How ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ Went From Parlor Act to Problematic

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/13/arts/music/baby-its-cold-outside-history-facts.html

By Jacey Fortin
Dec. 13, 2018

Rock Hudson did it with Mae West. Ray Charles did it with Betty Carter. Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon-Levitt did it with a modern twist.

And somewhere along the line, the 74-year-old song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” became a holiday standard, in heavy radio rotation, playing overhead in department stores, and covered on Christmas albums.

“I’ve got to get home,” the woman sings in the duet. “But baby, it’s cold outside,” the man replies. “The answer is no,” she protests later. By the end they’re singing the chorus together.

Now, a long-simmering debate over the lyrics has reached a boil. The annual holiday culture wars and the reckoning over #MeToo have swirled together into a potent mix. Say — what’s in this drink?

Several radio stations have pulled “Baby” from the air. Arguments have erupted on social media, and multiple panels on Fox News and CNN have latched on to the debate.

William Shatner has emerged as a vocal champion of the song. “You must clutch your pearls over rap music,” he told one critic, urging him to listen to a 1949 classic version on YouTube.

William Shatner has emerged as a vocal champion of the song. “You must clutch your pearls over rap music,” he told one critic, urging him to listen to a 1949 classic version on YouTube.

To some modern ears, the lyrics sound like a prelude to date rape. The woman keeps protesting. “I ought to say no, no, no, sir,” she sings, and he asks to move in closer. “My sister will be suspicious,” she sings. “Gosh, your lips look delicious,” he answers. She wonders aloud what is in her drink.

“I think the song has always been creepy, but we didn’t have the words to explain why,” said Lydia Liza, 24, a singer-songwriter.

But some believe this to be a case of political correctness run amok. “Do we get to a point where human worth, warmth and romance are illegal?” the conservative commentator Tucker Carlson argued on Fox News.

Faced with protests, radio stations are doing their best to walk the line. “I gotta be honest, I didn’t understand why the lyrics were so bad,” Glenn Anderson, a radio host for Star 102 in Cleveland, wrote in a blog post last month after the station pulled the song from rotation. “Until I read them.”

“Baby” is usually sung by a man insisting and a woman resisting, but not always. In “Neptune’s Daughter,” the romantic comedy that brought the song to the silver screen — it won an Academy Award for best song in 1950 — it was performed twice, and the gender roles were reversed the second time for comedic effect.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/13/arts/music/baby-its-cold-outside-history-facts.html

 

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