Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé released a video for their version of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ this week. The music video is set in a hotel entirely staffed and occupied by children, and it’s… something.
I’ll say this for it: The date-rape overtones that usually haunt this song are definitely gone, thanks to some small lyrical changes. “Say, was that a wink?” takes the place of the infamous “Say, what’s in this drink?” and “I ought to to get home for dinner/So time for me to cast you aside” replaces “I ought to say no, no, no sir/At least I’m gonna say that I tried.” (The other references to drinking and cigarettes are also changed, with slightly less success, though it may just be that I don’t like the term “soda pop.”)
One read of the original song is that the woman doesn’t really want to leave, even though she knows that it wouldn’t be proper for her to stay the night at a man’s house. What stands in the way of that interpretation is how firm she is at some points: “The answer is no” is almost always sung very clearly, so that the man can’t mistake that she’s planning on leaving, no matter how much he tries to talk her out of it. In this version, that line becomes “So thanks for the show.” With the strongest of her refusals gone, it’s easier to imagine that this girl really doesn’t want to go home, in the same way that I don’t actually mean it when I say “I really shouldn’t have another piece of cake.”
But it’s still three minutes of a woman telling a man that she doesn’t want to stay and him trying to convince her otherwise. This is extra off-putting given that in this video, the boy is an elevator operator who, wowed by the beauty of a female hotel patron, does a quick-change into a tuxedo and then breaks into song. He’s not, as far as we can tell, someone she’s been hanging out with all night–he’s just another random guy who feels entitled to her time and attention. Meanwhile, the rest of the guests and staff (who are, again, children) just roll their eyes as if this is a totally normal occurrence–which it is, at least in the adult world, but that’s not to say it should be.
The weirdest thing about the song and video, though–other than seeing Michael Bublé’s voice come out of a mouth that still has all its baby teeth–is the lyrics that didn’t get changed. The verse about the woman’s maiden aunt and suspicious family members? Still there in its entirety. This kid has the only proper reaction to hearing an eight-year-old sing, “Gosh your lips look delicious.”
The verdict: I’ve always loved this song, even though the lyrics are terrible, so I’ll take this version of the song over the original any day, awkward references to soda pop or no. Frustratingly, though, the album version of the song seems to revert to the original lyrics. The video is cute–it’s a kid hotel, you guys–but I’ll probably be just letting it run in the background from now on.