Local Current Blog

Video: Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski sing their new ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ in The Current studio

Josiah Lemanski and Lydia Liza at The Current (Nate Ryan/MPR)

“We wrote the lyrics in, like, 45 minutes,” Lydia Liza told Andrea Swensson this week when she and Josiah Lemanski visited our studios to sing their new version of the holiday standard “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” The two never guessed that their recording would become a viral hit, resonating with listeners around the world who disliked the creepy vibe of the original.

The two, Minneapolis singer-songwriters who have been collaborating on music and are also dating, revised the song’s lyrics on a whim — replacing the male partner’s sexually aggressive lines with respectful and amusing expressions of support. “I was like, ‘You know what song’s awful?'” remembered Lemanski. “She was like, ‘Dude, yes!’ We got out a notepad right there.”

They quickly recorded their version in Lydia Liza’s home studio — taking only “like 20 minutes,” said Liza — and posted it on SoundCloud to share for their friends’ amusement.

The witty and sensitive rewrite, though, was a hit well beyond their friend circle. “It got picked up by The Current, which sparked everything else,” said Lemanski. “Then it went to TIME.”

“I was waiting for that,” remembered Liza, referring to the TIME article, “and I saw that CNN had messaged me on Facebook. I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!'” The track ultimately amassed more than 400,000 plays on SoundCloud, with coverage in dozens of media outlets around the world.

Now, the two have recorded a professional studio version that’s coming out within the next few days on nonprofit Minneapolis label Rock the Cause Records — a label known for releases including Zach Sobiech’s “Clouds” and the recent Gazing with Tranquility tribute to Donovan. A portion of proceeds from the new version of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” will go to the Sexual Violence Center and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. Update: The Rock the Cause studio recording is now available to download from iTunes and Amazon.

“I look at the song and laugh, because it’s funny,” said Liza, “but I’m also just so grateful I was able to do something” to help raise awareness about the importance of consent in sexual relationships.

Lemanski added that “for both of us, this is one of the topics that we’ve felt really strongly about for a long time. We got lucky that this is the message that we get to get out there.”

  • BLRII

    What’s weird to me is that everyone misses that the original song is tongue in cheek. The woman wants to stay, and the two are really dealing with the “good girls don’t do it” message of the era. It’s not hard to see this in the song. A fun song has been maligned.

    • Jay

      I agree that it is valuable to look at that original as responding to the culture it was written in. A culture that does not allow women to openly express themselves in a relationship with men puts the burden of interpreting a woman’s wishes on the man, which can be really problematic especially if the man interprets the wishes incorrectly. So, having a new song that encourages women to openly express their wishes in the context of romantic relationships, and encourages men to hear that and respect it is also really valuable to help create a culture where, “good girls don’t do it” is less important than “guys, respect what women are saying”.

    • John H

      Plenty of us don’t miss that fact and still think the song is creepy. An easy way to make is less creepy by making it clear that the woman REALLY wanted to stay would have been to have the man suggesting the potential negative judgements the woman might face while she was the one coming up with excuses to deflect them so she could stay (and gender-flipped versions have been done), but the famous versions have all revolved around a man pressuring a woman to stay. And, of course, doing so still would have reinforced those negative cultural judgements of women who have sex. The roles are identified as “wolf” and “mouse” in the score – the Loessers were clearly aware of the predatory dynamics at play, but they (and their contemporaries) thought of those dynamics as funny instead of creepy. Yes, it was a different culture: a different culture with creepy values. Had they really wanted to make the song a collaborative effort of the couple to find reasons for the “mouse” to stay, they could have had both parties suggest both reasons to go and to stay to make the ambivalence clear from the text and not a matter of interpretation. The ‘joke’ depends on one interpreting the predatory dynamics as feigned and thus humorous, but since the reality of many people’s experiences is that those dynamics aren’t feigned at all (many people, disproportionately women and the young, have faced sexual coercion, and have every reason to read the pressure as serious), the ‘joke’ isn’t funny at all in their interpretation (or that of those particularly sympathetic to victims of sexual coercion), for very good reasons.

      • Guest

        Nonsense. It’s a song about flirting, nothing more. It’s not the author’s fault that you and your other precious triggered snowflakes are too clueless to tell the difference.

        • Melissa Burke

          Let me just say right off that your language is pretty disrespectful. Second, 1 out of every 6 women has been a victim of attempted or completed rape. So, someone you know, has been a victim. This is reality. This song, in our time, helps counter the messages we receive about women.

          • Guest

            No one has been raped BECAUSE OF THIS CLASSIC SONG. Period.

            Get real.

          • buckw

            You live in a bubble of falsehoods. Your rape numbers are wrong. There is no rape culture. Learn a little before you comment again.

      • buckw

        You’re a Poe, right?

  • tomtomtom

    Maybe we need another new version where the woman just says, I’m staying because I want to not because it’s cold outside.

  • Guest

    I’m sure you’ve heard this a millions times already, but this ‘Current’ rewrite by a couple of professional victims, of an innocent song written by the great Frank Loesser that he performed with his WIFE at their own house parties, is the LAUGHING STOCK of Youtube. And Facebook, and, well, all over the web.

    • BvB4Life

      Yes, a husband and wife wrote a song about a guy pressuring a woman into staying the night. Rape is so whimsical!

      • Guest

        You’re a delusional victim with no concept of historical context or simple facts. This is a song about two people FLIRTING with each other, not about ‘pressuring’ anyone to do anything, let alone rape them.

        SHEESH.

        • Carrie Pomeroy

          I hear you that the original song can be read as flirting within the context of the times, and depending on the singers, it can be pretty beguiling. But some of the lyrics definitely cross the line into creepy pressuring: The guy singing, “What’s the sense in hurting my pride?” “How can you do this thing to me?” and changing the subject to “Gosh, your lips look delicious” instead of responding to what the woman is actually saying. I think in any time, that would be obnoxious date behavior. And what’s up with the woman asking, “What’s in this drink?” Yikes. Pop culture is not some canon written in stone. It’s meant to be played with, rewritten, mashed up. I think both this contemporary version and the other can co-exist and inform one another, and I salute these artists for doing something that’s just as much of this time as the earlier version was of its time.

          • Guest

            Well, I appreciate your reply, and agree w/some of what you say, but just think in general there are some ‘professional victims’ out there that are reading WAY too much into the lyrics, and/or projecting their own past issues on the song.

            Think about this for a second: He mentions ‘The Cheesecake Factory’. Some people could take that to mean some porn studio or some subversive place where innocent girls are lured to, to become prostitutes. Food for thought.

          • Melissa Burke

            Uh. Everyone knows what the Cheesecake Factory is. So, like, no.

          • Guest

            And you know that for a fact? You never know…some people might misunderstand it, and be micro-triggered!!!

            Sigh…

          • Melissa Burke

            Thank you. I like how you said they can co-exist. That is perfect.

          • D Weis

            You people are not well grounded. We don’t care what you think about the song. We just keep playing it.

          • D Weis

            snowflakes

          • buckw

            Wrong, Carrie. You’re confusing your inference with the songwriter’s implication. Rape is in YOUR mind, not in the song’s intent.

          • Carrie Pomeroy

            I’d be genuinely interested to hear your thoughtful explanation of how the lines I cited above can be taken as not aggressive, dismissive of what the woman is saying, and obnoxious. I’ll wait.

          • buckw

            You’re making it too easy–that’s exactly my point. It’s neither aggressive nor dismissive. It’s in YOUR head. This is a playful Christmas duet sung by a couple. Let me guess: you’re a feminist SJW who continues to find new intersection points between your own systemic oppression by the patriarchy and that of countless other marginalized non white male communities, right?

          • Carrie Pomeroy

            Name-calling and stereotyping and not addressing my actual question. Yeah, I can see why you are so defensive about letting go of your idealized, one-sided, completely un-nuanced view of the original song and this remake. I could make all sorts of assumptions about you and call names back, but I’m so not interested. I’ve had real conversations with people who hold different views than I do, but it’s clear to me that ain’t going to happen here. Buh-bye.

          • buckw

            Oh, Dear Carrie! The projection is intense with you. You accuse me of calling names, yet it is YOU who infers rape and sexual assault in a classic Christmas song! Why is it that hard core feminist SJWs like you want to criminalize all forms of attraction between the sexes? Is it because your claim of the existence of a “rape culture” is bogus, and you must therefore find evidence of such every time you see a couple holding hands?
            Sorry, but your insistence upon “nuance” is blather and smokescreen. There is no need to read more deeply into the lyrics, or to parse words, or to kvetch over hidden “trigger warnings” and “dog whistles”; notice that I used some of the curious jargon that you people use to identify other concepts which don’t exist.
            Did I say “you people”? The horrors!
            Carrie, Carrie, Carrie, get a life. Attraction between the sexes is good, and we should encourage it. Don’t believe your unshowered, unshaved, buzzcut, intersectional feminist professors who wish to create a make-believe culture of patriarchal domination to explain their own failings.
            Merry Christmas, Carrie. And in Minneapolis, Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

  • Cheri Hyatt Perazzoli

    Could you please caption this video? Hearing loss is invisible! You are missing a huge audience! Did you know there are 48 million Americans with hearing loss? Many of us can hear the music but the specific lyrics to which you refer are a blur. Many folks benefit from captioning including folks for whom English is a second language. Please make your videos available for all audiences! We want to be included too! Accessibility is good business! Thank you.

    • Guest

      You should be grateful you can’t hear this version. Seriously, it’s a national embarrassment and an insult to the original author and his wife.

    • Yep, it’s captioned! Just click the CC icon in the lower-right corner of either video to activate the captions.

  • Apollyon

    Poor whipped guy.