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John Legend and Kelly Clarkson Record Feminist Take on ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ for #MeToo Era

Why Global Citizens Should Care
It’s a crucial tenet of feminism: understanding that sex without consent is rape. Global Goal 5 aims to tackle the systemic causes that define gender inequality — and examining how we tell stories of sexual interaction in popular culture is an important step. Join our movement and take action here to fight for gender equality around the world.

A feminist festive surprise has just dropped, perfectly primed for supermarket playlists across the land: a #MeToo-inspired reimagining of problematic fave Baby It’s Cold Outside.

John Legend and Kelly Clarkson — two artists who have previously graced the Global Citizen Festival stage in New York — have teamed up with Insecure writer and actress Natasha Rothwell to resuscitate the controversial Christmas classic to emphasise themes of consent.

The song, written by Frank Loesser in 1944, has come under fire in recent years for it’s questionable descriptions of what’s meant to be a romantic relationship — with serious overtones of controlling behaviour and sexual harassment. 

Just one example is the original line: “Say what's in this drink? (No cabs to be had out there)” — often interpreted as alluding to date-rape drugs. 

But the updated version will, among other things, change that to: "What will my friends think? (I think they should rejoice) / If I have one more drink? (It's your body, and your choice)."

Last year, the song was banned from the playlists of Star 102, a radio station in Cleveland, Ohio, after complaints from listeners. Host Glenn Anderson called the track’s depiction of seduction without consent "manipulative and wrong" as debate raged online around the world.

“The world we live in is extra sensitive now, and people get easily offended,” Anderson reportedly said. “But in a world where #MeToo has finally given women the voice they deserve, the song has no place."

The updated track will appear on Legend’s upcoming record, an expanded version of his 2018 album “A Legendary Christmas.” It emphasises choice, and pictures the guy in the story as someone adeptly avoiding the archetypal male role of overbearing dud.

Another line is now: “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).”

Baby It’s Cold Outside has been covered by everyone from Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton to Jessica Simpson and former hubby Nick Lachey. But sometimes it’s not just about the lyrics — optics have proved to be a bit of a problem too.

One version pairs with a music video featuring Tom Jones cast as the devil and Cerys Matthews as his prisoner in a chain-clad birdcage, for example. Another from Elf sees Will Ferrell sneak up on Zooey Deschanel’s character while she takes a shower for a highly uninvited duet

Basically, consent is awesome — and pop culture is the perfect place to make that message clear. A Legendary Christmas: the Deluxe Edition is out Nov. 8.