If you think the holiday standard “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” feels a little (or a lot) sexually coercive, manipulative, or just plain gross, a quick Google search will lead you to countless people who agree.
John Legend is one of them. According to a Vanity Fair profile, the singer has written new lyrics that a male vocalist might sing without sounding like a slobbering cartoon wolf. He’s recorded a version with Kelly Clarkson, his fellow judge on The Voice, and apparently it goes a little something like this...
What will my friends think? (I think they should rejoice.)
If I have one more drink? (It’s your body, and your choice.)
Say what you will about those lines, but they certainly do rhyme.
Anyway there’s of course already been an indignant right-wing backlash stirred up by the Indignant Right-Wing Backlash Industry. And the funny thing about that (and by “funny” I mean “excruciatingly depressing”) is that the meme-addled Facebook Boomers now barking about their First Amendment right to sing about roofying a woman’s cocktail forget that they complained about the same damn thing just three years ago.
In 2016, local musician Lydia Liza rewrote the Frank Loesser tune to emphasize respect and consent and recorded it with Josiah Lemanski.
I really can't stay (Baby I'm fine with that)
I've got to go away (Baby I'm cool with that)
This evening has been (Been hoping you get home safe)
So very nice (I'm glad you had a real good time)
The recording not only got attention locally; national media noticed as well. The duo even subjected themselves to the uncomprehending smirk of Tucker Carlson for a full five minutes. And the retooling offended the sorts of people who like to complain that everyone is too easily offended nowadays and probably caused them to shout “Merry Christmas” a little more defensively at some hapless cashiers.
So when word of the Legend/Clarkson reworking got out, Minnesotans, who hate being overlooked (and, more importantly, love the opportunity to point out that they’ve been overlooked) tweeted frenetically at the singer to let him know his idea wasn’t original.
And maybe someone’s listening. Though neither Legend nor Clarkson has yet acknowledged the Liza/Lemanski version, a New York Times story does mention it, and, hell, they never get anything about Minnesota right.
It’s worth noting that proceeds from the Liza/Lemanski recording were distributed to organizations that assist survivors of sexual violence through the local nonprofit Rock the Cause Records.
Now that’s an idea no one would mind Legend and Clarkson copying,