Baby, It's Cold Outside

"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.

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

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

Other recordings

1951Louis Armstrong and Velma MiddletonSatchmo at Pasadena[15]
1955Eddie Fisher and June HuttonEddie Fisher Sings Academy Award Winning Songs[16]
1957Sammy Davis Jr. and Carmen McRaeBoy Meets Girl[17][18]
1959Jack Marshall (instrumental)Soundsville![19]
1959Dean Martin and female chorus[20]A Winter Romance[21]
1961Ray Charles and Betty CarterRay Charles and Betty Carter[22]
1961Sacha Distel and unidentified femaleFrom Paris with Love[23]
1964Al Hirt and Ann-MargretBeauty and the Beard[24]
1964Steve Lawrence and Eydie GormeThat Holiday Feeling![25]
1966Ted Heath and Edmundo Ros (instrumental)Heath vs. Ros: Round 2[26]
1966Henry Mancini, female and male choirsThe Academy Award Songs[27]
1966Nina & Frederik[28]
1966Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery (instrumental)Jimmy & Wes: The Dynamic Duo[29]
1972Rod McKuen and Liesbeth List[30]
1990Barry Manilow and K. T. OslinBecause It's Christmas[31]
1991Bette Midler and James CaanFor the Boys[32]
1994Nancy LaMott and Michael FeinsteinJust in Time for Christmas[33]
1995Lou Rawls and Dianne ReevesJazz to the World[34]
1996Vanessa Williams and Bobby CaldwellStar Bright[35]
1998Ann Hampton Callaway and Kenny RankinThis Christmas[36]
1999Tom Jones and Cerys MatthewsReload[37]
2000Tom Wopat and Antonia BennettThe Still of the Night[38]
2001Suzy Bogguss and Delbert McClintonHave Yourself a Merry Little Christmas[39]
2000Holly ColeBaby, It's Cold Outside[40]
2002Brian Setzer and Ann-MargretBoogie Woogie Christmas[41]
2002Lee Ann Womack and Harry Connick Jr.The Season for Romance[42]
2003Zooey Deschanel and Leon RedboneElf[43]
2004Jessica Simpson and Nick LacheyReJoyce: The Christmas Album[44]
2004Rod Stewart and Dolly PartonStardust: The Great American Songbook, Volume III[45]
2004James Taylor and Natalie ColeA Christmas Album[46]
2008Anne Murray and Michael BubléAnne Murray's Christmas Album[47]
2009Lady AntebellumCountry for Christmas[48]
2009Willie Nelson and Norah JonesAmerican Classic[49]
2009Rick Dempsey and Deanna BogartHome Run Holiday[50]
2010Chris Colfer and Darren CrissGlee: The Music, The Christmas Album[51]
2011Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams[52]
2011She & HimA Very She & Him Christmas[53]
2012Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGrawChristmas in the Sand[54]
2012Rufus Wainwright and Sharon Van EttenHolidays Rule[55]
2012Rita CoolidgeA Rita Coolidge Christmas[56]
2012Cee Lo Green and Christina AguileraCee Lo's Magic Moment[57]
2012Lyle Lovett and Kat EdmonsonRelease Me[58]
2013Kelly Clarkson and Ronnie DunnWrapped in Red[59]
2013Jimmy Fallon and Cecily StrongSaturday Night Live[60][61]
2013Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon-LevittLady Gaga and the Muppets Holiday Spectacular[62]
2013Martina McBride and Dean MartinThe Classic Christmas Album[63]
2014Connie Britton and Will ChaseChristmas with Nashville[64]
2014Seth MacFarlane and Sara BareillesHoliday for Swing[65]
2014Idina Menzel and Michael BubléHoliday Wishes[66]
2014Darius Rucker and Sheryl CrowHome for the Holidays[67]
2014Virginia to Vegas and Alyssa Reid[68]
2016Garth Brooks and Trisha YearwoodChristmas Together[69]
2016Jimmy Buffett and Nadirah Shakoor[lower-alpha 1]'Tis the SeaSon[71]
2016Brett Eldredge and Meghan TrainorGlow[72]
2016John Farnham and Olivia Newton-JohnFriends for Christmas[73]
2016Amy Grant and Vince GillTennessee Christmas[74]
2017Fantasia and CeeLo GreenChristmas After Midnight[75]
2017Kelley Jakle and Shelley RegnerPitch Perfect 3[76]
2017Avril Lavigne and Jonny Blu[77]
2018Aaron WatsonAn Aaron Watson Family Christmas[78]
2019The BoysChristmas with the Boys[79]
2019Disco PiratesIt’s Cold Outside (Don’t Go)[80]
2019John Legend and Kelly ClarksonA Legendary Christmas: Deluxe Edition[81]
2019Scott Matthew and SiaSilent Nights[82]
  1. Buffett and Shakoor reverse the gender-specific lyrics, with he the "Mouse" and she the "Wolf".[70]

Lyrics controversy

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


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  2. "CBC reinstates 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' amid audience reaction". December 11, 2018. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  3. 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. Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940–1955. Record Research.
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  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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  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.
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  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.
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  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.
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  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.
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  56. Leggett, Steve. "A Rita Coolidge Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
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  58. Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Release Me". AllMusic. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
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  62. "Watch Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett Sing Gorgeous 'Baby It's Cold Outside' Duet in New Commercial". Billboard. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
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  64. Jurek, Thom. "Christmas with Nashville". AllMusic. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
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  73. "Friends for Christmas". AllMusic. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
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