Baby, It's Cold Outside

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For other works with this title, see Baby, It's Cold Outside (disambiguation).
Cpl. Jeremy Catledge of the U.S. Marine Corps Pacific Band and guest entertainer Ginai sing "Baby It’s Cold Outside" at the Fourth Annual Na Mele o na Keiki (Music for the Children) Holiday Concert in 2011.

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" is a song written by Frank Loesser in 1944.[1] 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 '50s. Until the late '90s, 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 '70s and '80s, 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. Frank would introduce himself as the "Evil of Two Loessers", a play on the theme of the song, trying to keep the girl from leaving. Garland considered it "their song" and was furious when Loesser sold the song to MGM.[2]


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.[3] 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,[4] 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".[5] 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.[6][7] 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][4]

The song is heard on stations around Christmas time. It is a popular duet as the lyrics as conversation with interjections by the "wolf" cause some interaction between the vocalists.[6]


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

Neptune's Daughter[edit]

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.[2] 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.[1]

The song "debuted", with slightly different lyrics, at the Oscar ceremony via a performance by Mae West and Rock Hudson.

1949 recordings[edit]

The following versions were recorded in 1949:

Other recordings and performances[edit]

"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.

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[edit]

  • 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.

Rudolf Nureyev and Miss Piggy performed the song in a steam bath on The Muppet Show, with Nureyev doing the "mouse" parts and Miss Piggy doing the "wolf" parts.

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[13]) 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 2002, Lee Ann Womack recorded the song for her album The Season for Romance with Harry Connick, Jr.

Other recordings include then-spouses Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey for her 2004 Christmas album and Brian Littrell and his wife Leighanne in 2010.

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.[14] The song was later performed by Cameron Mitchell and Lindsay Pearce on The Glee Project '​s fifth episode, "Pairability".

Mindy White of Lydia and Anthony Green of Circa Survive performed the song as a duet in 2010, which was released as a free digital download.

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).

Season 10 American Idol finalists Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams released a cover of the song for digital download on November 21, 2011.

In 2012, Rita Coolidge and Lynn Coulter covered the song for the 2012 holiday album A Rita Coolidge Christmas.

Astrid and John from the Belgian TV-series Astrid in Wonderland.[15]

Ben Folds and Sara Bareilles performed the song on a special Christmas episode of The Sing-Off.

Kate Voegele and Will Anderson covered this song and allowed their fans to download it free on December 21, 2011.

Donald Faison and Zach Braff, who play main characters in the television series Scrubs, released a video on Christmas Eve 2011 performing the song on YouTube.[16]

Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera covered the song for the 2012 holiday album Cee Lo's Magic Moment.

Lyle Lovett and Kat Edmonson covered the song on the 2012 Release Me album.

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John recorded it with Travolta as the "mouse" and Newton-John as the "wolf" on their 2012 album This Christmas.

Mac Miller, under the pseudonym Larry Lovestein, and Ariana Grande recorded and covered this song. It was released for free download on December 24, 2012

Dianne Reeves and Lou Rawls cover this on the 1995 Blue Note Records release Jazz to the World, a shoot-off of the Very Special Christmas series.

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.

In 2013, Kelly Clarkson covered the song with Ronnie Dunn for her sixth studio album Wrapped in Red.[17]

In 2013 Ryan Kelly of Celtic Thunder reprised the song on Natalie Toro's Christmas album Just in Time For Christmas.

In 2013 Lady Gaga with Joseph Gordon-Levitt performed this song on Thanksgiving television special Lady Gaga and the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular.

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.

In the 2014 film Dying of the Light (film) the song and Sayyid Qutb are referenced in an ideological discussion between characters played by Nicholas Cage and Alexander Karim.

Reference in the writings of Sayyid Qutb[edit]

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."[18] Qutb was a leading thinker of the Muslim Brotherhood and his book had a major impact on Islamist views concerning America.[19][20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 134. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ a b 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. 
  3. ^ Riis, Thomas Laurence (January 1, 2008). Frank Loesser. Yale University Press. pp. 71–73. ISBN 0300110510. 
  4. ^ a b Belle, Slay (6 December 2010). "Listening While Feminist: In Defense of "Baby It's Cold Outside"". Persephone Magazine. 
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b Deusner, Stephen (December 10, 2012). "Is "Baby, It's Cold Outside" a date-rape anthem?". Retrieved December 17, 2012. 
  7. ^ Christmas songs that illustrate the worst in humanity by George Ouzounian
  8. ^ By '+data[show_id].byLines[0].name+' (2010-06-29). "Comment made by Michael Feinstein during Fresh Air Celebrates Frank Loesser's 100th Birthday interview". Retrieved 2014-02-20. 
  9. ^ a b c d Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940–1955. Record Research. 
  10. ^ "Jul hos mig" (in Swedish). Svensk mediedatabas. 2009. Retrieved December 24, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Retrieved January 7, 2014". 2011-09-20. Retrieved 2014-02-20. 
  12. ^ "Adult Contemporary". Billboard. December 20, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2014. 
  13. ^ Al Hirt, Beauty and the Beard Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  14. ^ "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. 
  15. ^ Baby It's Cold Outside, Astrid and John on YouTube
  16. ^ Baby Its Cold Outside, Zach Braff and Donald Faison Holiday Video on YouTube.
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ Sayyid Qutb ash- Shaheed, The America I Have Seen
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ Steyn, Mark, "Baby, He's Gold Inside", Wall Street Journal, February 2, 2008.

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