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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

John Legend and Kelly Clarkson’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”: less creepy, still pretty dumb

Illustration for article titled John Legend and Kelly Clarkson’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”: less creepy, still pretty dumb
Photo: Chris Haston (NBC)

Let’s start with the good news: Kelly Clarkson and John Legend, two world-class singers with charming personalities who are sometimes on television together, did a holiday duet and it sounds great!


Reader, it is our sincerest wish that the news could stop there. Alas, we must move on to the previously reported, not-so-good news: The cover is of the jubilantly gross “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which they attempted to make less creepy, with new lyrics written by Legend and Insecure’s Natasha Rothwell. That’s a nice thought and all, but the results are... awkward, at best.

That is definitely less date-rapey, but it is also not great in some places. Let’s review the highlights and lowlights.

The good:

  • “Wait, what do you still live at home for?”: Cute in a celebrity novelty holiday album kind of way.
  • “Maybe just a cigarette more / That’s something we should probably explore,” is pretty funny in context, we must admit.
  • The ending, where they just sing “Baby, it’s cold outside” in beautiful belty voices. Make it last forever.

The innocuous:

  • “I can call you a ride” > “I’ll call a car and tell ’em to hurry,” but neither are great. The car stuff gets worse.
  • Many variations on “Okay sure take off” and “text me when you get home” and “It’s cool, whatever’s best for you.” All fine, whatever, but there are way too many of them.
  • He gives her a comb to keep? That’s nice.

The bad:

  • “Your driver, his name is Murray” is just too long a walk, sorry.
  • “Well, Murray, he just pulled up outside.”
  • Murray gets a line of dialogue? Enough with Murray.
  • “He loves my music, baby, I’m sure,” about Kelly’s brother?
  • “I’m a genie, tell me what your wish is,” to rhyme with “your lips look delicious.” The latter is from the original. The former would only have been acceptable if this were a duet with Christina Aguilera—John/Christina or Kelly/Christina, either works—and it was a little “Genie In A Bottle” reference.

Oh, no:

  • “It’s your body and your choice.” I mean, it is, but oh, no.

The single is from the deluxe edition of Legend’s album A Legendary Christmas, which is out today. If you’re a person who’s good with listening to things and just ignoring the crappy lyrics, then this track has got your name on it; otherwise, maybe just skip this one when you start listening to the record on the day after Thanksgiving and not a moment before.


Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!