John Legend’s Updated “Baby It’s Cold Outside” Is Out
Well, it’s finally arrived. Today is the day they round up every last master, 33, 45, 78, cassette, CD, MP3, and video recording of the Dean Martin’s version of Baby It’s Cold Outside, douse them with lighter fluid, torch them, collect the ashes and put them in a rocket capsule before launching them into space. And someone should dig up Dean’s corpse to slap the martini out of his hand, just to be sure. John Legend and Kelly Clarkson’s updated version is available today, and it supersedes any and all of the hundreds of recordings of the original 1949 Frank Loesser song. I mean, it must have gone down that way, otherwise, why all the fuss?
In John’s version, the lyrics traditionally assigned to the women are barely touched at all. So John gets to riff about and Uber driver named Murray and drop Planned Parenthood catchphrases while Kelly is left nattering on about what everybody will think. But she does it beautifully, I just love Kelly’s voice. Here’s the song, but be warned. As soon as you listen to it, you’ll never be able to listen to any other version ever again unless you happen to travel to Mars with a matter-reconstructor because if you’ll recall, all physical and digital copies have been launched into space. Your brain is the last frontier for the original lyrics to BICO. As soon as you hear the new ones, the old ones will be erased from your consciousness forever. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.
If we’re going to nitpick, oh and believe me, we are (in #thesetryingtimes? C’mon!), I’d say that some of the lyric changes are actually worse from a sexual politics standpoint. In the original, the lady sings “the neighbors might think/say what’s in this drink?,” but Kelly sings “what would my friends think/if I have one more drink?,” which effectively minimizes her agency. The line “say what’s in this drink?” is a sly wink, not a literal question. But there’s nothing cute about worrying if your friends think you’re a ho. If they do, get better friends!
I’ll be interested to see if they make a music video for this because the song, old lyrics or new, can either be extremely icky, or fun and flirty, depending on the performance. Here are two versions from the 1949 musical Neptune’s Daughter which popularized the song (Dean’s version didn’t come out for another 10 years). Please don’t ask me how this got missed in the purge.
Baby, the headline here is that the handsy creep in the first version is none other than Ricardo Motherfucking Montalbán. Put that in your drink and chug it!