For decades, "Baby, It's Cold Outside," the duet originally sung in the 1949 film Neptune's Daughter, has endured as one of the most beloved Christmas songs. Iconic musicians like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan, Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart, and Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel have all recorded versions of the song together. Chris Colfer and Darren Criss sing the tune to each other on an episode of Glee, and Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel belt it out in Elf. But in recent years, the catchy holiday song has left fans feeling more and more uncomfortable due to its suggestive lyrics, which have led many to wonder if they describe an instance of date rape.
Because of the potentially sinister meaning behind the lyrics, a Cleveland radio station has decided "Baby, It's Cold Outside" really can't stay — on the air, at least. WDOK Christmas 102.1 has pulled the song from its 24-hour Christmas rotation, explaining that listener complaints led them to yank it from their holiday line-up for good, according to local Fox 8 news.
The song was first penned by Guys and Dolls' Frank Loesser, who wrote it as a duet for him and his wife to sing at parties. The song was later sold to MGM to be used in Neptune's Daughter, in a scene where a male character is trying to keep a woman from leaving. "My answer is no," she says, before he responds that she can't possibly leave because of the heavy snow. "What's the sense of hurting my pride?" he asks as she tries to leave again, before she eventually exclaims, "Say, what's in this drink?" It's that line, especially, that has made people question if the man in the scenario has slipped her something stronger than just alcohol.
Ever since its appearance in the 2003 holiday film Elf, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" plays nonstop around Christmas. One of those plays resulted in a listener calling into WDOK to complain that it's inappropriate. The radio station subsequently put a listener poll on their website to see if more people agreed, and finally decided to ban the song from playing altogether.
"People might say, 'Oh, enough with that #MeToo,' but if you really put that aside and listen to the lyrics, it's not something I would want my daughter to be in that kind of a situation," radio host Desiray told Cleveland's Fox 8. "The tune might be catchy, but let's maybe not promote that sort of an idea."
One of the radio's other employees, Glenn Anderson, penned a blog post explaining their decision even further. "I gotta be honest, I didn't understand why the lyrics were so bad . . . Until I read them," he said. "Now, I do realize that when the song was written in 1944, it was a different time, but now while reading it, it seems very manipulative and wrong. The world we live in is extra sensitive now, and people get easily offended, but in a world where #MeToo has finally given women the voice they deserve, the song has no place."