The Voice coaches updated the lyrics to stand in place of controversial sexist lines so that the song would be more appropriate for 2019, especially in the wake of the #MeToo movement. However, Osbourne did not think the original song needed to be messed with.
“What would John Legend do, if in 40 years, if somebody wanted to — you know, times change — re-record one of his songs, and there was some group that found it offensive, and somebody just went, ‘Oh, I can change the lyrics on that,'” she began her argument.
“It’s, to me, like a master painting,” Osbourne explained. “You go and see these beautiful nudes in museums all over the world, they’re spectacular. Would it be right for me to go and draw a bikini top on one of those nudes? It’s still an art form, it’s a piece of art.”
“To change an innocent lyric, to what is it, ‘Your mind and your body?’ What the hell are you on? That’s ridiculous,” she quipped. “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. Why do you do this? That’s not right.”
Along with the updated line, “What will my friends think? If I have one more drink?/ It’s your body, and your choice,” other updated lyrics 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).”
Osbourne concluded her argument, adding: “The thing is if you don’t like the song, don’t record it.”
“Baby It’s Cold Outside” was first penned by Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls) in 1944 as a duet for him to sing with his wife at parties. It’s gone on to become an enduring holiday classic, sung by everyone from Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart to Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel to Chris Colfer and Darren Criss on an episode of Glee.
But in recent years the lyrics have raised eyebrows with lines like, “Say, what’s in this drink?” and a back-and-forth where a man tries to convince a woman to stay the night despite her continued protests — “I really can’t,” and “The answer is no.”
Last year, the song was taken off of some radio playlists after facing criticism.
Loesser’s daughter Susan told NBC News that “Bill Cosby ruined it for everybody,” referring to the comedian being accused by 60 women of drugging and assaulting them. “Way before #MeToo, I would hear from time to time people call it a date rape song. I would get annoyed because it’s a song my father wrote for him and my mother to sing at parties. But ever since Cosby was accused of drugging women, I hear the date rape thing all the time,” she said.
The song will appear on an expanded version of Legend’s Christmas album, A Legendary Christmas: The Deluxe Edition, available Friday.