Baby, It's Cold Outside

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

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" is an Academy Award-winning popular song written by Frank Loesser in 1944, and gained wide recognition when it was performed 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.

Since 2009, the song has faced some criticism for the presumed implications of its lyrics as depicting sexual assault or harassment. In 2018, the airing of the song was cancelled by a number of radio stations, such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's streaming service, due to some listeners' concerns about the lyrics,[1] but later reinstated it after public backlash.[2]


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.[3] 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."[3] 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."[4] The song won the 1949 Academy Award for Best Original Song.[5][6]


This duet is a conversation 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), in call and response form. Every line in the song features a statement from the guest followed by a response from the host. While both the Wolf and the Mouse want the night to continue, the Mouse says she "ought to say no, no, no, sir" and return home, because of what family and neighbors will think.[7] In the film Neptune's Daughter the song is first performed by Ricardo Montalbán and Esther Williams, then by Betty Garrett and Red Skelton but with a comic parody twist: this time the man wants to leave and the woman is the host and wants him to stay.[8]

In at least one published version the tempo of the song is given as "Loesserando", a humorous reference to the composer's name.[9]

1949 recordings[edit]

Other recordings[edit]

Year Performer Work Source
1951 Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton Satchmo at Pasadena [15]
1955 Eddie Fisher and June Hutton Eddie Fisher Sings Academy Award Winning Songs [16]
1957 Sammy Davis Jr. and Carmen McRae Boy Meets Girl [17][18]
1959 Jack Marshall (instrumental) Soundsville! [19]
1959 Dean Martin and female chorus[20] A Winter Romance [21]
1961 Ray Charles and Betty Carter Ray Charles and Betty Carter [22]
1961 Sacha Distel and unidentified female From Paris with Love [23]
1964 Al Hirt and Ann-Margret Beauty and the Beard [24]
1964 Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme 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 Nina & Frederik [28]
1966 Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery (instrumental) Jimmy & Wes: The Dynamic Duo [29]
1972 Rod McKuen and Liesbeth List [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 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]
2013 Kelly Clarkson and Ronnie Dunn Wrapped in Red [59]
2013 Jimmy Fallon and Cecily Strong Saturday Night Live [60][61]
2013 Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon-Levitt Lady Gaga and the Muppets Holiday Spectacular [62]
2013 Martina McBride and Dean Martin The Classic Christmas Album [63]
2014 Connie Britton and Will Chase Christmas with Nashville [64]
2014 Seth MacFarlane and Sara Bareilles Holiday for Swing [65]
2014 Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé Holiday Wishes [66]
2014 Darius Rucker and Sheryl Crow Home for the Holidays [67]
2014 Virginia to Vegas and Alyssa Reid [68]
2016 Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood Christmas Together [69]
2016 Jimmy Buffett and Nadirah Shakoor[a] 'Tis the SeaSon [71]
2016 Brett Eldredge and Meghan Trainor Glow [72]
2016 John Farnham and Olivia Newton-John Friends for Christmas [73]
2016 Amy Grant and Vince Gill Tennessee Christmas [74]
2017 Fantasia and CeeLo Green Christmas After Midnight [75]
2017 Kelley Jakle and Shelley Regner Pitch Perfect 3 [76]
2017 Avril Lavigne and Jonny Blu [77]
2018 Aaron Watson An Aaron Watson Family Christmas [78]
2019 The Boys Christmas with the Boys [79]
2019 Disco Pirates It’s Cold Outside (Don’t Go) [80]
2019 John Legend and Kelly Clarkston A Legendary Christmas: Deluxe Edition [81]
2019 Scott Matthew and Sia Silent Nights [82]
  1. ^ Buffett and Shakoor reverse the gender-specific lyrics, with he the "Mouse" and she the "Wolf".[70]

Lyrics controversy[edit]

Since 2009, the song has faced some criticism from feminist circles for the alleged implications of its lyrics. Although some critical analyses of the song have highlighted parts of the lyrics, such as "What's in this drink?" and the "wolf's" (man's) unrelenting pressure for the "mouse" (woman) to stay in spite of her repeated suggestions that she should go home, as being suggestive of sexual harassment or even date rape,[83][84] 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.[83][85][86]

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.[1] 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 #MeToo movement".[87] 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.[88][89][90] 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.[91] CBC Radio subsequently reinstated the song as well.[2] 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.[92]

In 2019, vocalists John Legend and Kelly Clarkson recorded the song (with modified lyrics, written by Legend and Natasha Rothwell, attempting to address some of the aforementioned criticisms) for a new deluxe edition of Legend's A Legendary Christmas album.[93] Deana Martin criticized the new interpretation as "absurd," saying her father would not have approved of Legend altering the lyrics (which she maintained to be more sexual in the new version than in Loesser's original) in order to appease contemporary sensibilities.[94]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kinos-Goodin, Jesse (December 3, 2018). "Have we hit peak cancel culture?". CBC. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "CBC reinstates 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' amid audience reaction". December 11, 2018. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  3. ^ 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. p. 79. ISBN 0634009273. OCLC 44131813.
  4. ^ "I've Got the Song Right Here!: Inside the Music of Frank Loesser". Schimmel Center at Pace University. October 26, 2016.
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 134. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  6. ^ Inman, Davis (December 19, 2011). "Ray Charles and Betty Carter, "Baby, It's Cold Outside"". American Songwriter. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  7. ^ Riis, Thomas Laurence (January 1, 2008). Frank Loesser. Yale University Press. pp. 71–73. ISBN 0300110510.
  8. ^ "Baby, It's Cold Outside". YouTube. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  9. ^ Feinstein, Michael (June 29, 2010). "Fresh Air Celebrates Frank Loesser's 100th Birthday43". Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  10. ^ "Pearl Bailey And Hot Lips Page – Baby, It's Cold Outside / The Huckle-Buck". Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940–1955. Record Research.
  12. ^ Loesser, Lynn & Loesser, Frank (December 16, 2017). "Baby It's Cold Outside". Retrieved December 16, 2017 – via Internet Archive.
  13. ^ "Homer And Jethro With June Carter – Baby, It's Cold Outside (With Apologies To Frank Loesser)". Retrieved September 30, 2018.
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  17. ^ "Boy Meets Girl: Sammy Davis, Jr. and Carmen McRae". Retrieved December 16, 2017.
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  23. ^ "Sacha Distel – From Paris With Love". Discogs. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  24. ^ "Beauty and the Beard". AllMusic. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  25. ^ Denning, Mark. "That Holiday Feeling!". AllMusic. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  26. ^ {[cite web|last1=Wilds|first1=Tony|url= Vs. Ros, Round 2|website=AllMusic|accessdate=November 18, 2018}}
  27. ^ Adams, Greg. "The Academy Award Songs". AllMusic. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  28. ^ "Rod McKuen & Liesbeth List – Baby It's Cold Outside (Vinyl)". Discogs. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  29. ^ Ginell, Richard S. "Jimmy & Wes: The Dynamic Duo". AllMusic. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  30. ^ "Nina And Frederik – Baby, It's Cold Outside (1966, Vinyl)". Discogs. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  31. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Because It's Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  32. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "For the Boys". AllMusic. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  33. ^ Batdorf, Rodney. "Just in Time for Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
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  35. ^ Haney, Shawn M. "Star Bright". AllMusic. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  36. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "This Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  37. ^ Wolff, Carlo. "Reload". AllMusic. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  38. ^ Widran, Jonathan. "The Still of the Night". AllMusic. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  39. ^ "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  40. ^ "Baby, It's Cold Outside". AllMusic. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  41. ^ Horowitz, Hal. "Boogie Woogie Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  42. ^ Widran, Jonathan. "The Season for Romance". AllMusic. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  43. ^ Phares, Heather. "Elf". AllMusic. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  44. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "ReJoyce: The Christmas Album". AllMusic. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  45. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Stardust: The Great American Songbook, Vol. 3". AllMusic. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  46. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "A Christmas Album". AllMusic. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  47. ^ Sterling, Todd. "Anne Murray's Christmas Album". AllMusic. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
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  54. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Christmas in the Sand". AllMusic. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  55. ^ Goble, Corban. "Holidays Rule". Retrieved October 11, 2012.
  56. ^ Leggett, Steve. "A Rita Coolidge Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  57. ^ Kellman, Andy. "CeeLo's Magic Moment". AllMusic. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  58. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Release Me". AllMusic. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  59. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Wrapped in Red". AllMusic. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  60. ^ McGlynn, Katla (December 22, 2013). "Their Version Of 'Baby It's Cold Outside' Is So Much Better". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  61. ^ "Jimmy Fallon's 'Baby It's Cold Outside' SNL Duet Has Hilariously Cold Modern Twist". Mediaite. December 22, 2013. Archived from the original on December 24, 2013. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  62. ^ "Watch Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett Sing Gorgeous 'Baby It's Cold Outside' Duet in New Commercial". Billboard. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  63. ^ Leggett, Steve. "The Classic Christmas Album". AllMusic. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  64. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Christmas with Nashville". AllMusic. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
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  70. ^ "A Point of View", audio by Adam Gopnik, BBC Radio 4, December 2016
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  72. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Glow". AllMusic. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  73. ^ "Friends for Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  74. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Tennessee Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  75. ^ "Christmas After Midnight". AllMusic. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  76. ^ Donelson, Marcy. "Pitch Perfect 3 [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]". AllMusic. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
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  78. ^ "An Aaron Watson Family Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
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  82. ^
  83. ^ a b Hannun, Marya (December 19, 2014). "'Baby It's Cold Outside' was once an anthem for progressive women. What happened?". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
  84. ^ Carlton, Jim (December 12, 2018). "'Baby, It's Cold Outside' Heats Up Culture Wars". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  85. ^ "Listening While Feminist: In Defense of 'Baby, It's Cold Outside'". Persephone Magazine. December 6, 2010.
  86. ^ "The 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' fight is back — but why?!". Salon. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  87. ^ "#MeToo movement causes Cleveland radio station to stop playing 'Baby It's Cold Outside'". NBC4i. NBC4. November 30, 2018. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  88. ^ "Radio station pulls Baby, It's Cold Outside from airwaves, sparks internet firestorm". CBC Radio. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  89. ^ "Radio Station Removes 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' From Rotation During #MeToo Peak". Billboard. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  90. ^ "Is Baby It's Cold Outside an ode to rape that deserves its sudden banishment from Canadian radio?". National Post. December 4, 2018. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  91. ^ "Radio station returns 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' to playlist after 'overwhelming' poll results". CBS News. December 11, 2018. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  92. ^ "Despite #MeToo Backlash, Dean Martin's 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' Hits Top 10 on Digital Song Sales Chart". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  93. ^ Thompson, Stephen (November 8, 2019). "'Tis Already The Season To Argue About 'Baby, It's Cold Outside'". Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  94. ^ Juneau, Jen (November 8, 2019). "Dean Martin's Daughter Speaks Out About John Legend's New Version of 'Baby, It's Cold Outside'". People Magazine. Retrieved November 9, 2019.

External links[edit]