Baby It's Cold Outside is returning to Canadian airwaves

Controversial holiday standard Baby, It's Cold Outside is returning to playlists at Bell Media's radio stations starting next week. Feedback from listeners is what led to the reintroduction of the 1944 duet after it was removed from rotation last Christmas season.

The decision comes a year after some Canadian radio stations pulled the holiday classic from airwaves

Broadway composer Frank Loesser and his wife and musical partner Lynn are shown, April 26, 1956 in New York. Holiday classic Baby, It's Cold Outside is returning to playlists at Bell Media's radio stations for the holidays after a yearlong hiatus. (Anthony Camerano/The Associated Press)

Controversial holiday standard Baby, It's Cold Outside is returning to playlists at Bell Media's radio stations starting next week.

A spokesperson for the Canadian broadcaster says feedback from listeners has led the company to reintroduce the 1944 duet after yanking it out of rotation last Christmas season.

Bell was among numerous radio operators who effectively banned Baby It's Cold Outside from their airwaves following scrutiny over what some called inappropriate lyrics in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Most versions of the song feature a male performer trying to persuade a female singer to stay inside, with exchanges that include, "What's in this drink?" and "Baby, don't hold out."

The perennial favourite was originally penned by Guys and Dolls songwriter Frank Loesser to perform with his wife, Lynn Garland, at parties.

Singer and talk show host Kelly Clarkson (left) and singer John Legend have joined forces on a reimagined version of the oft-criticized Christmas classic Baby It’s Cold Outside, with new lyrics that emphasize consent. (The Associated Press)

In more recent years, critics have pointed out the dialogue between the singers comes off as the prelude to a sexual assault, particularly because the woman declines the man's advances numerous times.

Others have defended the song, saying it's a playful flirtation.

Those debates reached a crescendo last year when Cleveland radio station WDOK-FM announced it would no longer play the track in response to listener feedback.

Canadian broadcasters followed in step — Bell Media pulled recordings from its various outlets, including two 24-hour Christmas stations in Vancouver and Ottawa.

Rogers Media also removed the song from its Christmas stations around the same time. A representative for the company did not respond to questions about whether it planned to reintroduce the track this year.

Public broadcaster CBC bumped the song from its holiday streaming playlists last year only to add it back within days after an audience backlash. CBC spokeswoman Teaghan Hawke says the public broadcaster intends to keep Baby, It's Cold Outside on its playlists.

"Song lyrics are always open to interpretation and we recognize there are differing opinions pertaining to the lyrics," she wrote in an emailed statement.

"Listeners have the option to skip past the song if they fall into the camp that thinks the lyrics are inappropriate."

Hawke said CBC radio hosts will also have the option to "address the debate directly" on their programs and engage with listener feedback.

The protests around Baby, It's Cold Outside in Canada may be overblown, according to a survey conducted last year. Campaign Research found 72 per cent of respondents to a national poll disagreed with radio stations that pulled the song because some listeners found the lyrics upsetting.

Some pop artists have found ways to get around the debate entirely by making changes to the classic. A new version recorded by John Legend and Kelly Clarkson will debut this year with updated lyrics that emphasize consent.


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