Baby, It's Cold Outside

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"Baby, It's Cold Outside"
Written 1944
Songwriter(s) Frank Loesser

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" is a song written by Frank Loesser in 1944. It is a call and response duet in which a host, usually performed by a male voice, tries to convince a guest, usually performed by a female voice, that she should stay the evening because the weather is cold and the trip home would be difficult.

Loesser wrote the song for him and his wife to perform at parties. He sold the song to MGM, which used it for the 1949 film Neptune's Daughter. It was sung by Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban and won the Academy Award. Since 1949 it has been covered by many singers, including Ray Charles, Michael Bublé, and Dolly Parton.


During the 1940s, when Hollywood celebrities attended parties, they were expected to perform. In 1944, Frank Loesser wrote "Baby, It's Cold Outside" for him and his wife, Lynn Garland, to sing at a housewarming party in New York City at the Navarro Hotel. They sang the song to indicate to guests that it was time to leave. Loesser often introduced himself as the "evil of two Loessers" because of the role he played in the song.[1]

Garland wrote that after the first performance, "We become 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." In 1948, after years of performing the song, Loesser sold it to MGM for the 1949 romantic comedy Neptune's Daughter. Garland was furious. She wrote, "I felt as betrayed as if I'd caught him in bed with another woman."[1]

In the film, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" was sung by Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalbán, then by Betty Garrett and Red Skelton, who reversed the roles. The song won the Academy Award.[2][3]


The lyrics in this duet are designed to be heard as a conversation between two people, identified as "mouse" (usually female) and "wolf" (usually male) on the printed score; they are at the wolf's home and the mouse decides it is time to go home, but the wolf flirtatiously invites the mouse to stay as it is late and "it's cold outside." The mouse states that he/she has enjoyed the time and agrees at one point to another drink, but the mouse also says "the answer is no" and tries to return home, worried what family and neighbors will think.[4] Every line in the song features a statement from the mouse followed by a response from the wolf, which is musically known as a call and response song.

Although some critical analyses of the song have highlighted parts of the lyrics such as "What's in this drink?" and the wolf's unrelenting pressure to stay despite the mouse's repeated suggestions that she should go home,[5] others noted that cultural expectations of the time period were such that women were not socially permitted to spend the night with a boyfriend or fiancé, and that the mouse 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.[5][6]

In at least one published version the tempo of the song is given as "Loesserando", a humorous reference to the composer's name.[7]

1949 recordings[edit]

  • The version by Lynn Garland and Frank Loesser (credited as Lynn & Frank Loesser) was released by Mercury Records.[8]
  • The version by Don Cornell and Laura Leslie with the Sammy Kaye orchestra was recorded on April 12 and released by RCA Victor. It reached the Billboard Best Seller chart on June 24, 1949, and lasted 10 weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 13.[9]
  • The version by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan was recorded on April 28 and released by Decca Records. It reached the Billboard Best Seller chart on June 17, 1949, and lasted seven weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 17.[9]

Other recordings[edit]

  • 2013: Martina McBride recorded an overdubbed duet with Dean Martin with his version from 1959. McBride's version appears on The Classic Christmas Album (2013).[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 134. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  3. ^ a b Inman, Davis (19 December 2011). "Ray Charles and Betty Carter, "Baby, It's Cold Outside"". American Songwriter. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  4. ^ Riis, Thomas Laurence (January 1, 2008). Frank Loesser. Yale University Press. pp. 71–73. ISBN 0300110510. 
  5. ^ a b Marya Hannun (December 19, 2014). "'Baby It's Cold Outside' was once an anthem for progressive women. What happened?". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 14, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Listening While Feminist: In Defense of 'Baby, It's Cold Outside'". Persophone Magazine. December 6, 2010. 
  7. ^ Feinstein, Michael (June 29, 2010). "Comment made by Michael Feinstein during Fresh Air Celebrates Frank Loesser's 100th Birthday interview". Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  8. ^ Loesser, Lynn & Loesser, Frank (December 16, 2017). "Baby It's Cold Outside". Retrieved December 16, 2017 – via Internet Archive. 
  9. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940–1955. Record Research. 
  10. ^ "Boy Meets Girl: Sammy Davis, Jr. and Carmen McRae". Retrieved December 16, 2017. 
  11. ^ "'Baby, It's Cold Outside': You choose the best version". Retrieved December 16, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Soundsville". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  13. ^ Ginell, Richard S. "Ray Charles & Betty Carter". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  14. ^ Bush, John. "Personalities". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  15. ^ Wolff, Carlo. "Reload". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  16. ^ Horowitz, Hal. "Boogie Woogie Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  17. ^ Phares, Heather. "Elf". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  18. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Stardust: The Great American Songbook, Vol. 3". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  19. ^ "Baby, It's Cold Outside". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  20. ^ Roach, Pemberton. "American Classic". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  21. ^ "Hot 100: Week of December 25, 2010". Billboard. Archived from the original on July 9, 2014. Retrieved December 16, 2010. 
  22. ^ Monger, James Christopher. "A Very She & Him Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  23. ^ 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. 
  24. ^ "Watch Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett Sing Gorgeous 'Baby It's Cold Outside' Duet in New Commercial". Billboard. Retrieved August 29, 2017. 
  25. ^ McGlynn, Katla (December 22, 2013). "Their Version Of 'Baby It's Cold Outside' Is So Much Better". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 4, 2017. 
  26. ^ "Jimmy Fallon's 'Baby It's Cold Outside' SNL Duet Has Hilariously Cold Modern Twist". Mediaite. Retrieved January 4, 2017. 
  27. ^ Leggett, Steve. "The Classic Christmas Album". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  28. ^ "Chart Search Virginia to Vegas". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2015. 
  29. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Holiday for Swing!". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  30. ^ "Adult Contemporary". Billboard. December 20, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2014. 
  31. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Home for the Holidays". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  32. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Glow". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 

External links[edit]