‘Baby, It’s Cold Out­side’ gets up­dated for the age of in­formed con­sent


Chicago Tri­bune

I can imag­ine a time when it seemed dar­ling for a hus­band and wife to go around singing a lit­tle Christ­mas ditty about a randy man try­ing to se­duce his re­luc­tant date, as com­poser Frank Loesser and his wife, Lynn, ap­par­ently did in the 1940s.

And I can give thanks that I didn’t live in that time.

“Baby, It’s Cold Out­side,” which sets a creepy, win­try scene to mu­sic ( I ought to say no, no, no sir / Mind if I move in closer?), sounds hope­lessly dated ( Say, what’s in this drink?) in an age of in­formed con­sent and egal­i­tar­ian re­la­tion­ships, wherein plead­ing and ply­ing women with al­co­hol is frowned upon.

Sex, af­ter all, is a dish best served mu­tual.

So the song was ripe for ei­ther re­tire­ment or an up­date, and Min­nesota cou­ple Ly­dia Liza and Josiah Le­man­ski set­tled on the lat­ter.

“At this point in time, the orig­i­nal song is to­tally un­ac­cept­able,” Liza, 22, a Twin Ci­ties mu­si­cian, told me. “It’s got pretty preda­tory un­der­tones. There’s no way around it, es­pe­cially with our gen­er­a­tion.” Le­man­ski, 25, agreed. “The ‘What’s in this drink’ line? Our gen­er­a­tion hears that as roofies.”

So they de­cided to write a new ver­sion of the song, which uses a light touch to make the song more palat­able, but still play­ful.

I re­ally can’t stay / Baby I’m fine with that

“We wrote it ex­actly 50/50,” Le­man­ski said.

My mother will start to worry / Call her so she knows that you’re com­ing

As soon as they posted the song on SoundCloud, lis­ten­ers be­gan to weigh in on the site with pas­sion.

There’s “This is pre­cious!” and “Love this! Thank you!”

And then there’s “You god-aw­ful, eas­ily fright­ened and ad­dicted to vic­tim­hood mo­rons” and “Fem­i­nism is can­cer.”

Le­man­ski’s man­hood is re­peat­edly ques­tioned, and they’re called names I can’t re­peat here.

The song couldn’t be more in­no­cent ( Say what is this drink? / Pome­gran­ate LaCroix), so the hos­til­ity is cu­ri­ous, to say the least.

But Liza and Le­man­ski aren’t fazed.

“We’ve had way more beau­ti­ful, in­spir­ing, pos­i­tive feed­back than any­thing neg­a­tive,” Liza said.

Plus, they’ve drawn na­tional at­ten­tion from the likes of CNN and Peo­ple, and they landed a record­ing deal with non­profit la­bel Rock the Cause. They recorded the song pro­fes­sion­ally last week at Pearl Record­ing Stu­dio in Min­neapo­lis, and they ex­pect it to be widely avail­able by Dec. 16 on iTunes, Spo­tify, Tidal and other stream­ing sites.

They plan to do­nate the pro­ceeds from the song to char­i­ties that aid bat­tered women and sur­vivors of sex­ual as­sault.

“It was im­por­tant to us to open a con­ver­sa­tion about con­sent and make sure peo­ple’s sto­ries get told and the rhetoric gets changed,” Liza said. “We thought this was the best way to show how far we’ve come.”


A screen­shot from a YouTube video of “Nep­tune’s Daugh­ter,” the mu­si­cal ro­man­tic com­edy film that orig­i­nally fea­tured the song “Baby, It’s Cold Out­side,” in 1949.

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