One More Time, With Consent: 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' Gets An Update Musicians Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski have reimagined the holiday classic to emphasize consent — but at the time it was written, the song was actually something of a feminist anthem.
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One More Time, With Consent: 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' Gets An Update

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One More Time, With Consent: 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' Gets An Update

One More Time, With Consent: 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' Gets An Update

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/505113526/506263396" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE")

ESTHER WILLIAMS: (Singing) I really can't stay.

RICARDO MONTALBAN: (Singing) But, baby, it's cold outside.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Next, we have a Christmas song you know by heart which has changed. It's a song dating back to 1944. The Broadway composer Frank Loesser wrote it as a cute party act that he could perform with his wife.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE")

WILLIAMS: (Singing) My mother will start to worry.

MONTALBAN: (Singing) Beautiful, what's your hurry?

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Singer-songwriter Lydia Liza says that, for some, it's taken on more sinister overtones, even insinuating sexual assault.

LYDIA LIZA: There are so many lines within that song that just stand out to me, like, what's in this drink.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE")

WILLIAMS: (Singing) Say, what's in this drink?

MONTALBAN: (Singing) No cabs to be had out there.

THOMAS RIIS: Nowadays, we see that, and we go, oh, my gosh, this is date rape. He's putting something in the drink.

INSKEEP: Music historian Thomas Riis says, keep in mind, though, the song was written more than half a century ago.

LIZA: It was meant to be playful, but all those lyrics just sit wrong with me, especially being from this generation.

MARTIN: So Liza and her boyfriend, Josiah Lemanski, decided to give it a modern spin.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE")

LIZA: (Singing) I really can't stay.

JOSIAH LEMANSKI: (Singing) Baby, I'm fine with that.

LIZA: (Singing) I've got to go away.

LEMANSKI: (Singing) Baby, I'm cool with that.

INSKEEP: (Laughter). Their version has since gone viral, and the couple is donating proceeds to various charities, including the Sexual Violence Center of Minnesota. Liza and Lemanski say they're not trying to erase the old version, just move it forward a little bit. Here is the music historian, Riis.

RIIS: We always interpret from the present time, but with not necessarily all the historical information that we maybe ought to have to understand the situation.

MARTIN: He says one of the reasons the song has stayed popular is because it can be heard in different ways. He offers this interpretation.

RIIS: What she says is not so much what I don't want to do; it's what the neighbors will say. So in a sense, it's I can do what I doggone please; I'm a modern woman.

INSKEEP: And those who don't like that interpretation of the song can write their own lyrics.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE")

LIZA: (Singing) So really I better scurry.

LEMANSKI: (Singing) Yeah, no rush.

LIZA: (Singing) Should I use the front or back door?

LEMANSKI: (Singing) Which one are you pulling towards more?

LIZA: (Singing) The neighbors might think...

LEMANSKI: (Singing) That you're a real nice girl.

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