October 29, 2019 / 5:31 PM / 22 days ago

John Legend updates 'Baby It's Cold Outside' to remove date rape lines

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - American singer-songwriter John Legend has revamped the 75-year-old classic “Baby It’s Cold Outside” for the #MeToo era, after it was banned last year as critics said it encouraged date rape.

John Legend arrives ahead of comedian Dave Chappelle receiving the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center in Washington, U.S., October 27, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

The new rendition of the catchy song about a man coaxing a woman to stay with him includes the lyrics “It’s your body, and your choice”, said Legend, who recorded the duet with “American Idol” singer Kelly Clarkson for his latest Christmas album.

An Ohio radio station took the original - sung by such big names as Dean Martin and Dolly Parton - out of its list of holiday music in 2018 due to its controversial lyrics, amid rising awareness about sexual coercion and abuse.

Lines in the 1944 version, such as the woman asking “Say, what’s in this drink?” and the man saying “Baby don’t hold out”, have led to it being dubbed a date rape anthem.

In the new recording, Clarkson sings, “What will my friends think...”, with Legend responding, “I think they should rejoice” / “...if I have one more drink?” / “It’s your body and your choice”, Legend told Vanity Fair magazine.

The latest rendition by Legend and Clarkson, co-hosts on the popular TV show “The Voice”, features on the deluxe edition of Legend’s previously released album, “A Legendary Christmas”, which is due out for the holiday season.

Legend is a well-known social justice campaigner, along with his model wife Chrissy Teigen, who have both come under fire from U.S. President Donald Trump for speaking out in favor of criminal justice reform.

This month marks two years since the #MeToo movement exploded on social media after accusations of sexual abuse were made public against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein. He denies any non-consensual sex.

More victims of sexual assault have since come forward to speak out against dozens of powerful men, ending the careers of celebrities like opera singer Placido Domingo and comedian Bill Cosby.

In the cover story interview, Legend also discussed his role in “Surviving R. Kelly”, a documentary which includes allegations from multiple women who accuse the Grammy Award-winning R&B singer of sexual misconduct.

“A few years ago, we had a party at the house and we had a DJ playing music. R. Kelly came on and I walked up to the DJ and said, ‘We don’t play him in this house,’ “ said Legend.

“He was already canceled in my mind.”

R. Kelly pleaded not guilty in August to charges that he ran a criminal scheme that recruited women and underage girls to have sex with him. He faces a maximum prison sentence of more than 200 years if convicted.

Reporting by K. Sophie Will; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org

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