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Radio station pulls Baby, It's Cold Outside from airwaves, sparks internet firestorm

In the holiday classic, the woman says she wants to go home but the man pressures her to stay

In the holiday classic, the woman says she wants to go home but the man pressures her to stay

Baby, It's Cold Outside has been performed by celebs from Ray Charles to Michael Bublé, but now a U.S. radio station has pulled it from the airwaves. (MGM/YouTube)

For decades it's been one of Christmastime's biggest hits — a track that contrasts the icy outdoors with the cozy warmth inside, and hints at holiday romance. 

But now a U.S. radio station has pulled Baby, It's Cold Outside from the airwaves, and the move has kicked off an internet firestorm.

Cleveland's Star 102 (WDOK-FM), which bills itself as the city's "official Christmas music station," says the song, in which a woman is pressured to stay overnight at a man's house even after she says she needs to leave, is no longer appropriate — especially in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Others express concern that the line "Say, what's in this drink?" implies the woman's drink has been spiked.

"We used to play the song Baby, It's Cold Outside, but you're the Christmas Executive Officer at Star 102 and you told us it's no longer appropriate. I gotta be honest, I didn't understand why the lyrics were so bad... until I read them," wrote host Glenn Anderson on the Star 102 website.

"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."  

I ought to say no, no, no - Mind if I move in closer? / At least I'm gonna say that I tried - What's the sense in hurting my pride? / I really can't stay - Baby don't hold out / Ah, but it's cold outside- Lyrics from Baby, It's Cold Outside

Then on December 4, several major Canadian broadcasters announced they would also pull the song, among them Bell Media, Rogers and CBC.

"CBC Music will be pulling the song from its rotation as of midnight and has no plans to play it going forward," said CBC public affairs head Chuck Thompson.

Frank Loesser first penned the track in 1944 for him to perform at parties with his wife, and later sold it to MGM, who used it in the classic 1949 movie Neptune's Daughter. In the film, Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalbán famously perform the song, which went on to win an Academy Award. (See video above.)

The call-and-response duet has since been covered countless times, including by Ray Charles and Betty Carter, Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé (also Anne Murray and Michael Bublé), Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton, Lou Rawls and Dianne Reeves, Dean Martin and Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum, Holly Cole and many more.

Since the station made the announcement that it would pull the song, the internet as been alight with comments, with some people applauding the move because they see the song as promoting date rape, while others argue that it's political correctness gone too far, and that the tune is about innocent flirtation and romance.

Still others argue that in the song, the woman is conflicted but ultimately makes her own choice to stay, which is her prerogative.

Below you will find the Baby, It's Cold Outside lyrics in full. So what do you think? Should the song get the cold shoulder? Or remain a holiday classic? Let us know in the comments.

I really can't stay - Baby it's cold outside
I've got to go away - Baby it's cold outside
This evening has been - Been hoping that you'd drop in
So very nice - I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice

My mother will start to worry - Beautiful, what's your hurry?
Father will be pacing the floor - Listen to the fireplace roar
So really I'd better scurry - Beautiful, please don't hurry
Maybe just a half a drink more - Put some records on while I pour

The neighbors might think - Baby, it's bad out there
Say, what's in this drink? - No cabs to be had out there
I wish I knew how - Your eyes are like starlight now
To break this spell - I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell

I ought to say no, no, no - Mind if I move in closer?
At least I'm gonna say that I tried - What's the sense in hurting my pride?
I really can't stay - Baby don't hold out
Ah, but it's cold outside

I've got to get home - Oh, baby, you'll freeze out there
Say, lend me your coat - It's up to your knees out there
You've really been grand - Thrill when you touch my hand
Why don't you see - How can you do this thing to me?

There's bound to be talk tomorrow - Think of my life long sorrow
At least there will be plenty implied - If you caught pneumonia and died
I really can't stay - Get over that hold out
Ah, but it's cold outside

Also in 2016, songwriters Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski came up with a novel compromise: they kept the tune, but revised the lyrics to emphasize consent — without losing the romance. They just recorded it for fun, but it ended up going viral. Check it out:

About the Author

Jennifer Van Evra

Jennifer Van Evra is a Vancouver-based journalist and digital producer for q. She can be found on Twitter @jvanevra or email jennifer.vanevra@cbc.ca.

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