Baby, It's Cold Outside

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" is a popular song written by Frank Loesser in 1944 and introduced to the public in the 1949 film Neptune's Daughter. While the lyrics make no mention of a holiday, it is popularly regarded as a Christmas song owing to its winter theme. The song was released in eight recordings in 1949 and has been covered numerous times since.

"Baby, It's Cold Outside"
Song
Written1944
Published1949 by Susan Publications/Edwin H Morris and Co.
Songwriter(s)Frank Loesser

HistoryEdit

During the 1940s, whenever Hollywood celebrities with vocal talents attended parties, they were expected to perform songs. In 1944, Loesser wrote "Baby, It's Cold Outside" to sing with his wife, Lynn Garland, at their housewarming party in New York City at the Navarro Hotel. They sang the song to indicate to guests that it was time to leave.[1] Garland has written that after the first performance, "We became instant parlor room stars. We got invited to all the best parties for years on the basis of 'Baby.' It was our ticket to caviar and truffles. Parties were built around our being the closing act."[1] In 1948, after years of performing the song, Loesser sold it to MGM for the 1949 romantic comedy Neptune's Daughter. Garland was furious: "I felt as betrayed as if I'd caught him in bed with another woman."[2]

According to Esther Williams, the producers of Neptune's Daughter planned to use a different Frank Loesser song, (I'd Like to Get You on a) Slow Boat to China, but studio censors thought it was too suggestive and replaced it with "Baby."[3]

The song won the 1949 Academy Award for Best Original Song.[4][5]

LyricsEdit

The song is a call and response duet between two people, a host (called "Wolf" in the score, usually performed by a male singer) and a guest (called "Mouse", usually performed by a female). Every line in the song features a statement from the guest followed by a response from the host. The lyrics consist of the host trying to convince the guest that she should stay for a romantic evening because he fears her getting too cold outside, despite the fact that she feels she should return home to her concerned family and neighbors.[6] In the film Neptune's Daughter, the song is first performed by Ricardo Montalbán and Esther Williams, then with a comic parody twist by Betty Garrett and Red Skelton: this time the man wants to leave and the woman is the host and wants him to stay.[7]

In at least one published version the tempo of the song is given as "Loesserando", a humorous reference to the composer's name.[8]

1949 recordingsEdit

  • Don Cornell and Laura Leslie with the Sammy Kaye orchestra; recorded on April 12 and released by RCA Victor (peaked at No. 12 on Billboard's Records Most Played By Disk Jockeys chart, at No. 13 on Billboard's Best-Selling Popular Retail Records chart (lasting ten weeks on the chart), and at No. 17 on Billboard's Most-Played Juke Box Records chart in mid 1949)[9]
  • Bing Crosby and James Stewart, abbreviated radio performance with Stewart taking the "mouse" part, from The Bing Crosby – Chesterfield Show; released on The Bing Crosby Christmas Gift Collection[10]
  • Doris Day and Bob Hope; radio performance from The Bob Hope Show[11]
  • Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan; recorded on April 28 and released by Decca Records (peaked at No. 9 on Billboard's Most-Played Juke Box Records chart and at No. 17 on Billboard's Best-Selling Popular Retail Records chart (lasting seven weeks on the latter chart) in mid 1949)[9]
  • Lynn Garland and Frank Loesser (credited as Lynn & Frank Loesser); released by Mercury Records[12]
  • Homer and Jethro and June Carter; released by RCA Victor (peaked at No. 22 on Billboard's Records Most Played By Disk Jockeys chart on the week ending August 20, 1949)[9]
  • Dean Martin and Marilyn Maxwell; radio performance from The Martin and Lewis Show; released on several compilations, including The Very Best of Dean Martin and Relax, It's Dean Martin, Vol 2[13]
  • Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark;[14] recorded on March 17 and released by Columbia Records[9] (peaked at No. 3 on Billboard's Records Most Played By Disk Jockeys chart, at No. 4 on Billboard's Best-Selling Popular Retail Records chart, and at No. 6 on Billboard's Most-Played Juke Box Records chart in mid 1949)[9]
  • Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer; recorded on March 18 and released by Capitol Records (peaked at No. 3 on Billboard's Records Most Played By Disk Jockeys chart, at No. 4 on Billboard's Best-Selling Popular Retail Records chart (lasting 19 weeks on the chart), and at No. 8 on Billboard's Most-Played Juke Box Records chart in mid 1949)[9]

Other recordingsEdit

As of 2020, there are over 400 recordings of the song.[15] The following list is incomplete.

Year Performer Work Source
1951 Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton Satchmo at Pasadena [16]
1955 Eddie Fisher and June Hutton Eddie Fisher Sings Academy Award Winning Songs [17]
1957 Sammy Davis Jr. and Carmen McRae Boy Meets Girl [18][19]
1959 Jack Marshall (instrumental) Soundsville! [20]
1959 Dean Martin and female chorus[21] A Winter Romance [22]
1961 Ray Charles and Betty Carter Ray Charles and Betty Carter [23]
1964 Al Hirt and Ann-Margret Beauty and the Beard [24]
1964 Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé That Holiday Feeling! [25]
1966 Ted Heath and Edmundo Ros (instrumental) Heath vs. Ros: Round 2 [26]
1966 Henry Mancini, female and male choirs The Academy Award Songs [27]
1966 Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery (instrumental) Jimmy & Wes: The Dynamic Duo [28]
1967 Skeeter Davis and Don Bowman [29]
1979 Blossom Dearie and Bob Dorough Needlepoint Magic, Vol. 5 [30]
1990 Barry Manilow and K. T. Oslin Because It's Christmas [31]
1991 Bette Midler and James Caan For the Boys [32]
1994 Nancy LaMott and Michael Feinstein Just in Time for Christmas [33]
1995 Lou Rawls and Dianne Reeves Jazz to the World [34]
1996 Vanessa Williams and Bobby Caldwell Star Bright [35]
1998 Ann Hampton Callaway and Kenny Rankin This Christmas [36]
1999 Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews Reload [37]
2000 Tom Wopat and Antonia Bennett The Still of the Night [38]
2001 Suzy Bogguss and Delbert McClinton Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas [39]
2000 Holly Cole Baby, It's Cold Outside [40]
2002 Brian Setzer and Ann-Margret Boogie Woogie Christmas [41]
2002 Lee Ann Womack and Harry Connick Jr. The Season for Romance [42]
2003 Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone Elf [43]
2004 Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey ReJoyce: The Christmas Album [44]
2004 Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton Stardust: The Great American Songbook, Volume III [45]
2004 James Taylor and Natalie Cole A Christmas Album [46]
2008 Anne Murray and Michael Bublé Anne Murray's Christmas Album [47]
2009 Lady Antebellum Country for Christmas [48]
2009 Willie Nelson and Norah Jones American Classic [49]
2009 Rick Dempsey and Deanna Bogart Home Run Holiday [50]
2010 Chris Colfer and Darren Criss Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album [51]
2011 Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams [52]
2011 She & Him A Very She & Him Christmas [53]
2012 Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw Christmas in the Sand [54]
2012 Rufus Wainwright and Sharon Van Etten Holidays Rule [55]
2012 Rita Coolidge with drummer Lynn Coulter A Rita Coolidge Christmas [56]
2012 Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera Cee Lo's Magic Moment [57]
2012 Lyle Lovett and Kat Edmonson Release Me [58]
2012 Larry Lovestein and Ariana Grande [59]
2013 Kelly Clarkson and Ronnie Dunn Wrapped in Red [60]
2013 Jimmy Fallon and Cecily Strong Saturday Night Live [61][62]
2013 Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon-Levitt Lady Gaga and the Muppets Holiday Spectacular [63]
2013 Martina McBride and Dean Martin The Classic Christmas Album [64]
2014 Connie Britton and Will Chase Christmas with Nashville [65]
2014 Joey DeFrancesco (instrumental) Home for the Holidays [66]
2014 Seth MacFarlane and Sara Bareilles Holiday for Swing [67]
2014 Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé Holiday Wishes [68]
2014 Darius Rucker and Sheryl Crow Home for the Holidays [69]
2014 Virginia to Vegas and Alyssa Reid [70]
2016 Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood Christmas Together [71]
2016 Jimmy Buffett and Nadirah Shakoor[a] 'Tis the SeaSon [73]
2016 Brett Eldredge and Meghan Trainor Glow [74]
2016 John Farnham and Olivia Newton-John Friends for Christmas [75]
2016 Amy Grant and Vince Gill Tennessee Christmas [76]
2017 Fantasia and CeeLo Green Christmas After Midnight [77]
2017 Kelley Jakle and Shelley Regner Pitch Perfect 3 [78]
2017 Avril Lavigne and Jonny Blu [79]
2017 Adrienne Bailon and Israel Houghton Baby It's Cold Outside / Frio Frio [80]
2018 Aaron Watson An Aaron Watson Family Christmas [81]
2019 The Boys Christmas with the Boys [82]
2019 Disco Pirates It’s Cold Outside (Don’t Go) [83]
2019 John Legend and Kelly Clarkson A Legendary Christmas: Deluxe Edition [84]
2019 Scott Matthew and Sia Silent Nights [85]
2020 Ludwig Ahgren and QTCinderella A Very Mogul Christmas [86]
2020 Gemma Collins and Darren Day [87]
  1. ^ Buffett and Shakoor reverse the gender-specific lyrics, with he the "Mouse" and she the "Wolf".[72]

Lyrical controversyEdit

Since 2009, the song has faced criticism among some listeners for the alleged implications of its lyrics, with certain elements, such as the line "What's in this drink?" and the host's unrelenting pressure for the guest to stay in spite of her repeated suggestions that she should go home, being described as suggestive of sexual harassment or even date rape.[88][89] However, others have noted that cultural expectations at the time of the song's writing were such that women were not socially permitted to spend the night with a boyfriend or fiancé, and that the woman states that she wants to stay, while "What's in this drink?" was a common idiom of the period used to rebuke social expectations by blaming one's actions on the influence of alcohol.[88][90][91] Susan Loesser, the daughter of Frank Loesser, blamed the song's negative connotation on its association with Bill Cosby after television programs such as Saturday Night Live and South Park depicted the song being performed by the comedian, who had been accused of sexually assaulting several women and later convicted in one case.[92][93]

In 2018, the airing of the song was cancelled by a number of radio stations including Canada's CBC streaming service, after social media criticism and public pressure regarding the song's lyrics.[94] On November 30, 2018, Cleveland, Ohio, radio station WDOK Star 102 announced that it had removed the song from its playlist due to its lyric content, based on listener input, amid the Me Too movement.[95] On December 4, 2018, the Canadian radio broadcasters Bell Media, CBC Radio, and Rogers Media followed suit. The decision was divisive among critics and the general public, with supporters arguing that the song's possible implications of date rape did not align with current societal norms, and others arguing that the decision was an appeal to political correctness.[96][97][98] Station KOIT in San Francisco, having placed the song "on hold" pending listener feedback, returned it to the playlist after 77% of respondents opposed its removal.[99] CBC Radio subsequently reinstated the song as well.[100] Following the controversy, the song rose to the top 10 of Billboard's digital sales list for the week of December 22, 2018, with a 70% increase in downloads.[101]

In 2019, vocalists John Legend and Kelly Clarkson also recorded the song with modified lyrics, written by Legend and Natasha Rothwell for a new edition of Legend's A Legendary Christmas album.[102] Deana Martin, whose father Dean Martin recorded a popular version of the song in 1959, criticized the new interpretation as "absurd", saying her father would not have approved of altering the lyrics (which she maintained to be more sexually explicit in the new version than in Loesser's original) in order to appease contemporary sensibilities.[103]

ChartsEdit

Year-end chartsEdit

Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé versionEdit

Chart (2015) Position
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[151] 45

Brett Eldredge and Meghan Trainor versionEdit

Chart (2017) Position
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[152] 50

CertificationsEdit

Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé versionEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[153] Silver 200,000 

  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit