As radio stations decide whether to remove "Baby, it's Cold Outside" from their Christmas playlists, the daughter of the song's composer has defended the tune

By Jordan Runtagh
December 11, 2018 05:00 PM
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“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” continues to be a lightning rod for controversy this holiday season. As radio stations across the country decide whether to remove the title from their Christmas playlists due to what some feel are sexist lyrics, the daughter of the song’s composer has defended the tune amid the furor.

“Bill Cosby ruined it for everybody,” Susan Loesser, the 74-year-old daughter of Broadway great Frank Loesser, told NBC News on Thursday. “Way before #MeToo, I would hear from time to time people call it a date rape song. I would get annoyed because it’s a song my father wrote for him and my mother to sing at parties. But ever since Cosby was accused of drugging women, I hear the date rape thing all the time.”

USA Today observed that Saturday Night Live first connected the song with Cosby in a 2015 episode that aired after the comedian was accused by 60 women of drugging and assaulting them. The sketch shows Kenan Thompson as Cosby singing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with a woman on a couch.

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was first penned by Frank Loesser in 1944 as a duet for him to sing with his wife at parties. It’s gone on to become an enduring holiday classic, sung by everyone from Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart, to Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel, to Chris Colfer and Darren Criss on an episode of Glee.

But in recent years the lyrics have raised eyebrows with lines like, “Say, what’s in this drink?” and a back-and-forth where a man tries to convince a woman to stay the night despite her continued protests — “I really can’t,” and “The answer is no.”

At the end last month, WDOK Christmas 102.1 in Cleveland, Ohio pulled the song from its 24-hour Christmas rotation because of listener complaints, according to local Fox 8 news. The station allegedly received a call complaining about the song. After a listener poll on the WDOK website supported this sentiment, station programmers decided to ban it. Several other networks followed suit, though some — namely San Francisco’s KOIT — have since reinstated it.

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Though he died in 1969, Susan Loesser believes her father would be “furious” that some stations banned the song. “People used to say, ‘What’s in this drink?’ as a joke. You know, ‘This drink is going straight to my head so what’s in this drink?’ Back then it didn’t mean you drugged me … Absolutely I get it. But I think it would be good if people looked at the song in the context of the time. It was written in 1944.”