I love Christmas music. Really truly love it. And particularly classic Christmas music. I love the crooners, the standards, the songs that have stood the test of time. I love expert songwriting. Ever look at the lyrics to “White Christmas” or “Chestnuts Roasting”? Minuscule. I mean the text to both these songs is minuscule. Tiny. Just a few words. Just a few beautifully crafted, brilliantly-written words. A really great song does not have to have a lot of words. It has to have the right words.
I also understand the me-too movement. I understand that far too many women have experienced anything and everything from unnecessary coercion to outright sexual assault. I feel very fortunate that I have never been in a situation (drunk or sober) that was distressing or uncomfortable.
I have no idea why. Why other women have and I have not. Luck? Good choices? Maybe I’ve always been a bitch-on-wheels? All I know is I have been in many “situations”, some fond memories, some regrets, but never have I felt threatened or not in control.
Now please understand I am only telling you this to set the stage for my upcoming rant. Because I know that somebody somewhere is gonna say “Yeah, well IF you had you wouldn’t be so cavalier! You don’t understand because it never happened to you!”
I just love Christmas music. And I have always loved “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” I believe it is truly one of the most endearing, cleverly constructed, beautifully rendered, flirtatious little man/woman duets ever recorded. By many, many artists. Over many, many years. Some are great, some are good, some are fine and some are horrid. The renditions, not the song. The song remains the same.
Until this year. Until in 2019 John Legend and Kelly Clarkson decide to rewrite it. Take away any and all implications of non-consensual potential.
They also take away all charm, all cleverness, all brilliance and all that sweetly flirtatious man-woman dialogue that yes, might be a tad dated but is also delightful in its archival innocence.
Yes – back then women had to worry about what the neighbours think.
Yes – back then women had to be concerned about getting home at a proper time.
Yes – back then women had to get home at a proper time.
Yes – back then sometimes women actually wanted to stay.
Yes – back then women had to constantly fight basic urges against societal proprieties.
Yes – back then women had to act the good girl, even when they just maybe wanted to a be a bit naughty.
And YES – sometimes lyrics were written simply to find the perfect rhyme. “The neighbours might think. Say what’s in this drink?”
Yeah. Frank Loesser could have gone with “The neighbours might think, That baby you stink.” Or maybe “You’re a rat fink.” Or even “Pass me my mink.”
Except that would be politically incorrect now too.
They were having cocktails for fuck’s sake.
*aside – There’s a song in the musical “Annie Get Your Gun” where Frank and Annie sing “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better.” Frank sings: I can knit a sweater. (Yay, not sexist). Annie replies: I can fill it better.
I played that role. I sang those words. It always got a huge laugh and no one was offended.
So now we have John and Kelly taking it upon themselves to “update” (read: bastardize) this old (1944) chestnut. I don’t see anybody updating “Santa Baby” but okaaaay. Personally I figure if you don’t like a song write a different one. But if you absolutely have to rewrite a classic at least make the rewrite GOOD.
John and Kelly – this is shit.
This is like a Saturday Night Live skit gone horribly wrong. Not “out there” enough to be funny and not clever enough to make your point.
These new lyrics are LAME.
“My mom will start to worry (I’ll call the car and tell him to hurry)”
“So, really, I’d better scurry (Your driver, his name is Murray)”
“What will my friends think? (Well I think they should rejoice) If I have one more drink? (It’s your body and your choice)
“I ought to say, “No, no, no, sir” (Then you really ought to go, go, go)”
GEEZ. THE WHOLE POINT IS SHE DOESN’T WANNA SAY NO NO NO.”
“At least I’m gonna say that I tried (Well, Murray, he just pulled up outside)”
WE HAVE NOW REACHED A NEW LOW IN LYRIC RECREATION.
The only line that is even vaguely clever is this: “My daddy will be pacing the floor (Wait, what are you still livin’ home for?)” Yep. That one got a small chuckle from me.
And then – the crowning glory in this shitstorm of banality – THE UBER DRIVER GETS HIS OWN LINE: “[The driver ] Ma’am, I really can’t stay”
I rest my case.
This is a very LAME comedy routine.
Except I don’t think that is what was intended. And I’m pretty sure if this version had been released BEFORE John Legend was named “Sexiest Man Alive” the fine folks at People Magazine would have rethunk. Cause there ain’t nothing sexy about this.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is not a song about date rape. It is a song about date-dialogue in a bygone era. Period.
You don’t have to believe in Jesus to appreciate “Silent Night”. You don’t have to speak Spanish to sing along with “Feliz Navidad.” You don’t have to hate your granny to find “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” amusing. IF you do. I personally think it’s the stupidest Christmas song EVER. So when it comes on, I turn it off. That’s all. I don’t rewrite the lyrics to be politically correct for 2019. Grandma doesn’t survive and take Santa to court for a hit and run. She doesn’t sue Rudolph for potentially drunk flying. And do you remember the line about Santa “playing with elves??”
I am not going to tell you to lighten up or grow up or get a grip or even agree with me.
A classic is a classic is a classic. If you like it, turn it up. If you hate it, turn it off.
And if you’re a songwriter – go write your own damn songs. Or go be sexy. Whatever. Do YOUR thing. Spread your message. Speak your truth.
And let Frank Loesser’s masterpiece stand for exactly what it is.