John Legend and Kelly Clarkson's new version of 'Baby it's Cold Outside' will celebrate consent
Instagram / John Legend

The Christmas classic, "Baby, It's Cold Outside," is arguably more controversial than the "Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays" debate. Some say it's the musical embodiment of rape culture. In 2018, it was pulled by some radio stations. "[I]n a world where #MeToo has finally given women the voice they deserve, the song has no place," said a DJ on Cleveland's WDOK, the first station to ban the song.

Others say the song is actually meant to be sexually empowering. The woman is actually fighting against society's expectations for woman, not the man who's trying to get her to stay. She wants to say yes, but feels that she has to say no.

Others, still, think it's not even a Holiday song and shouldn't be included on Christmas albums. Just because it's cold doesn't mean it's Christmas – or even December. It would work just as well on New Year's Eve.

Regardless of historical context, women have taken back their sexual power, which includes the right to say no – to both society and potential sexual partners. And now we'll have a version of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" to reflect that. John Legend is updating the song for 2019 by replacing some of the more problematic lyrics with words that celebrate consent.

RELATED: John Legend nailed why calling MS-13 gang members 'animals' is a problem


Legend worked with "Insecure" actress Natasha Rothwell to update the lyrics for 2019. Legend sings the duet with Kelly Clarkson, and it will be included on an updated version of Legend's Christmas album, "A Legendary Christmas." The new lyrics will include lines like:

I really can't stay (Baby, it's cold outside)
I've gotta go away (I can call you a ride)
This evening has been (So glad that you dropped in)
So very nice (Time spent with you is paradise)
My mother will start to worry (I'll call a car and tell 'em to hurry)

And:

What will my friends think... (I think they should rejoice)

...if I have one more drink? (It's your body, and your choice)

We'll have to wait until November 8th to hear it, but Legend previewed the song with Vanity Fair. "The song's every bit as fun and swinging as the original, and its newfound sensitivity feels genuine, not performative," writes Vanity Fair.

RELATED: The money bail industry harms the most vulnerable. John Legend wants to end it now.

The song was written in 1944 by songwriter Frank Loesser and his wife, Lynn Garland, to sing at parties. Loesser was also behind "Heart and Soul," "Guys and Dolls," and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." He sold "Baby, It's Cold Outside" to MGM, enraging his wife. "I felt as betrayed as if I'd caught him in bed with another woman," Garland said. So yes, the song really does have consent issues.

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" might have worked better in 1944, but it's hard to think of lines like, "Say, what's in this drink?" as cheeky fun when you've been fully warned about the dangers of rohypnol your whole life. Now, we'll have a version for all of the women who can flat out say "yes" or "no" as they please.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less