John Legend is going all-in to profit off his Christmas album from 2018, A Legendary Christmas.
A deluxe version of the album is soon to be released and it is being hyped by capitalizing on the great Christmas music controversy of 2018.
The song Baby, It’s Cold Outside was banned on a handful of radio stations in 2018 due to lyrics that somehow escaped the notice of the public for, oh, about 70 years.
Christmas 2018 was the high-water mark in the #Me-too movement and the lyrics of Baby, It’s Cold Outside bristled the sensibilities of radio program directors still playing the song.
It was famously pulled from airwaves with grandstanding press releases fueled by the media.
Now Legend is collaborating with Kelly Clarkson to “re-imagine” the song in bringing out his “deluxe” version of last year’s album. New lyrics now include:
“I really can’t stay (Baby it’s cold outside)/I’ve gotta go away (I can call you a ride)/This evening has been (So glad that you dropped in)/So very nice (Time spent with you is paradise)/My mother will start to worry (I’ll call a car and tell ’em to hurry).”
Wait. It gets worse:
Kelly: “What will my friends think…”
John: “I think they should rejoice”
Kelly: “…if I have one more drink?”
John: “It’s your body, and your choice.”
Legend purportedly re-wrote the lyrics with the help of comedian Natasha Rothwell.
There is, of course, a lot more to this story conveniently overlooked by Legend and all those promoting the re-release of his tepidly received Christmas album of last year (it topped the holiday charts in a year of weak Christmas releases).
As the season advanced a backlash against radio stations banning the song caused those stations to reverse course and put the song back on the air.
Like it or not, the song – which technically rates as a Christmas song only because it has been included on countless Christmas albums before – has been performed by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Eddie Fisher, Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin, Ray Charles, Al Hirt, Steve Lawrence, Henry Mancini, Barry Manilow, Bette Midler, Lou Rawls, Vanessa Williams, Tom Jones, Suzy Bogguss, Harry Connick Jr, Jessica Simpson, Rod Stewart, James Taylor, Willie Nelson, Colbie Caillat and an endless list of others.
Frankly speaking, with that broad array of recorded musical styles it has to be hard to keep the song off the air.
But interestingly enough all the hype and controversy of the song in 2018 led to a 70% increase in downloads of the song last Christmas (by whichever artists).
So it’s no wonder Legend is doing this. He’s got albums to sell, after all.
And that’s the point. This isn’t a statement of anything more than commercializing Christmas further.
Legend doesn’t stand behind any kind of cause. There isn’t any kind of donation to charitable causes tied to women. It’s all to profit John Legend.
In fact, if he so cared about the issue maybe he wouldn’t have released the song “She Don’t Need to Know”, an anthem of cheating released in 2007 (pre-dating a very public spectacle about alleged infidelity to his partner, Chrissy Teigen).
In other words, spare us, John Legend (and Kelly Clarkson).
Baby It’s Cold Outside is like any other kind of song. It tells a story. If you don’t like the story, don’t tell it.
To “re-imagine” a classic is a slap in the face to the original creators of the song and to those, who for whatever innocent reasons, continue to listen to it every holiday season.
For years the public has endured an assault on Christmas music as traditional tunes of a sacred nature have been banned in public performances at schools and in veteran hospitals and care facilities.
2018 marked the first time that secular Christmas songs came under fire. (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was also targeted for banning in 2018).
Legend’s album, which contained only safe secular music of Christmas, did nothing to advance the good messaging of love at Christmas.
This new take on Baby It’s Cold Outside does nothing to rectify that.
In fact, it insults the intelligence of audiences who are weary of the moralizing of celebrities who speak – and sing – out of both sides of their mouths.
Baby It’s Cold Outside will live on as it was performed by Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra or Michael Buble because those artists didn’t make the song about them and their so-called morals. It was about art.
Legend and Clarkson aren’t doing this for art. They are continuing to advance a message that the public has clearly rejected.
When it comes to John Legend and Kelly Clarkson’s version time will prove it to be a farce and a money-grab.