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Listen: Miley Cyrus’ feminist re-writing of classic Christmas song ‘Santa Baby’ is perfect


By Jennifer McShane
21st Dec 2018
Listen: Miley Cyrus’ feminist re-writing of classic Christmas song ‘Santa Baby’ is perfect

In 2018, there’s no doubting the inappropriate lyrics in some of our favourite Christmas songs. We published a piece recently that divided readers, following the news that some Irish radio stations had decided to remove Baby, It’s Cold Outside from playlists. In the song, the undertone of the lyrics has been read by many to imply sexual coercion – which, regardless of how you choose to decipher the lyrics, it basically is. The woman really wants to go home, and the man – who keeps cutting across her – refuses to let her leave.

And the censoring of the use of a particular word in Fairytale of New York is also an issue. Regardless of the fact that songwriter Shane MacGowan used the word fag**t to depict the nature of Kirsty MacColl’s character in the track, the excuse that these songs were “of their time” no longer holds up as valid in an era of #MeToo.

It’s arguably this lax attitude to something as small as problematic lyrics that has cumulated in why #MeToo happened at all – that need to dismiss the smaller concerns, forgetting that they usually always turn into something much bigger. Adding to the list of songs that make for questionable listening in 2018 is another Christmas classic, Santa Baby.

Singer Miley Cyrus decided to give a much-needed update to the track during her appearance on The Tonight Show this week. She performed a more progressive version of the 1953 song, which has lyrics like “I want a yacht and really that’s not a lot” and “Slip a sable under the tree for me.” (A sable, for those who don’t know, is a fur, which Cyrus took out as she is a vegan).

“Am I saying I’m gonna hook up with Santa if he buys me all this stuff?” Cyrus says in the sketch right before she starts singing. And essentially, that’s very much a current of the track. Her re-imagining focuses less on the apparent exchange of material goods for potential sexual festive favours and more on what women really want this year.

She’s asking Santa to bring her equal pay, an end to sexual harassment in the workplace, to stop interrupting her when she talks and to stop sending her dick pics (Santa is a man at the end of the day).  “A girl’s best friend is equal pay,” she sings. “Santa Baby, I’d love to know my ass won’t get grabbed at work by some ignorant jerk.”

Lyrics, I think you’ll all agree, that we can get behind.

Listen to the track below: