Originally posted Monday, December 3, 2018 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
A Cleveland radio station recently announced it had “banned” the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” after polling its listeners. This caused a lot of hand-wringing from social media critics who see this as yet another example of political correctness run amuck.
The classic song written by Frank Loeser in 1944 features a man trying to convince a woman to stay at his house for the night because it’s “cold outside.” It was intended as an innocuous flirty song and was perceived that way for decades.
But more recently, it has been viewed as, well, “date rapey.” The lyric where the woman says “What's in this drink?" evoked the idea that the man was trying to “cloud” her judgment in some way before they shared a bed.
While the Entercom-owned Cleveland radio station Star 102.1 story garnered publicity nationwide, the reality is many radio stations have quietly dropped the song in recent years. Former Star 94.1 program director Tony Lorino noted on Facebook that a station he worked at many years ago removed the song without making a fuss.
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“We just knew it was the right thing to do for the audience we served,” Lorino wrote. “We never got complaints for not playing it, either; we had plenty of other great Christmas songs to play, after all.”
Denver-based radio consultant Jon Holiday (yes, that’s his actual name) said his company has a syndicated 24/7 Christmas station that plays multiple versions of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and he has not heard a single complaint. But he is aware of the backlash and is pondering whether to keep them on the playlist.
“The song takes on a different meaning in the #MeToo movement,” Holiday said.
The song has lost some favor this year versus last year.
Three versions of the song made the top 100 most played holiday songs on radio stations during the 2017 Christmas season nationwide, according to Mediabase 24/7, which tracks national airplay.
A 2016 version featuring country artist Brett Eldredge and pop singer Meghan Trainor ranked 57. A 2014 take by Idina Menzel and Michael Buble finished at No. 74. A 2013 version with Dean Martin and Martina McBride in which McBride inserted herself into Martin’s original rendition came in at No. 81. (The original 1959 Martin recording landed at No. 293.)
So far this year, not a single version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is among the 100 most played holiday songs. All three of the versions that were in the top 100 in 2017 have fallen below that threshold so far this year.
In Atlanta, Fish 104.7 - which has played all Christmas for the past 17 years during this time of year, has never played that song in any form. Mike Blakemore, program director, said they have tested the song with the listeners in the past but it never garnered enough support to merit inclusion.
Two other Atlanta stations so far have spun the tune this year, according to Mediabase 24/7. B98.5, which is currently playing five Christmas cuts an hour, spins the Eldredge/Trainor version about once a day. Kicks 101.5 has played the Lady Antebellum cover of “Baby, It’d Cold Outside” twice the past week but it appears to have been during its evening and night-time syndicated programming, not its regular daytime playlist.
If anything, as artists continue to record Christmas albums in the future, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” will likely drop off the repertoire of possible cover tunes to select.
Even before the #MeToo movement, there were a batch of sketch comedy parodies of the song, none flattering.
“Key and Peele” did this one called “Just Stay the Night” where the woman ends up torturing the dude:
Here’s Funny or Die’s version from 2015, which gets super dark and ends with “This is a completely inappropriate song.”
And that same year, “Saturday Night Live” mocked the song using Kenan Thompson as Bill Cosby.
This couple revised the lyrics to make it 2018 appropriate although it’s clear based on feedback, most people just mocked it: