Baby, It's Cold Outside

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"Baby, It's Cold Outside"
Songwriter(s)Frank Loesser

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" is an Academy Award-winning popular song written by Frank Loesser in 1944, which gained wide recognition in 1949 when it was performed in the film Neptune's Daughter. While the lyrics make no mention of any holiday, it is popularly regarded as a Christmas song owing to its winter theme. The song was released in no fewer than 8 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. 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 listeners' concerns about the lyrics,[1] but later reinstated it after public backlash.[2] (More on the controversy below.)


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]

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] This public pressure was part of the 2010s trend of cancel culture, in which critics use social media to call for the "cancellation" of cultural works (songs, TV shows, films), celebrities, or events that have purportedly transgressed social norms.


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 with female chorus[20]
also with Doris Day, who in turn sang it also with Bob Hope (1949), and Bing Crosby
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 Henry Mancini, female and male choirs The Academy Award Songs [26]
1966 Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery (instrumental) Jimmy & Wes: The Dynamic Duo [27]
1971 Ted Heath Orchestra (instrumental) Those Were the Days [28]
1972 Rod McKuen and Liesbeth List [29]
1990 Barry Manilow and K. T. Oslin Because It's Christmas [30]
1991 Bette Midler and James Caan For the Boys [31]
1994 Nancy LaMott and Michael Feinstein Just in Time for Christmas [32]
1995 Lou Rawls and Dianne Reeves Jazz to the World [33]
1996 Vanessa Williams and Bobby Caldwell Star Bright [34]
1998 Ann Hampton Callaway and Kenny Rankin This Christmas [35]
1999 Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews Reload [36]
2000 Tom Wopat and Antonia Bennett The Still of the Night [37]
2001 Suzy Bogguss and Delbert McClinton Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas [38]
2000 Holly Cole Baby, It's Cold Outside [39]
2002 Brian Setzer and Ann-Margret Boogie Woogie Christmas [40]
2002 Lee Ann Womack and Harry Connick Jr. The Season for Romance [41]
2003 Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell (Leon Redbone in the official soundtrack) Elf [42]
2004 Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey ReJoyce: The Christmas Album [43]
2004 Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton Stardust: The Great American Songbook, Volume III [44]
2004 James Taylor and Natalie Cole A Christmas Album [45]
2008 Anne Murray and Michael Bublé Anne Murray's Christmas Album [46]
2009 Lady Antebellum Country for Christmas [47]
2009 Willie Nelson and Norah Jones American Classic [48]
2009 Rick Dempsey and Deanna Bogart Home Run Holiday [49]
2010 Chris Colfer and Darren Criss Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album [50]
2011 Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams [51]
2011 She & Him A Very She & Him Christmas [52]
2011 Meaghan Smith and Buck 65 It Snowed [53][circular reference]
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]
  1. ^ Buffett and Shakoor reverse the gender-specific lyrics, with he the "Mouse" and she the "Wolf".[70]

Lyrics controversy[edit]

Since 2009,[79][80] the song has faced some criticism from feminist circles for the supposed or presumed 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 suggestive of sexual harassment or even date rape,[80][81] 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.[80][82][83]

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."[84] 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.[85][86][87]

KOIT in San Francisco, reported that about 77% of respondents opposed banning the song.[88] The CBC 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.[89]

Susan Loesser, daughter of Frank Loesser and Lynn Garland, blamed the discussion on the association with Bill Cosby after television series such as South Park and Saturday Night Live depicted the comedian performing the song following his sexual assault allegations for which he was later convicted.[90]

Muslim Brotherhood writer Sayyid Qutb objected to the song in 1948, albeit for different reasons than recent criticism, considering that it "epitomized the West's moral degradation".[91]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kinos-Goodin, Jesse (3 December 2018). "Have we hit peak cancel culture?". CBC. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b "CBC reinstates 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' amid audience reaction". December 11, 2018. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  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. 26 October 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 (19 December 2011). "Ray Charles and Betty Carter, "Baby, It's Cold Outside"". American Songwriter. Retrieved 20 February 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 30 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Esther Williams (2), Ricardo Montalban – Baby, It's Cold Outside/My Heart Beats Faster". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  15. ^ Campbell, Al. "Satchmo at Pasadena". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  16. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Eddie Fisher Sings Academy Award Winning Songs". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Boy Meets Girl: Sammy Davis, Jr. and Carmen McRae". Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  18. ^ "'Baby, It's Cold Outside': You choose the best version". Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  19. ^ "Soundsville". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
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  21. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "A Winter Romance". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  22. ^ Ginell, Richard S. "Ray Charles & Betty Carter". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  23. ^ "Sacha Distel – From Paris With Love". Discogs. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  24. ^ "Beauty and the Beard". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  25. ^ Denning, Mark. "That Holiday Feeling!". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  26. ^ Adams, Greg. "The Academy Award Songs". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  27. ^ Ginell, Richard S. "Jimmy & Wes: The Dynamic Duo". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  28. ^ "Ted Heath Orchestra, The – Those Were The Days". Discogs. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  29. ^ "Rod McKuen & Liesbeth List – Baby It's Cold Outside (Vinyl)". Discogs. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  30. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Because It's Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  31. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "For the Boys". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  32. ^ Batdorf, Rodney. "Just in Time for Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  33. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Jazz to the World". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  34. ^ Haney, Shawn M. "Star Bright". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  35. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "This Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  36. ^ Wolff, Carlo. "Reload". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  37. ^ Widran, Jonathan. "The Still of the Night". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  38. ^ "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  39. ^ "Baby, It's Cold Outside". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  40. ^ Horowitz, Hal. "Boogie Woogie Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  41. ^ Widran, Jonathan. "The Season for Romance". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  42. ^ Phares, Heather. "Elf". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  43. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "ReJoyce: The Christmas Album". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  44. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Stardust: The Great American Songbook, Vol. 3". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  45. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "A Christmas Album". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  46. ^ Sterling, Todd. "Anne Murray's Christmas Album". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  47. ^ "Baby, It's Cold Outside". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  48. ^ Roach, Pemberton. "American Classic". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  49. ^ Home Run Holiday at AllMusic
  50. ^ "Hot 100: Week of December 25, 2010". Billboard. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  51. ^ Gunter, Barrie (July 24, 2014). "I Want to Change My Life: Can Reality TV Competition Shows Trigger Lasting Career Success?". Cambridge Scholars Publishing – via Google Books.
  52. ^ Monger, James Christopher. "A Very She & Him Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  53. ^ It Snowed
  54. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Christmas in the Sand". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  55. ^ Goble, Corban. "Holidays Rule". Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  56. ^ Leggett, Steve. "A Rita Coolidge Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  57. ^ Kellman, Andy. "CeeLo's Magic Moment". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  58. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Release Me". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  59. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Wrapped in Red". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 September 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 20 February 2018.
  64. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Christmas with Nashville". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  65. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Holiday for Swing!". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  66. ^ "Adult Contemporary". Billboard. December 20, 2014. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  67. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Home for the Holidays". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  68. ^ "Chart Search Virginia to Vegas". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  69. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Christmas Together". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  70. ^ "A Point of View", audio by Adam Gopnik, BBC Radio 4, December 2016
  71. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "'Tis the SeaSon". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  72. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Glow". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  73. ^ "Friends for Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  74. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Tennessee Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  75. ^ "Christmas After Midnight". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  76. ^ Donelson, Marcy. "Pitch Perfect 3 [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  77. ^
  78. ^ "An Aaron Watson Family Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  79. ^ "Top Five Date Rape Anthems" by Amanda Hess, Washington City Paper, May 18, 2009
  80. ^ a b c 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.
  81. ^ Carlton, Jim (December 12, 2018). "'Baby, It's Cold Outside' Heats Up Culture Wars". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  82. ^ "Listening While Feminist: In Defense of 'Baby, It's Cold Outside'". Persophone Magazine. December 6, 2010.
  83. ^ "The 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' fight is back — but why?!". Salon. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  84. ^ "#MeToo movement causes Cleveland radio station to stop playing 'Baby It's Cold Outside'". NBC4i. NBC4. Nov 30, 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  85. ^ "Radio station pulls Baby, It's Cold Outside from airwaves, sparks internet firestorm". CBC Radio. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  86. ^ "Radio Station Removes 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' From Rotation During #MeToo Peak". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  87. ^ "Is Baby It's Cold Outside an ode to rape that deserves its sudden banishment from Canadian radio?". National Post. 2018-12-04. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  88. ^ "Radio station returns 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' to playlist after 'overwhelming' poll results". CBS News. December 11, 2018. Retrieved 2019-01-01.
  89. ^ "Despite #MeToo Backlash, Dean Martin's 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' Hits Top 10 on Digital Song Sales Chart". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  90. ^ "Daughter of 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' writer Frank Loesser blames Bill Cosby for recent radio bans". NBC News. 2018-12-06. Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  91. ^ Mukasey, Michael B. (2018-12-17). "Opinion – The Jihad Against 'Baby, It's Cold Outside'". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2019-01-25. (Subscription required (help)).

External links[edit]