Only a week after Baby, It’s Cold Outside was banned on two major radio stations in Ohio and California the song is seeing resurgent popularity on Billboard’s charts. The song appeared three times on Billboard’s Holiday Digital Song Sales Chart, which is the most for any title. In fact, the song’s recent climb represents the survey’s largest jump.
Dean Martin’s version jumped from No. 23 to No. 2 on the Holiday Digital Song Sales Chart, which is the song’s highest rank in seven years.
Martin’s version of the song jumped from No. 33 to No. 25 on the streaming version of the chart. Michael Buble and Idina Menzel’s version jumped 42 percent, and Brett Eldredge and Meghan Trainor’s version was up 36 percent in streams.
The radio stations banned the song out of fears it is inappropriate during the #MeToo era. Written in 1944 the song was orignally intended as a party-only performance between writer Frank Loesser and his wife. Loesser labeled the two vocal parts “mouse” and “wolf.” In recent years the song has been condemned as an example of the perception of when women say “no,” they mean “yes.”
Loesser, ironically, sold rights to the song after divorcing his wife. The duet was used in the 1949 film “Neptune’s Daughter,” winning the Academy Award for best original song.
The song first really became associated with Christmas when Dean Martin included it on his winter themed album in 1959 titled A Winter Romance. While the album has some Christmas music associated with it the album was not really considered a Christmas album until many years later.
The song has kicked around for decades as a holiday favorite, gaining resurgent popularity in 2004 when featured in the hit movie, Elf. Since that time the song has been covered by several leading artists including Michael Buble, Lady Gaga, Idina Menzel and others.
For whatever reason, radio station WDOK in Cleveland banned the song this holiday season.
“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,” host Glenn Anderson wrote on the station’s web site. “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.”
In San Francisco, station KOIT saw the Cleveland headlines and said, “Me Too!” and banned the song as well.
The station’s program director had no idea of the “tornado” he would face: hundreds of emails demanding the song be put back in rotation, more than ten times the number of requests he said he fielded asking him to yank it.
“People are unbelievably passionate about their Christmas music, it’s the one thing that you can’t mess with,” Figula said.
The ban of the song also showed up in Denver. KOSI in Denver has done an about-face, first banning the song on Monday, then opening up a poll to put the decision to listeners. The results were unequivocal: the vast majority of the 15,000 respondents demanded the song’s return, the station said.
“While we are sensitive to those who may be upset by some of the lyrics, the majority of our listeners have expressed their interpretation of the song to be non-offensive,” Program Director Jim Lawson.
William Shatner, promoting his own Christmas album this year, took to Twitter to defend the song.
CBC Music, a Canadian FM radio network operated by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, pulled the song from two of its holiday-music streams last week but now has restored it. When Shatner, himself a Canadian, began tweeting about the song on Tuesday, the CBC hadn’t yet restored the tune.
Shatner urged his Twitter audience to, “Call in to CBC radio all day and get them to play ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ over and over until midnight.”
Will the song continue to be a Christmas fav?
That depends on who chooses to be offended by the lyrics.