“I really can’t stay,” intones one half of the ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ duet — and it seems one Cleveland radio station agrees with the sentiment.
WDOK Christmas 102.1 in Cleveland, Ohio pulled the song from its 24-hour Christmas rotation this week, citing listener complaints, according to local Fox 8 news.
The song, first penned by Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls) in 1944 as a duet for him to sing with his wife at parties. Loesser later sold the song to MGM for use in 1949’s Neptune’s Daughter, in which the song plays seriously between Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban, and gender-swapped for humor between Betty Garrett and Red Skelton. In the years since, the duet has 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.
Over the last several years, many have called the song “date-rapey” in reference to the lyrics “Say, what’s in this drink?” The song details a back-and-forth, traditionally between a man and a woman, where the man tries to convince a woman to stay the night despite her continued protests, saying, “The answer is no.”
It seems the station received a call complaining the song is inappropriate in 2018, and after a listener poll on the WDOK website supported this sentiment, they decided to ban the song from their Christmas radio play. “People might say, ‘oh, enough with that #MeToo,’ but if you really put that aside and listen to the lyrics, it’s not something I would want my daughter to be in that kind of a situation,” midday host Desiray told Cleveland’s Fox 8. “The tune might be catchy, but let’s maybe not promote that sort of an idea.”
In a blog post on the station’s website, radio host Glenn Anderson further explained the decision, writing, “I gotta be honest, I didn’t understand why the lyrics were so bad…Until I read them.” He concluded, “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. “
The song continues to be divisive in today’s cultural climate, and for WKOD, it seems the easiest thing is simply to say that when it comes to ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside,’ the answer is no.