“Baby It’s Cold Outside” An Outdated Original and An Inverted Remake


Dylan Ramos, Journalist

Recently John Legend and Kelly Clarkson, two very popular song artists, decided to re-write and release a new version of  the classic 1949 Christmas jam “Baby, it’s cold outside.” The song features lyrics that recently have received heat due to it’s suggestively date-rape like set of events, heat which began late in 2018 alongside the #MeToo movement. Significantly less relevant than the overhanging objectification of women that was exposed to pervert the Hollywood film industry, the “Baby, it’s cold outside” controversy was at first no more but another blip of exposure for the exploitative nature in entertainment towards women. It quickly faded as a drop into the wave of culture wokeness.

Grammy & Oscar winner John Legend makes revisions to the romantic song more than a woke soapbox stand, image by Granandres10 on the WikiMedia commons

That was until late October of this year, when John Legend and Kelly Clarkson together officially unveiled their own remake of the lyrics. The two songs can be found below, the original from a 1949 musical and the next uploaded earlier last month.

To know what people thought about remaking such an enjoyed but at the same time outdated and controversial classic, I asked Mathew Lin, a Sophomore at ERHS, what he thought on it.

“I think that people shouldn’t remake the song because even though it’s really popular it may cause an outrage…” Indeed that was what happened shortly after the songs release. Many think it was not worth redoing such an oldie for the intention making it politically appropriate.  He also went on to add, “It also depends on how serious the song is and if its like about ethnicity or sexuality.” This is a good point to make too, because the song’s subject matter of date-rape is much more serious than the value of a nostalgic classic.

Now, obviously these two (or technically three) versions are very different. However they have more similarities in them one would think. Obviously, all for one end with their lovers spending the night together, and carry on through a slow Christmas tune. The woman (and one man) also insists to leave at first, feigning politeness, before joining their partner, agreeing the night might as well be spent together. They’re also both intended for quasi but not fully romantic audiences, the original coming from a Rom Com and the other having noticeable comedic elements in it’s make.

This is were the even deeper similarities run that may be unseen, in a contrast between the two works. Both songs are written satirically, emphasizing the choice in dialogue between both characters to strange extents. In the original version, the comedic aspects of the scene is in the physical comedy as well as musical. When the man paces at the women’s heels, eyes wide in want, the actor is caricaturing himself making fun of the time’s simplistic and persistent courtship rituals of a man chasing and in some way ensnaring a woman’s approval.

At the time of the song’s release, women were put in a very disadvantageous position culturally. They were very popularly commercialized as servants and caretakers to a household, part of the set of a man with his woman and children. The courtship being so objectifying of women at the time, the comedy is taken to a level which today has sparked controversy, specifically at the moment the lady asks in visible distaste, “say, what’s in this drink?” Implying that she has been drugged.

A 1940’s military advertisement reinforcing associations with sedentary life and women, Howard Chandler Christy, 1917

The perversion of this crime is obvious, however what this joke says about the original work is that it was from a very different time in culture. Again this was released in 1949, part of the Neptune’s Daughter musical romantic comedy. It was also released by Metro Goldwyn-Mayer, one of the more gigantic bodies in the monopoly-esque industry who released 30 other movies in the same year as Neptune’s Daughter alone.

Nearly seventy years later it’s still talked about and beloved by fans, even by families and gatherings for the holidays, defended from it’s controversy for it’s conveyance of the bliss of simpler times. This can also be seen however as the bliss of ignorance.

Illustration of original song, via Dylan Ramos

In truth that’s the only defensible stance that could be taken against the original’s accumulated controversy. Women were simply at a more submissive position at the time. It might be even plausible to imagine somebody who watched the screen enamored at song and stage, who laughed at the caricature of a heel-chasing and overly advert man while she herself was in the arms of her own husband, advert, intrudingly persistent, and controlling, but nonetheless wedded with her.

Overall the song is a Christmas rom-com making fun of lovers snowed in both onscreen and off, that takes too lightly the extreme measures of how  much a man would take advantage of over a woman. The reasoning behind this might be the much more highly polarized sense of romance, and dominance between the two genders in their culture at the time, but nonetheless it stands the usage of such humor has aged to negate the song’s relevancy as a cheery and quirky Christmas-party classic. This can be especially considered being celebration on the Holidays can involve young adult drinking. These are scenes that expose young women to aforementioned exploits, so having such lyrics float around seems ridiculous.

Image of scene in song, via Dylan Ramos

Now, what about all this draws similarity and contrasts between the original song and the remake? The original song intended to make fun of the day’s romantic culture, having the man using snow and Christmas to take advantage of a woman in a vulnerable situation.  The remake sublty does the same, being rom-com themed as well, but instead makes fun of the women using her vulnerable position and the holiday to try and elicit a protest from the man at her leaving. Essentially, the roles of who intends to manipulate the situation in their romantic favor is swapped, leaving the original theme of reluctant but eventual, holiday-themed loving mostly unchanged, and still spinning the premise of the original scene on it’s head.

What did other people think of the remake? I asked Alonso Hernandez, a senior at Corona High School, what he thought. On the song being a remake of the original to address it’s political correctness, he said “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”

This may be interpreted a number of ways. However I think it can chiefly be seen enforcing the fact the song was done and a success, but by this time has aged out of cultural celebration. The original intention however, to promote holiday romanticism between a man and a woman, remains in Legend’s version.