Cyrus made a late night appearance on The Tonight Show Friday evening and served some seasonal Christmas cheer — with a much-needed upgrade. She performed a rendition of “Santa Baby,” the coy, flirty holiday classic, but right off the bat, Cyrus made it clear the song was going to be sung on her terms.
Cyrus’ updated, #MeToo-friendly version of “Santa Baby” follows the same tune as Eartha Kitt’s 1953 original, but with a feminist 2018 twist. “Santa, baby,” she sings, denouncing the fancy jewelry, diamonds, cash, stocks, and similarly flashy gifts that made the original so titillating, “I don’t need your presents tonight.”
Before taking the stage, Cyrus had confronted host Jimmy Fallon, telling him the original song was all wrong. The lyrics — which Cyrus pointed out incredulously, with righteous indignation — ask Santa Claus for ostentatious presents (a car, a yacht, checks) while hinting the singer would hook up with ol’ Saint Nick in exchange. Cyrus even went a little bit political, pointing out that the song requested a sable, or a luxe fur, which would be totally out of character for her (she’s vegan). So when Fallon, pressed for time, agreed to let Cyrus change the lyrics — well, she didn’t hold back.
Cyrus remained just as cutting as she was charming throughout the performance, firmly telling Santa to back off a little: “I can buy my own stuff,” she sang to cheers from the audience. Instead of your typical wish list, Cyrus instead asked for equal pay and a safer work environment: “I’d love to know my ass won’t get grabbed at work by some ignorant jerk,” she croons, evoking a double entendre just safe enough for live TV: “Tell the dirtbag to put away the chimney tonight.”
With the annual Christmas carol debate in full swing once again, it’s refreshing to see a traditional tune take on a modern-day twist — and hopefully it won’t be too long before more powerhouse pop stars give other classic songs the revamp they need for 2018.