American singer John Legend has re-written the classic Christmas song Baby, It's Cold Outside to focus its lyrics on consent in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

The song, originally written in 1944, is about a man trying to convince a woman to spend the night while she hesitantly suggests she should leave.

The lyrics have long provoked controversy but face renewed criticism in the wake of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, with several radio stations banning it from playlists last year.

Legend revealed in an interview with Vanity Fair that he has updated the lyrics with comedian Natasha Rothwell and recorded it with fellow US singer Kelly Clarkson for a Christmas release.

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The original duet, written by Frank Loesser, includes alternate lines between a man and woman where he tries to convince her not to risk a journey home in bad weather.

"Beautiful, please don't hurry": Frank Loesser and wife Lynn Garland sing at home. Photo / Getty Images.

Instead, he tries to convince her to have another drink and spend the night.

It has since been covered by artists including Dean Martin, Tom Jones and Lady Gaga.

Some critics have interpreted the line "Say what's in this drink? (No cabs to be had out there)" as a possible allusion to date rape.

According to Vanity Fair, Legend and Clarkson's updated lines include "What will my friends think? (I think they should rejoice) / If I have one more drink? (It's your body, and your choice)."

Last year a radio station in Cleveland, Ohio made headlines after it stopped playing Baby, It's Cold Outside after some listeners said the song was inappropriate.

Star 102 host Glenn Anderson said he recognised society was different when the song was released, but he did not think it has a place today.

However others have argued that the song, which featured in the 1949 film Neptune's Daughter and won an Academy Award, illustrates how women were unable to be openly sexual at the time.

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Among those to defend it was Martin's daughter Deana Martin, who dismissed the controversy last year by saying: "[The female character in the song] is sweet, she's playing along with him. It's flirting, it's sexy, it's sweet, there's nothing bad about that song, and it just breaks my heart".

She added: "I know my dad would be going insane right now. He would say, 'What's the matter with you? Get over it, it's just a fun song'."

The new version of Baby, It's Cold Outside will feature on Legend's festive album A Legendary Christmas.