“I don’t think that John Legend should’ve changed the lyrics. I think leave a tender moment alone,” she told Good Morning America on Friday of the revised track, which replaces controversial sexist lines like “Beautiful, what’s your hurry?” to “I’ll call a car and tell ’em to hurry.”
Deana is the daughter of the late Dean Martin, whose velvety 1959 rendition on his album A Winter Romance helped popularize the Frank Loesser-written song for the holidays. It has been covered many times by everyone from Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart, to Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel, to Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone for Elf.
In recent years, the lyrics have raised eyebrows with lines like, “Say, what’s in this drink?” and a back-and-forth where a man tries to convince a woman to stay the night despite her continued clear protests — for example, “I really can’t stay,” and “The answer is no.”
But despite Legend, 40, being a “fantastic” musician and “a great writer,” Deana, 71, thinks the tradition of the song should be left as is, opining to Good Morning Britain earlier this week, “You do not change the lyrics to this song. [Legend] has made it more sexual with those words that he has just said.”
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Deana calls the remake by Legend and Clarkson, 37, “absurd,” continuing, “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.”
She also says her father, who died in 1995 at the age of 78, would’ve agreed with her about the modernized track. “I think that John should’ve just left it alone,” Deana adds.
Her comments echo those she gave on Fox & Friends in December, when the actress and singer spoke out after some suggested “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” promotes rape culture, calling the claims “outrageous.”
“I was absolutely flabbergasted; it’s just insane,” she said of learning about the uproar caused by the song that has been around for 70-plus years. “When I heard it and I said, ‘This can’t possibly be’ … I tweeted, ‘I think this is crazy, what do you think?’ and then all of a sudden it went viral.”
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“More people were for it. They were saying, ‘This is madness, we’ve gone insane now,’ ” Deana continued. “It’s a sweet, flirty, fun, holiday song. … There’s nothing bad about that song and it just breaks my heart.”
“Where she says, ‘Hey, what’s in this drink?’ I don’t think she’s talking about some pill being put in that drink. You know, like, ‘Is this punch? You know, what’s in this drink? Is it vodka?’ ” she argued. “It’s just breaking my heart that people would turn that around.”
“I know my dad would be going insane right now,” Deana added. “He would say, ‘What’s the matter with you? Get over it. It’s just a fun song.’ Because he was so sweet. He would never see anything bad in that. He was a great guy, fun guy, nice. And he wouldn’t want to do anything offensive; that wasn’t Dean Martin.”
“Baby It’s Cold Outside” was originally recorded by Capitol Records co-founder Johnny Mercer and his mentee Margaret Whiting. Whiting’s daughter, Debbi, agrees with Deana that there was no need for the song to be remade.
“They’ve gone too far. Frank Loesser was a great songwriter and his work doesn’t need an update any more than Da Vinci’s paintings do. The implication is that Frank wrote a song glorifying date-rape and that mom and Johnny gleefully went along singing about it. That couldn’t be further from who my mother was – a flirt, yes, but also one that did exactly and only what she wanted,” she said in a statement to PEOPLE.
“Mom had such respect for the songwriters and she would be so disheartened that anyone would change Frank’s lyrics and ascribe such torrid meaning to his song that has entertained generations for 70 years. By changing these lyrics they’ve taken a song that was suggestive, but left things to the imagination, and now they’ve made it explicitly about sex and done exactly what they were complaining about. I feel like I need to speak up for my mother, but, above all, she’d really want me to defend Frank Loesser.”
NEW VERSION of #BabyItsColdOutside! A welcome update or "PC Culture run amok & destroying everything great in the history of music?" (🙄). You decide. Check out my new track w/ @kellyclarkson! Updated lyrics co-written w/ @natasharothwell. Listen here: https://t.co/XZWqbFlZYP pic.twitter.com/FJZKYpJAHH— John Legend (@johnlegend) November 8, 2019
Fellow The Voice coaches Legend and Clarkson dropped their track at midnight on Thursday night. It is part of an expanded version of his album A Legendary Christmas: The Deluxe Edition, available now on amazon.com. “NEW VERSION of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside! A welcome update or ‘PC Culture run amok & destroying everything great in the history of music?’ (🙄) You decide,” Legend tweeted Friday.