A couple from Minnesota has re-imagined the classic Christmas song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” for a 21st-century audience, changing the song’s lyrics to emphasize the importance of consent.
Singer-songwriters Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski, both from Minneapolis, said they were inspired to rework the song after bonding over a mutual dislike of the original’s lyrics, which were penned in 1944 by Frank Loesser. The duet features a man trying to dissuade a woman from leaving a party despite her repeated protestations that she has to go home. “What’s in this drink?” is one of the female lines. “What’s the sense in hurtin’ my pride?” implores the male voice.
The song’s seeming disregard for the woman’s desire to leave never sat well with Lemanski or Liza.
“I’ve always had a big problem with the song. It’s so aggressive and inappropriate,” said Lemanski, 25.
Liza, 22, said she felt the same way as her boyfriend.
“We started thinking of the open-ended questions that song has,” she said. “You never figure out if she gets to go home. You never figure out if there was something in her drink. It just leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth.”
So Wednesday night, the couple decided to write a complete set of new lyrics.
“We wrote the whole thing in an hour and then we went back and used my little demo-recording microphone and did that in 15 minutes,” Liza recalled.
And though the melody is still the same, the lyrics strike an entirely new chord.
” I really can’t stay/Baby I’m fine with that” opens the song, as the lyrics recall the original’s format of a woman leaving a party. Except in Liza and Lemanski’s version, she does so without protest, the man helps her get home safely and the fictional couple makes a date the next day at The Cheesecake Factory.
“I ought to say no, no, no,” sings Liza.
“You reserve the right to say no,” croons Lemanski.
And as for that dubious “What’s in this drink?” line. It’s still there. Except, in the new version, the question is actually answered — by Lemanski, who responds with the oh-so-now “”Pomegranate La Croix” (obviously).
“I thought we were just doing like a really good, cool, funny thing and it just felt right,” Liza said.
“And emphasizing consent is one of the causes that I’ve always really been behind because I don’t think I can think of one friend of mine who’s a woman who hasn’t been in dangerous situations with men. I’ve always cared about this so much,” she added.
But after the duo uploaded the song to SoundCloud, the couple found that what started out as a shared gripe between a boyfriend and girlfriend also resonated with the public at large.
“We’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘Wow, we never actually paid attention to the lyrics before — this is awful!'” said Liza.
The couple also said they hoped the song would raise awareness of the need for consent, given the problem of sexual assault on college campuses.
“It’s not just a rare thing — it happens all the time, everywhere. Every day. And I’m afraid for my sister. And I’m afraid for my friends. And I hope that this song gets people thinking about it,” Lemanski said.
Liza added that she hoped that the song would inspire others to take action to help prevent violence against women.
“I hope it will be on people’s minds and that people will donate to charity or do some volunteer work at shelters or sexual assault centers. Like, if you think about this and you think it’s a problem, definitely step out of your comfort zone and do something and help someone,” she said.
And having successfully designated their re-imagined “Baby It’s Cold Outside” as an unofficial anthem for the importance of consent, the couple joked that there were some other candidates for the Liza and Lemanski treatment.
“A lot of people have suggested a bunch of songs, like Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘She Didn’t Say Yes, She Didn’t Say No’ and Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines,'” said Liza.
“We’ll just do a whole album,” she laughed.
Read the original lyrics to “Baby It’s Cold Outside” here and check out Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski’s version below.
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 you get home safe
So very nice/I’m glad you had a real good time
My mother will start to worry/Call her so she knows that you’re coming
Father will be pacing the floor/Better get your car a-humming
So really I’d better scurry/No rush.
Should I use the front or back door?/Which one are you pulling towards more?
The neighbors might think/That you’re a real nice girl
What is this drink?/Pomegranate La Croix
I wish I knew how/Maybe I can help you out
To break this spell/I don’t know what you’re talking about
I ought to say no, no, no/you reserve the right to say no
At least I’m gonna say that I tried/you reserve the right to say no
I really can’t stay/…Well you don’t have to
Baby it’s cold outside
I’ve got to get home/Do you know how to get there from here
Say, where is my coat/I’ll go and grab it my dear
You’ve really been grand/We’ll have to do this again
Yes I agree/How ’bout the Cheesecake Factory?
We’re bound to be talking tomorrow/Text me at your earliest convenience
At least I have been getting that vibe/Unless I catch pneumonia and die
I’ll be on my way/Thanks for the great night