Remaking ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’? Sexy move
It was fun while it lasted, but the “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” debate is officially over.
A few weeks back, we learned that singer John Legend rewrote Frank Loesser’s little ditty for his 2020 holiday album.
Last week, People magazine crowned Legend the Sexiest Man Alive.
Ergo, tweaking “Baby,
It’s Cold Outside” to play up mutual consent is not snowflaky. It’s sexy.
I don’t make the rules. I just report them.
“Introducing … the EGOTSMA,” People magazine announced breathlessly. (At least I picture them announcing it breathlessly.) (EGOT is a person who has won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. EGOTSMA is all those things plus Sexiest Man Alive.)
“Unabashedly in love with his wife Chrissy Teigen and a doting father to their kids, 3½-year-old daughter Luna and 18month-old son Miles,” the article continues, “Legend has become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars while remaining as down-toearth as ever.”
Later, the article mentions his “buttery voice and unparalleled musical skills,” as well as his trepidation about stepping into the Sexiest Man Alive shoes. “Everyone’s going to be picking me apart to see if I’m sexy enough to hold this title,” Legend told People. “I’m also following Idris Elba, which is not fair and is not nice to me!”
(Humility! So sexy!) (Also, good point! Idris Elba is impossibly hard to live up to, sexy-wise!)
Anyway, back to “Baby,
It’s Cold Outside.”
No one is sadder to see this debate end than I am. It had become a holiday tradition, like zoo lights or dinner at the Walnut Room next to the giant tree: Radio stations fire up “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Someone writes a new version or complains about a new version or decides to play the original version on an in-your-face-snowflake endless loop. I write about it. Readers invite me to “take your overactive sense of grievance, turn it sideways and shove it where the sun don’t shine!”
But all good things must come to an end, and I’m certain we’ll find something else to argue about now that this particular imbroglio has been settled.
What’s that? Revisit my stance on the song one last time for good measure? Oh, fine.
The 1944 version, sung as a back-and-forth between Loesser and his wife, Lynn, leaves me utterly lukewarm. Neither incensed nor charmed.
I hear it as a wintry relic from a time when women had to pretend they weren’t into sex, even if they were, and men were socialized to press ahead with their flirtation/coercion, just in case her no meant, “I want to, but I shouldn’t.” (Shouldn’t have sex. Shouldn’t want sex. Shouldn’t disappoint my mother, my father, my brother who will be there at the door.)
I hear the updated versions, including the one Legend just recorded with Kelly Clarkson, as harmless attempts to create a different sort of wintry scene, one in which we take women at their word: If she says tonight’s not the night, then tonight’s not the night. Because if tonight were the night, she’d feel free to say as much.
I don’t understand the hostility to the new versions, nor the rigid protection of the original. I don’t understand what ideals and values are endangered when a woman and man agree equally to sex. I think enthusiastic consent is better for everyone.
The Legend/Clarkson version goes like this:
“I really can’t stay
I’ve got to go away
This evening has been
So very nice
My mom will start to worry
My daddy will be pacing the floor
So, really, I’d better scurry
But maybe just a half a drink more
What will my friends think?
If I have one more drink?
And so on. Cute. Playful. Consensual. Sexy.
Case closed. Game over. Onward.
Join the Heidi Stevens Balancing Act Facebook group, where she continues the conversation around her columns and hosts occasional live chats.
Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winner John Legend was named Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine, taking last year’s crown from Idris Elba.