The enduring popularity of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ despite lyrical content

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This was posted by Rodney Ho on AJC’s Radio & TV Talk blog on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Despite the fact people have frequently pointed out the rather creepy qualities of the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” artists continue to remake it and versions of this song still get plenty of airplay on radio stations nationwide.

The song was written by Frank Loesser in 1944. It has remained a holiday music staple for seven-plus decades.

It’s basically a man imploring a woman to stay at his house despite the fact she wants to leave. “The answer is no,” she says. Many people who see it as a precursor to rape focus on the woman’s line “Say, what’s in this drink?” (Read all the lyrics here.)

Some defenders of the song say contextually, given the time it was written, taking the lyrics at face value isn’t fair. “It’s a song about the desires even good girls have,” argued Slay Belle, who believes the woman’s resistance is merely worrying about the mores of the day, that a non-married woman staying overnight with a man was not considered a culturally acceptable action in 1944. “The song ends with the woman doing what she wants to do, not what she’s expected to do, and there’s something very encouraging about that message.”

The Daily Beast didn’t beat around the bush in a story titled “The Most WTF Covers of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside,’ Everyone’s Favorite Date-Rape Holiday Classic.” The writer noted how “adorable” the song is but how “it’s also an incredibly icky song, making its winter omnipresence a very confusing, conflicting experience.”

Saturday Night Live,” “Funny or Die” and “Key & Peele” over the years have done parodies of the song.

On the current Billboard top holiday songs chart, the Idina Menzel version from 2014 with Michael Buble was No. 50 in this year’s first weekly chart. A Dean Martin/Martina McBride version, recorded in 2007 using technology that merged the dead Martin’s 1959 take with the very live McBride, is at No. 63.

Locally, over the past week, pop station B98.5 is playing the Menzel version about once a day while country station Kicks 101.5 is peppering in the 2008 Lady Antebellum version. Star 94.1’s HD2 channel is playing both the Idina Menzel/Michael Buble and the Zooey Deschanel/Leon Redbone versions.

“I think the audience reacts to it as a piece of holiday nostalgia,” writes Star 94.1 program director Tony Lorino in an email.  Every piece of audience reaction I’ve ever seen about the song, even with it’s slightly dated lyrics, is positive.  So, for now, it’s a song we’ll continue to play on the Star Christmas Channel (94.1 HD2) and feature closer to the holidays on Star 94.1.”

 

 

 

It’s hard to say if this Menzel/Buble video using kids makes it any more appealing:

There’s a new take on the song by Brett Eldredge and Meghan Trainor that came out this year and is getting plenty of airplay.

Other duets:

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood (2016 Disney Hollywood Celebration)

Seth MacFarlane and Sara Bareilles (2014)

Darius Rucker and Sheryl Crow (2014)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lady Gaga (2013) (in a role reversal)

Zach Braff and Donald Faison (“Scrubs”) 2011 (very jazzy!)

Chris Colfer and Daren Criss on “Glee” (2010)

Willie Nelson and Norah Jones (2009) (wild age difference there!)

Lady Antebellum (2008)

Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton (2004)

Vanessa Williams/Bobby Caldwell (1996)

Ray Charles/Betty Carter (1961)

The original film version from 1949’s ‘Neptune’s Daughter.” Loesser won an Academy Award for this song.

The only major market radio station playing all Christmas, 104.7/The Fish, has not played any version of the song since it switched format last Wednesday.

 


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