Baby, It's Cold Outside
"Baby, It's Cold Outside" is a song written by Frank Loesser in 1944. It is a call and response duet in which one of the singers (usually performed by a male voice) attempts to convince a guest (usually performed by a female voice) that they should stay together for a romantic evening because the weather is cold and the trip home would be difficult.
Originally recorded for the film Neptune's Daughter, it has been recorded by many artists since its original release.
Although some critical analyses of the song have highlighted parts of the lyrics such as "What's in this drink?" and his unrelenting pressure to stay despite her repeated suggestions that she should to go home, more in depth analysis has noted that cultural expectations of the time period were such that women were not socially permitted to spend the night with a boyfriend or fiance, and that the female speaker states that she wants to say, 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; the song is therefore a collusion by two willing lovers to engage in a romantic liaison, using the pretext "it's cold outside" as a shield against the social stigma of the time period against women making their own decisions about their sexuality.
Loesser wrote the duet in 1944 and premiered the song with his wife, Lynn Garland, at their Navarro Hotel in New York housewarming party, and performed it toward the end of the evening, signifying to guests that it was nearly time to end the party. Frank would introduce himself as the "Evil of Two Loessers", a play on the theme of the song, trying to keep the girl from leaving, and on the phrase "lesser of two evils". This was a period when the Hollywood elite's chief entertainment was throwing parties and inviting guests who were expected to perform. 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." Garland considered it their song and was furious when Loesser told her he was selling the song. Garland wrote, "I felt as betrayed as if I'd caught him in bed with another woman." He sold it to MGM.
The lyrics in this duet are designed to be heard as a conversation between two people, identified as "mouse" and "wolf" on the printed score; they have returned to the wolf's home after a date, 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 wants to stay and enjoy herself, but feels obligated to return home, worried what family and neighbors will think if she stays. 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.
In 1948, after years of informally performing the song at various parties, Loesser sold its rights to MGM, which inserted the song into its 1949 motion picture, Neptune's Daughter. The film featured two performances of the song: one by Ricardo Montalbán and Esther Williams and the other by Red Skelton and Betty Garrett, the second of which has the roles of wolf and mouse reversed. These performances earned Loesser an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
In at least one published version the tempo of the song is given as "Loesserando", a humorous reference to the composer's name.
The following versions were recorded in 1949:
- The recording by Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark was recorded on March 17 and released by Columbia Records as catalog number 38463. It first reached the Billboard Best Seller chart on May 6, 1949, and lasted 19 weeks on the chart, peaking at number four.
- The recording by Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer was recorded on March 18 and released by Capitol Records as catalog number 567. It first reached the Billboard Best Seller chart on May 6, 1949, and lasted 19 weeks on the chart, peaking at number four.
- The recording by Don Cornell and Laura Leslie with the Sammy Kaye orchestra was recorded on April 12 and released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-3448. It first reached the Billboard Best Seller chart on June 24, 1949, and lasted 10 weeks on the chart, peaking at number 13.
- The recording by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan was recorded on April 28 and released by Decca Records as catalog number 24644. It first reached the Billboard Best Seller chart on June 17, 1949, and lasted seven weeks on the chart, peaking at number 17.
- A parody recording was made by Homer and Jethro with June Carter; it went to number 9 on the country charts and number 22 on the pop charts.
Other notable recordings
"Baby, It's Cold Outside" has been recorded by numerous other artists over the years. At least five different versions of the song have made at least one singles chart in the United States.
- 1961: Ray Charles & Betty Carter on their self-titled album (peaked at No. 91 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in March 1962)
- 2003: Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone on the movie soundtrack for Elf
- 2004: Rod Stewart with Dolly Parton on his album Stardust: The Great American Songbook, Volume III (No. 2 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart)
- 2007: Martina McBride recorded an overdubbed duet with Dean Martin (from his original version recorded in 1959), and the song was added to her third re-release of her album White Christmas (No. 36 on the Hot Country Songs chart)
- 2008: Lady Antebellum with a promotional single (No. 1 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100)
- 2009: Willie Nelson with Norah Jones on his album American Classic (No. 55 on the Hot Country Songs chart)
- 2010: Chris Colfer and Darren Criss performed it on the TV show Glee in the episode "A Very Glee Christmas"; released the month before on Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album, and although not released as a single, it charted at No. 57 on the Billboard Hot 100, after the episode aired
- 2011: Folk/indie rock band She and Him on their first Christmas album (and third studio album) A Very She & Him Christmas
- 2014: Canadian pop artists Virginia to Vegas and Alyssa Reid with a single, charting at no. 5 on the Canadian Hot 100
- 2014: Seth MacFarlane and Sara Bareilles on MacFarlane's album Holiday for Swing (No. 10 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart)
- 2014: Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé on Menzel's album Holiday Wishes (No. 78 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, spending three weeks on top
- 2014: Darius Rucker and Sheryl Crow on Rucker's album Home for the Holidays (No. 13 on the Adult Contemporary chart)
- List of number-one adult contemporary singles of 2014 (U.S.)
- List of number-one adult contemporary singles of 2015 (U.S.)
- The Power of Nightmares Part 1: "Baby it's cold outside"
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- 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.
- Riis, Thomas Laurence (January 1, 2008). Frank Loesser. Yale University Press. pp. 71–73. ISBN 0300110510.
- Michael Feinstein (2010-06-29). "Comment made by Michael Feinstein during Fresh Air Celebrates Frank Loesser's 100th Birthday interview". Wbur.org. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
- Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940–1955. Record Research.
- "Hot 100: Week of December 25, 2010 (Biggest Jump)". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Archived from the original on July 9, 2014. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
- "Chart Search Virginia to Vegas". Billboard. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
- "Adult Contemporary". Billboard. December 20, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2014.