It's become one of the more unfortunate holiday traditions. Nowadays, each time Christmas rolls around, we're not only wondering what presents we'll get under the tree this year, but which radio stations will ban, "Baby, It's Cold Outside." The classic holiday melody, written by Broadway composer Frank Loesser in 1944, recorded for the movie "Neptune's Daughter," and rerecorded a few more times by iconic names like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, is now a full-blown scandal.
In the original melody, the male singer tries to persuade his female friend to stay with him a little longer before she walks back out into the cold, wintry night. It used to be a harmless favorite of Christmas enthusiasts. But, as some people started listening to the lyrics more closely, they realized how dated and problematic the tune is in these modern, progressive times. They concluded that it needs to be canceled.
Rolling Stone muses that it was in 2004 when the debate really started to rage over whether the song had to do less with playful banter between a man and a woman and more about date rape. For instance, critics like to spotlight the part where the female singer asks, "What's in this drink?" The scandal has gotten worse in the years since to the point that some radio stations around the country have banned the song. Then some artists began offering their own progressive takes on the song, like this Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon Levitt performance, where the two swapped gender roles.
Singers John Legend and Kelly Clarkson have taken it a step further and changed some of the lyrics altogether. In their new version of the holiday song, the featured male vocalist sounds a bit more...progressive.
"What will my friends think (I think they should rejoice)/ If I have one more drink? (It’s your body and your choice)” and “I really can’t stay (Baby it’s cold outside)/ I’ve gotta go away (I can call you a ride.)"
Some social justice advocates will be thrilled, I'm sure. But plenty of others will be peeved.
Sharon Osbourne is in the latter category. On Monday's episode of "The Talk," the reality star told her audience why she isn't a fan of Legend's revisions.
"What would John Legend if, in 40 years, somebody wanted to rerecord one of his songs and there was some group that found it offensive and somebody went, 'oh I can change the lyrics on that,'" Osbourne wondered. "To me, it's like a master painting. You go and see the beautiful nudes in museums all over the world. They're spectacular. Would it be right for me to go and draw a bikini top on one of those nudes?"
"To change an innocent lyric, what is it, 'your mind and your body?' What the hell are you on about!" Osbourne added.
Osbourne said she "loves" John Legend and considers him a talented musician. But his latest artistic decision has her puzzled.
"Why do this?" she asked. "That's not right."
Her co-hosts nodded along, and the audience seemed to agree with her as well.
Osbourne isn't the only celebrity to take issue with John Legend's version. Dean Martin's daughter Deana is fuming.
"You do not change the lyrics to the song," she said on "Good Morning Britain." "[John] made it more sexual with those words that he has just said. It’s absolutely absurd. I think what he’s done is, he’s stealing the thunder from Frank Loesser’s song and from my dad. He should write his own song if he doesn’t like this one, but don’t change the lyrics. It’s a classic, perfect song."
Susan Loesser, the daughter of the original composer, was asked on "Inside Edition" last year what her dad would think of the scandal his song has unintentionally created.
"You wouldn't be able to air" what he'd say, she joked.
And so the debate rages on.
If I could add my two cents...it's too early for Christmas music!