Legend, 40, doubled down on defending the latest iteration of the Frank Loesser song, which was co-written by Legend and “Insecure” writer and actress Natasha Rothwell. Legend performed the tune as a duet with Clarkson.
“The song was supposed to be silly!” Legend maintained in an interview with the UK’s Observer. “It wasn’t supposed to be preachy at all. I never disparaged the old version. And, by the way, the original writer, or his family, gets paid for my version, too.”
The EGOT-winner rewrote specific lyrics to the 1944 song after some deemed the lines to be predatory in today’s #MeToo climate.
However, the new rendition of the holiday favorite, which has been sung by the likes of Dean Martin and Ella Fitzgerald, has since been slammed by Martin’s daughter, Deanna Martin, as “absolutely absurd” based on the rewritten verbiage in which the male protagonist offers to call his female date an Uber when she insists she must go home.
In discussing the thought process of rewriting such a historical piece of Christmas music, the “Voice” coach said he knew it would draw mixed reactions.
“It would be fun, and it would be newsworthy,” he said of updating the song for his new Christmas album. “And yeah, yeah – it was both.”
Of the criticism the song has received, the 2019 Sexiest Man Alive called the backlash “interesting.”
Recording artist John Legend (L) and host Kelly Clarkson speak onstage during the 2018 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 20, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
“People thinking we’ve gone too far speaking up for a woman’s right to not get raped or sexually harassed, when some would argue we’ve not gone far enough, when we have an admitted sexual assailant in the highest office in the land,” Legend explained.
“People think that because some people have lost their jobs, or have been expelled from Hollywood, like [Harvey] Weinstein, that we’ve gone too far. I don’t agree. But people wanted the ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ war to be a proxy war for all that.”
The 10-time Grammy-winner also fired back at criticism he’s too liberal, adding he doesn’t “know what virtue-signaling is supposed to be.”
“I get that people don’t like people who are overly preachy or overly moralizing,” said Legend. “But, in my humble opinion, if you care about people who are often undervalued and overlooked in society, what’s so negative about that?
“There seem to be some who think that standing up for immigrants whose kids are getting locked up in cages is … some might call that virtue-signaling and some might think speaking up against it is absolutely right.”
The father of two also defended the song in an interview with Yahoo! last week, telling the outlet, “They saw one line where she’s talking about having a drink, and I’m like, ‘It’s your body, it’s your choice.’ And I think they wanted it to be part of the political kind of culture wars. If you listen to the song, it’s really just a funny update.”