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