REReader (rereader) wrote,
REReader
rereader

It really, really is.

"Baby, It's Cold Outside," by Frank Loesser, as sung by Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon-Levitt:


Video posted by Dragon Blast

New York hasn't seen temps above freezing in almost two weeks and at this point it's cold inside, too!


Alas, it is no longer possible to play this song without addressing the controversy that has arisen around it over the years because of the "wolf" and "mouse" aspects of the song, especially the "Say, what's in that drink?" lyric. And of course, if you look at the lyrics (or listen to some of the recorded duets), it certainly sounds like a man pressuring a woman to submit to sex.

First, that line, which sounds suspiciously like it's referring to a date rape drug. TODAY. The song was written in 1944, before date rape drugs were a thing that people normally thought of, and I've definitely heard that line used (mostly by men) in several movies of that period--a slangy way of saying "I didn't mean that, that's the alcohol talking," when it's very clear to everyone in the room that it is not at all the alcohol talking...and I'm not the only person who's noted that.

Also it seems to me only fair to the songwriter to bear in mind that the song was originally written by Loesser to sing with his wife at parties as a signal that things were starting to wind down, and indeed, if a couple is singing that to each other in front of you, it does suggest that it's time to clear out. His then-wife, Lynn Garland, in fact, was not in the least bit happy when he sold the song to MGM*, Oscar or no Oscar (and it did win the Oscar for Best Original Song), since it was supposed to be "theirs."

Still, it is no longer 1944, and in the normal way of things you can hardly stop everything to explain the original context before playing the song. So despite the fact that this is another one of those songs that everyone, but EVERYONE, has covered--recent pairings include Sara Bareilles and Seth McFarland, Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé (which has a video I find more than slightly creepy), and Sheryl Crow and Darius Rucker--if you are going to play it, you need to be careful with the version you choose. The one I brought here, from "Lady Gaga & The Muppet's Holiday Spectacular," I find charming. Don't they seem to be having a blast? I think that the playfulness in the video, taken together with the role reversal, helps bring the song back to the spirit in which it was meant to be heard.

***


I've spoken about Frank Loesser before, but there's more: In addition to the two Best Musical Tonys he won for Guys and Dolls and How To Succeed, he picked up another two Tony nominations (Best Musical for Most Happy Fella and Best Composer for How To Succeed), and he won a Pulitzer for How To Succeed. Neptune's Daughter, the movie in which "Baby, It's Cold Outside" appeared, was only one of the more than fifty movies he composed, wrote or co-wrote for; in addition to the Best Song Oscar he won for "Baby, It's Cold Outside, he picked up another four Oscar nominations for Best Original Song, including one for "Thumbelina" from Hans Christian Anderson, for which he wrote the score.


Video posted by Movieclips


Video posted by sawing14s

____

*pp. 79-81.

Please bring comments over to my new blog! I'd really be interested to hear what you think about this song in these #MeToo days, because I'm torn.
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