Baby, It's Cold Outside
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"Baby, It's Cold Outside" is a song written by Frank Loesser in 1944. Although popular during the Christmas and holiday season, it was written to be a romantic winter song such as "Winter Wonderland" or "Marshmallow World". Unlike the latter two songs, though, "Baby , It's Cold Outside" had been played on radio all year around throughout the 50's. Until the late 1990s, the song was considered more of a pop standard and not a Christmas song. When the Big Band/Adult Standards format became widely employed on AM radio stations in the 70's and 80's, this song was widely played on that format. As contemporary artists began recording the song, the All Christmas format during Advent (and in some cases a couple weeks before) began to grow in 2001, and stations began looking for more product, this song began to be played by various artists that had recorded it. In 2014, several artists recorded the song and three versions are being widely played as well as versions from other years.
Loesser wrote the duet in 1944 and premiered the song with his wife, Lynn Garland, at their Navarro Hotel housewarming party, and performed it toward the end of the evening, signifying to guests that it was nearly time to end the party. Garland considered it "their song" and was furious when Loesser sold the song to MGM.
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The lyrics in this duet are designed to be heard as a conversation between two people, marked as "mouse" and "wolf" on the printed score; they have returned to the "wolf's" home after a date, and the "mouse" decides it is time to go home, but the "wolf" flirtatiously invites them to stay as it is late and "it's cold outside". The "mouse" wants to stay and enjoy themselves, but feels obligated to return home, worried what family and neighbours will think if they stay. Every line in the song features a statement from the "mouse" followed by a response from the "wolf". Although the two roles in the duet are often considered to be gender-specific, with the "wolf" being male and the "mouse" being female, as early as 1948, there were versions of the song with these roles reversed.
In recent years, there has been criticism of the song, stemming from a modernistic reading of the wolf/mouse dynamic as being sexually predatory. While traditionally interpreted as the mouse wanting to stay and putting up only token protests for the sake of appearance, some commentators perceive the lyrics as the "mouse" as genuinely wanting to leave but being stopped by the "wolf" being coercive in his pleading. These readers cite certain lines as being questionable, including "I simply must go", "The answer is no", "I've got to go home". There is also the line "Hey, what's in this drink", which is seen as implicative of alcohol affecting the "mouse's" judgement or that they have been drugged. However, many movies,[which?] at the time the song was written, used a similar line to refer to someone behaving in a different manner than they expected and blaming it on the alcohol.[neutrality is disputed]
In 1948, after years of informally performing the song at various parties, Loesser sold its rights to MGM, which inserted the song into its 1949 motion picture, Neptune's Daughter. The film featured two performances of the song: one by Ricardo Montalbán and Esther Williams and the other by Red Skelton and Betty Garrett, the second of which has the roles of wolf and mouse reversed. These performances earned Loesser an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
The following versions were recorded in 1949:
- The song in its original form was released on the soundtrack for Neptune's Daughter sung by Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams.
- The recording by Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark was recorded on March 17 and released by Columbia Records as catalog number 38463. It first reached the Billboard Best Seller chart on May 6, 1949, and lasted 19 weeks on the chart, peaking at number four.
- The recording by Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer was recorded on March 18 and released by Capitol Records as catalog number 567. It first reached the Billboard Best Seller chart on May 6, 1949, and lasted 19 weeks on the chart, peaking at number four.
- The recording by Don Cornell and Laura Leslie with the Sammy Kaye orchestra was recorded on April 12 and released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-3448. It first reached the Billboard Best Seller chart on June 24, 1949, and lasted 10 weeks on the chart, peaking at number 13.
- The recording by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan was recorded on April 28 and released by Decca Records as catalog number 24644. It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on June 17, 1949 and lasted seven weeks on the chart, peaking at number 17.
- A parody recording was made by Homer and Jethro with June Carter; it went to number 9 on the country charts and number 22 on the pop charts.
- Non-charting recordings were made:
Other recordings and performances
"Baby, It's Cold Outside" has been recorded by numerous other artists over the years. At least five different versions of the song have made at least one singles chart in the United States.
- Sammy Davis, Jr. and Carmen McRae recorded the duet in 1957 as part of their collaborative album, Boy Meets Girl.
- Dean Martin recorded the song for his 1959 album A Winter Romance. On this version the part of the "mouse" is sung by a female chorus.
- The 1961 Ray Charles/Betty Carter version is the first of two versions to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart (1958 to present) and the only one for over forty-eight years; it peaked at number 91 in March 1962. This version was used in the 1990s on the program A Different World, in which a husband and wife lip sync to the recording as a means of flirtation.
- In 1979, Blossom Dearie recorded it with Bob Dorough (Needlepoint Magic - Daffodil Records)
- Ray Charles also sang this duet with Dionne Warwick at the 1987 Grammy Awards.
- Bette Midler and James Caan sang the duet in the 1991 film For the Boys, which was also included on the film's soundtrack.
- The song is also on Robert Palmer's 1992 album Ridin' High. He performs it with Carnie Wilson of Wilson Phillips.
- Vanessa Williams and rhythm and blues/jazz performer Bobby Caldwell featured the song on Williams' first holiday album, Star Bright.
- Liza Minnelli & Alan Cumming recorded it for the Broadway Christmas Album Home for the Holidays.
- Bebe Neuwirth and John Lithgow recorded it for NBC Celebrity Christmas released in 2001.
- In 1998, Drew Carey and Shirley Jones sang the song together on a season 4 episode of The Drew Carey Show titled "Drew Dates a Senior."
- In 1999, Cerys Matthews and Tom Jones collaborated to record a version for Jones' album Reload. and also released in the US on the CD Now That's What I Call Christmas!: The Signature Collection.
- Brian Setzer and Ann-Margret perform the song on the 2002 Brian Setzer Orchestra album Boogie Woogie Christmas.
- Liz Phair and Wheat recorded a version in 2003 that has been released digitally.
- In 2006, James Taylor released a version featuring Natalie Cole on his James Taylor at Christmas album.
- In 2007, Matt Belsante released a version on the album White Christmas.
- In 2009, Lotta Engberg recorded the song on the album Jul hos mig, as a duet with Alexander Rybak.
- In 2009, Namibian singer Nianell and South African singer Dozi released a version on their duets album It Takes Two.
- In 2011, As part of the duo She & Him, Zoey Deschanel recorded the song with M. Ward for their holiday album, A Very She and Him Christmas.
- In 2011, R&B singer Dina Rae recorded a duet with actor Peter Dante for the Adam Sandler film Jack & Jill
- In 2013, The Choir singer Derri Daugherty and Sixpence None the Richer's Leigh Nash recorded a version for The Choir's Peace, Love & Light Christmas EP.
- In 2013, Jase Robertson and his wife, Missy, recorded the song for the Robertson family's Christmas album, Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas.
- In 2014, Seth MacFarlane and Sara Bareilles recorded a version for MacFarlane's Christmas album, Holiday for Swing. This version peaked at No. 10 on Billboard's weekly Adult Contemporary chart for the week ending December 20, 2014.
- Also in 2014, Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé recorded a version for Menzel's Christmas album, Holiday Wishes. This version debuted and peaked at No. 78 on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week ending December 6, 2014. This version also climbed to No. 1 on Billboard's weekly Adult Contemporary chart for the week ending December 20, 2014.
- Also in 2014, Darius Rucker and Sheryl Crow recorded a version for Rucker's Christmas album, Home for the Holidays. This version peaked at No. 13 on Billboard's weekly Adult Contemporary chart for the week ending December 27, 2014.
Two versions have also made the Hot Country Songs charts: Martina McBride in an overdubbed duet with Dean Martin, peaked at number 36, and a duet between Willie Nelson and Norah Jones reached number 55 in January 2010. However, perhaps the most famous country version is performed by Dolly Parton with Rod Stewart, which in 2004 also made it to number two on the US Adult Contemporary chart.
Featured in popular culture
- On an episode of his radio show broadcast December 14, 1949, Bing Crosby sang the song in a comedic duet with actor James Stewart.
- Sigourney Weaver and Buster Poindexter performed a duet of the song on the first episode of the 12th season of Saturday Night Live in 1986.
- Also in 1986, an episode of My Little Pony is entitled Baby, It's Cold Outside.
- In 1990, Barry Manilow recorded the song in a duet with K.T. Oslin for Manilow's album Because It's Christmas; his version of the song in particular has become a popular version amongst radio stations whose format changes to Christmas music during the Holiday Season.
- Mayim Bialik and Ted Wass perform this song in an episode of Blossom.
In 1991 Lauren Bacall and Thora Birch performed it in the movie All I Want for Christmas.
- The song was featured in the video game mafia 2's radio stations.
Actress/singer Zooey Deschanel, who appeared in the 2003 film Elf, recorded the song with Leon Redbone for the film's soundtrack. In the movie itself, Deschanel sings part of the song with Will Ferrell while she is showering and he is sitting on the bathroom counter.
A version released by country music group Lady Antebellum in 2008 reached number 1 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100. The band performed the song live on NBC's Today Show the morning of Christmas Eve 2008. Lady Antebellum's original studio recording of the song was included the following year on the NOW That's What I Call A Country Christmas compilation two-disc CD set, released October 6, 2009.
Ryan Kelly of Celtic Thunder and Charley Bird perform the song on the group's Christmas album (2010).
Arizona rock band The Asphalt recorded a version of the song and released it to radio and for sale on the internet on November 1, 2010.
Other odd couples who have recorded the song are Al Hirt and Ann-Margret (on The Most Fabulous Christmas Album Ever and Beauty and the Beard) and Rod McKuen and Petula Clark (on the A 1940s Christmas album). McKuen also performed the song with Dusty Springfield on his "Christmas in New England" special in 1978, using identical instrumentals to the Clark performance.
In 2006, Leigh Nash recorded this song with Gabe Dixon for her Holiday EP Wishing For This. This version was also featured on a 2006 holiday compilation album called Do You Hear What I Hear? (from Nettwerk records).
In 2010, Chris Colfer and Darren Criss performed the song on the TV show Glee as Kurt Hummel and Blaine Anderson respectively in the episode "A Very Glee Christmas". It had been released the month before on the album Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album, and although the song was not separately released as a single, it nevertheless charted at number 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 after the show aired. The song was later performed by Cameron Mitchell and Lindsay Pearce on The Glee Project 's fifth episode, "Pairability".
Andy Gullahorn and Jill Phillips perform a comedic rewrite in which a wife shuts her husband outside after a very unromantic evening together, while he pleads to be let back in. The song is featured on their album "Christmas" (2010).
Sketch comedy group Key & Peele parodied the song in a sketch entitled Just Stay For The Night riffing on the song's creepy undertones with the male's persistence resulting in the female turning the tables on him and making him wish he would have let her leave.
On December 21, 2013, Saturday Night Live's Jimmy Fallon and Cecily Strong performed a spoof version in which he succeeds in talking her into a twelve-minute tryst, then immediately regrets it, with her singing about their future relationship and him trying to sing her out the door.
Reference in the writings of Sayyid Qutb
The book The America I Have Seen (1951) by Egyptian Islamist Sayyid Qutb describes a scene at a church dance Qutb attended in Greeley, Colorado: "The dance hall convulsed to the tunes on the gramophone and was full of bounding feet and seductive legs ... Arms circled waists, lips met lips, chests met chests, and the atmosphere was full of passion....And the Father chose. He chose a famous American song called 'Baby, It's Cold Outside,' which is composed of a dialog between a boy and a girl returning from an evening date." Qutb was a leading thinker of the Muslim Brotherhood and his book had a major impact on Islamist views concerning America.
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- Loesser, Susan (1993). A Most Remarkable Fella: Frank Loesser and the Guys and Dolls in His Life; A Portrait by His Daughter. Hal Leonard. pp. 79–81. ISBN 1-55611-364-1.
- Riis, Thomas Laurence (January 1, 2008). Frank Loesser. Yale University Press. pp. 71–73. ISBN 0300110510.
- Belle, Slay (6 December 2010). "Listening While Feminist: In Defense of "Baby It's Cold Outside"". Persephone Magazine.
- Wallace, Kelsey (December 6, 2011). Is She and Him Gender-Swapped "Baby, It's Cold Outside" Any Less Rape-y Than the Original? Bitch Media.
- Deusner, Stephen (December 10, 2012). "Is "Baby, It's Cold Outside" a date-rape anthem?". Salon.com. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
- Christmas songs that illustrate the worst in humanity by George Ouzounian
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- "Hot 100: Week of December 25, 2010 (Biggest Jump)". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Archived from the original on January 21, 2011. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
- Baby It's Cold Outside, Astrid and John on YouTube
- Baby Its Cold Outside, Zach Braff and Donald Faison Holiday Video on YouTube.
- McDonnell, Brandy (October 1, 2013). "Kelly Clarkson collaborates with Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, Ronnie Dunn on Christmas album". Tulsa World. BH Media. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
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- Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 22–23, 32–37. ISBN 978-0-375-41486-2.
- Steyn, Mark, "Baby, He's Gold Inside", Wall Street Journal, February 2, 2008.