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John Legend Kelly Clarkson’s Baby It’s Cold Outside Update New Lyrics
At this point, the debate around “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is about as much of a holiday tradition as putting up a tree or replacing Grandma’s fourth glass of brandy with apple juice. This year, though, John Legend and Kelly Clarkson decided to rerecord “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with updated lyrics. This is complex because both John Legend and Kelly Clarkson are American staples with good intentions. And yet, the result is a bit… flawed.
In a cultural moment where men are encouraged to talk less and listen more, why reimagine a song that hinges on a man talking over a woman? Why not just write a new song? Why not just let a dated, problematic song be forgotten with the rest of pop culture that doesn’t have a place in a more progressive 2019?
Regardless, this new version of Baby It’s Cold Outside now exists. And Kelly and John’s version tells the story of two people, who may or may not be Kelly Clarkson and John Legend as we know them, concluding a night of drinking. John calls Kelly an Uber. And while their Uber driver waits outside, they debate if they should hang out and drink longer. It’s never revealed if Kelly gets in her Uber or accepts the cancellation fee and continues to hang out with John.
In a statement about the song, Legend explained, “I’ve loved holiday music since I was a kid in Ohio singing with my family every Christmas around my grandmother’s piano… I’m particularly excited about the new version of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ featuring my friend Kelly Clarkson. I co-wrote a fun reimagined version of the lyrics with Natasha Rothwell, and we can’t wait for everyone to hear it. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.”
At least John and Kelly had fun with it! Here, we try to make sense of the song’s more baffling lyrics.
So, really, I’d better scurry (Your driver, his name is Murray)
AW: I want to know this Uber driver’s whole story. Murray is the unsung hero of this song.
JK: Can you just imagine Murray, dropping someone off, looking at his next fare, saying to himself, “Oh, got to go get John now,” not even realizing that he’s about to pick up Kelly Clarkson, whose Uber was called by John Legend?
AW: Kelly really does Murray dirty for making him idle outside. He’s trying to make an honest living! Another question: did John call her a private ride, or did he cheap out and get her a shared car?
JK: Answer: UberX because you have 2 minutes to get outside for a pool before it leaves, and you know this whole back-and-forth went on for at least 17 minutes more. Your Uber score doesn’t rebound from that.
But maybe just a half a drink more (Oh, we’re both adults, so who’s keepin’ score)
AW: Correct me if I’m wrong, but plenty of adults keep score about how much other adults are drinking.
JK: Yeah, I feel like this is common practice. Though I do feel like half a drink is a strange measurement?
What will my friends think? (I think they should rejoice)If I have one more drink? (It’s your body and your choice)
AW: Using the phrase “It’s your body and your choice” about having another cocktail is a weird appropriation of pro-choice rhetoric.
JK: This is where the song jumped the proverbial shark.
AW: Applying 21st century feminist phrase to an icky old song about date rape just doesn’t add up. You can’t square that circle.
At least I’m gonna say that I tried (Well, Murray, he just pulled up outside)
AW: Poor, Poor Murray. How long is he going to wait for Kelly? Is this song taking place in real time? If so, Murray waits for at least four minutes for Kelly, and considering their predicament is never resolved by the end of the song, Murray is clocking in to wait a lot longer for Kelly. A) justice for Murray, and B) there goes John’s good Uber score.
JK: I hope my man got himself a Subway sandwich. Imagine: it’s holiday season, Murray’s three kids and husband are at home, and they’re like, “Can’t open presents without Daddy!” while Kelly is weighing whether or not to have half a Manhattan.
AW: Kelly is the real Scrooge of the holiday season.
(Text me when you get home)Oh, I’m supposed to say no
AW: Kelly, what are you saying here? You don’t plan to text him when you get home? You refuse? Why are you supposed to say no? Don’t you know that it’s a good thing when a man asks this of you at the end of a date?
JK: I actually fully respect this. Clearly John has read the many news reports about assaults during Uber rides. He’s responsibly concerned about his date’s safety. Really, why is she supposed to say no?
My brother will be there at the door (Oh, he loves my music, baby, I’m sure)
AW: Within the fiction of this song, are John Legend and Kelly Clarkson themselves or playing characters. If so, does that mean John Legend is just assuming that 46-year-old Jason Clarkson is a John Legend fan or does he KNOW he’s a John Legend fan?
JK: “Ordinary” was a bop, but let’s not get crazy. I still have “All of Me” stuck in my head years later, and that’s not a compliment.
My gossipy neighbors for sure (I’m a genie, tell me what your wish is)
AW: Is this a bizarre Christina Aguilera reference?
JK: IMMEDIATE CHRISTINA AGUILERA VIBES, THANK YOU. Actually, you know who had a bangin’ holiday album? Christina.
But maybe just a cigarette more (Oh, that’s somethin’ we should probably explore)
AW: Were they smoking already? If that’s the case, why does John seem surprised by this comment? Is he not pleased with Kelly Clarkson’s smoking habit? Are we supposed to assume that Kelly Clarkson smokes cigarettes? Have you heard her voice? There’s no way she’s a smoker.
JK: The vaping epidemic has put nearly two thousand people in the hospital this year, and it’s being driven by the tobacco industry. Think on that.
(I feel good to touch me hands)
AW: Just… what?
JK: I’ve heard the song, but I refuse to read this in anything other than a pirate voice.
Read the lyrics, in full, below:
I really can’t stay (Baby, it’s cold outside)I’ve got to go away (But, I can call you a ride)This evening has been (I’m so glad you that you dropped in)So very nice (Time spent with you is paradise)My momma will start to worry (I’ll call the car and tell him to hurry)My daddy will be pacing the floor (Wait, what are you still livin’ home for?)So, really, I’d better scurry (Your driver, his name is Murray)But maybe just a half a drink more (Oh, we’re both adults, so who’s keepin’ score)What will my friends think? (I think they should rejoice)If I have one more drink? (It’s your body and your choice)Ooh you really know how (Your eyes are like starlight now)To cast a spell (One look at you and then I fell)I ought to say, “No, no, no, sir” (Then you really ought to go, go, go)At least I’m gonna say that I tried (Well, Murray, he just pulled up outside)
I really can’t stay(I understand, baby)Baby, it’s cold outside
I simply should go (Text me when you get home)Oh, I’m supposed to say no (Mm, I guess that’s respectable)This welcome has been (I’ve been lucky that you dropped in)So nice and warm (But you better go before it storms)My sister will be suspicious (Well, gosh your lips look delicious)My brother will be there at the door (Oh, he loves my music, baby, I’m sure)My gossipy neighbors for sure (I’m a genie, tell me what your wish is)But maybe just a cigarette more (Oh, that’s somethin’ we should probably explore)I’ve got to get home (Oh, baby, I’m well aware)Say, lend me a coat (Oh, keep it girl, I don’t care)You’ve really been grand (I feel good to touch me hands)But don’t you see? (I want you to stay, it’s not up to me)There’s bound to be talk tomorrow (Well, they can talk, what do they know)At least there will be plenty implied (Oh, let their mind do this, and-)
Ma’am, I really can’t stay
Baby, just goIt’s cold, babyIt’s cold, babyBut, ooh, I don’t wanna goIt’s cold outside
Adrienne Westenfeld is a writer and editor at Esquire, where she covers books and culture.
Justin Kirkland is a writer for Esquire, where he focuses on entertainment, television, and pop culture.