John Legend’s update of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ slammed as ‘absurd’

John Legend has rewritten a holiday favorite with more #MeToo-friendly lyrics, but the daughter of one of its most popular singers has a problem with it

John Legend (L), Dean Martin (Getty Images)

Just in time for the holiday season, artists John Legend and Kelly Clarkson have recorded a new, more ‘sensitive’ version of the classic duet Baby It’s Cold Outside after criticisms from #MeToo activists about its lyrics.

But now the daughter of one of its most recognizable singers from years back, Dean Martin, has spoken out against the rewrite, stating that his new “woke” lyrics are ruining the legacy of one of her father’s signature songs.

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The cozy holiday song written and first performed by Frank Loesser in 1944 has been a staple in many homes since the duet was covered by Pearl Bailey and Oran Thaddeus “Hot Lips” Page in 1949 and subsequently by others like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan; Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton; and Sammy Davis Jr. and Carmen McRae. The version sang by Martin and Marilyn Maxwell was released back in 1959.

But in light of concerns from activists who believe the song encourages and normalizes sexual assault and date rape, Legend — who openly spoke out against sexual assault defendant R. Kelly — rewrote parts of the lyrics.

According to the Daily Mail, where it initially goes, “I’ve got to go away, but baby it’s cold outside’ in songwriter Frank Loesser original, Legend’s revamped version now has him singing, “I’ve got to go away, I can call you a ride.”

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In response, Deana Martin has slammed the re-write, saying that the new words are “absurd,” that they take the magic out of the song, and actually make it more provocative.

Asked if she was offended by Legend’s lyrics, Martin told the Daily Mail, “Absolutely. You do not change the lyrics to the song. He’s made it more sexual with those words he’s said. It’s absolutely absurd.”

“I think what he’s done is he’s stealing the thunder from Frank Loesser’s song and my dad,” she continued. “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.”

Some radio stations chose to forego playing the song due to misgivings about it. Susan Loesser, Frank Loesser’s daughter insisted that the context of the song when it was written had nothing to do with date rape, but was actually something for her mother and father to sing at parties. “I think my father would be furious at that,” she told NBC News in 2018. “People used to say ‘what’s in this drink’ as a joke. You know, this drink is going straight to my head so what’s in this drink? Back then it didn’t mean you drugged me.”

But Martin said her father, who died in 1995, wouldn’t even have taken Legend’s version seriously and that the lyrics should have been left the way they were originally written.

“He would have laughed,” she said when asked how her father would have felt. “He wouldn’t care about something like this, it’s just too absurd for him. It was a fabulous song and it’s been recorded by so many different people. My dad didn’t care about things like that.”

“He was just such a great guy and [its] such a fabulous song that I think John should have just left it alone.”