“Baby It’s Cold Outside” always seemed a little predatory to Twin Cities musician Lydia Liza.
“It’s creepy,” she said. “I never liked it, not even as a kid.”
That’s why in 2016 she and then boyfriend Josiah Lemanski covered the classic holiday tune with a twist – more consent, less overt sexual pressure.
I really can't stay (Baby I'm fine with that)
I've got to go away (Baby I'm cool with that)
This evening has been (Been hoping that you get home safe)
So very nice (I'm glad you had a real good time)
Their updated version garnered national and international attention, with write-ups in the New York Times, NPR, Vanity Fair, Washington Post, Irish Times and the CBC. They were largely credited with retooling the lyrics for the #metoo era, with an unprecedented focus on consent in sexually charged interactions.
Now, John Legend and Kelly Clarkson are also updating the tune, specifically the lyrics, for a modern audience, according to a profile of Legend in this month’s Vanity Fair.
"… Legend has updated the lyrics with Natasha Rothwell (Insecure) and recorded it with his fellow The Voice coach Kelly Clarkson. The song’s every bit as fun and swinging as the original, and its newfound sensitivity feels genuine, not performative.
'What will my friends think...' sings Clarkson.
'I think they should rejoice,' Legend responds.
'...if I have one more drink?'
'It’s your body, and your choice.'”
Liza said she found out about the new version of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” this morning, when a friend texted her.
At first she was taken aback – hadn't she already updated the lyrics? – but she then eased up. “I think they could do a really good job,” she said. “Of course, I’m fond of our own version and how we were able to raise so much money for sexual violence organizations. I hope they’ll do the same.”
Through Rock the Cause Records, a nonprofit record label based in the Twin Cities, Liza and Lemanski’s version of the song has raised a substantial amount of money – some $10,000 – for organizations such as Sexual Violence Center of MN, RAINN, and National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.
“Here’s the beautiful thing,” said Scott Herold of Rock the Cause, “they're already on several official Spotify playlists and tens of thousands of listener-driven playlists. People aren’t going to stop listening to their song. This will just bring more awareness to the cause. Every Christmas it’s gotten bigger than the prior Christmas.”
Herold says the Liza and Lemanski version of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” has been streamed over 100,000 times in the last 30 days alone.
“If all goes well this holiday season we could raise [an additional] $7,000 to $10,000 for organizations working to end sexual violence.”
That’s the point, as far as Lydia Liza is concerned.
“[The song] is not mine to keep,” she said. “It’s an ever-expanding, ever-changing conversation, and a new version would be the next step in that.”