas tune “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

The EGOT winner behind “All of Me” and “Glory” has rewritten and rerecorded the iconic song for his 2020 holiday album, with a new emphasis on consent. The rewrite even boasts the lyrics, “your body, and your choice.”

The makeover comes after a bevy of radio stations removed the song from their holiday rotations last year over its dated lines, which some viewed as “rapey” (though some didn’t) in the wake of the #MeToo movement.


Legend has updated Frank Loesser’s 1944 call-and-response lyrics — “I ought to say ‘No, no, no, sir’” and “What’s in this drink?” — with the help of “Insecure” and “Black Lady Sketch Show” writer Natasha Rothwell. He sings the duet with his “The Voice” costar Kelly Clarkson, and it will be released this holiday season on the expanded version of his first Christmas album, “A Legendary Christmas: The Deluxe Edition.”

Cleveland radio station WDOK decided last week to remove the classic song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from its holiday rotation over lyrics that, through a #MeToo lens, now seem a little rape-y.

Dec. 5, 2018

The rewrite goes like this:

Clarkson: “What will my friends think...
Legend: “I think they should rejoice”
Clarkson: “...if I have one more drink?”
Legend: “It’s your body, and your choice.”

“The song’s every bit as fun and swinging as the original, and its newfound sensitivity feels genuine, not performative,” according to the November Vanity Fair profile of Legend and his wife, Chrissy Teigen, where the revelation was made. (The rest of the piece is full of the #RelationshipGoals we’ve come to expect from the famous couple: their vitriol for President Trump and love of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a frank discussion of former collaborator Kanye West and the reason Legend “canceled” R. Kelly.)

The reimagined version will follow a “modern and irreverent narrative,” Legend’s reps said in a statement, as described in the following verse that appears to beckon a ride-sharing service:

Clarkson: “I really can’t stay”
Legend: “Baby, it’s cold outside”
Clarkson: “I’ve gotta go away”
Legend: “I can call you a ride”
Clarkson: “This evening has been...”
Legend: “So glad that you dropped in”
Clarkson: “ very nice”
Legend: “Time spent with you is paradise”
Clarkson: “My mother will start to worry”
Legend: “I’ll call a car and tell ‘em to hurry”

The album will also include the new tracks “This Christmas,” “My Favorite Things” and “Christmas in New Orleans.”