Last week, it was revealed that John Legend had written his own version of the controversial 1944 song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” for the upcoming reissue of his 2018 holiday album, A Legendary Christmas.
As a result, Deana Martin — famed singer, actress and daughter of Dean Martin — criticized the “All of Me” singer for changing the lyrics of the “classic and perfect song.”
“He’s stealing the thunder from Frank Loesser’s song and from my dad,” the younger Martin said during an interview with “Good Morning Britain“. “He should write his own song if he doesn’t like this one. Don’t change the lyrics.”
Though “Baby It’s Cold Outside” was written and initially released by Loesser, it was Dean Martin’s 1959 rendition of the song that became most recognized across the globe.
In 2018, the song was pulled from a number of Canadian radio stations — including Corus Entertainment, Bell Media, Rogers and CBC Radio stations — amid concerns over what some people said were inappropriate lyrics in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Legend, 40, announced that he had written a more sensitive version of the song with songwriter Natasha Rothwell.
Over the years, the 75-year-old classic holiday tune has been heavily criticized, most recently by Karen Valby, author of the Vanity Fair profile of Legend. Valby described the original song as “date-rapey.”
In response to this, the EGOT-winning star shared some of the changes he made to address the nature of the song.
Instead of lyrics like “The neighbours might think (baby, it’s bad out there) / Say what’s in this drink? (no cabs to be had out there),” Legend — alongside duet partner and “The Voice” co-star Kelly Clarkson — will sing: “What will my friends think? (I think they should rejoice) / If I have one more drink? (It’s your body and your choice).”
Though Deana said she was a fan of the “wonderful” Legend, she said she was offended that her father’s best-known hit was being altered.
“You do not change the lyrics to this song … It’s absolutely absurd. It’s a classic and perfect song,” the 71-year-old said.
“He’s made it more sexual with those words.
“My dad didn’t care about things like that,” she continued. “He would have said it was absurd. I think John should have just left it alone.”
In an interview with Fox News, Deana Martin said she was “flabbergasted” by the controversy that arose last year about the song.
“It’s a sweet, flirty, fun holiday song that’s been around for 60 years … at least for my dad,” she said.
“I don’t want to change the lyrics. When she sings, ‘Hey, what’s in this drink?’ I don’t think she’s talking about some pill being put in that drink. Like, ‘Is this punch? What’s in this, drink? Is it vodka?’ It’s breaking my heart that people would turn that around [like that].
“This [political correctness] is driving me nuts,” she added. “We’ve gotta sit back and relax and have a good time.”
“People need to have a sense of humour. I understand the #MeToo movement and everything, I’m all for that … But for this? We gotta relax and have fun again,” she said.
Even Sharon Osbourne had something to say on the matter.
On Monday morning during “The Talk”‘s Let’s Talk with Sharon segment, the 67-year-old criticized Legend for his actions too.
“What would John Legend do if, in 40 years, somebody wanted to rerecord one of his songs, and there was a group that found it offensive? And [then] somebody went, ‘Oh, I can change the lyrics on that,'” she said.
“It’s a piece of art. To change an innocent lyric … What the hell are you on? That’s ridiculous.”
“I have to tell you, I love John Legend. I love John Legend’s wife, his family. He’s an amazing artist that I really respect,” Osborne continued. “[But] why do you do this? That’s not right. The thing is, if you don’t like the song, don’t record it.”
Legend’s updated rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” has not yet been released.
It will be featured on the 2019 re-release of A Legendary Christmas.
The album is set to drop this Friday, Nov. 8, and will feature three additional, previously unheard tracks.
— With files from Meaghan Wray