Thursday 17 January 2019

'Baby, It's Cold Outside' dropped from radio over 'date rape' lyrics

Christmas classic removed by station over reference perceived as out of step with the #MeToo movement

Season’s greetings: Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan promoting ‘Fairytale of New York’ in 1987. Photo: Tim Roney/Getty
Season’s greetings: Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan promoting ‘Fairytale of New York’ in 1987. Photo: Tim Roney/Getty
Sorcha O'Connor

Sorcha O'Connor

It may have featured in one of the most popular festive films, 'Elf', but Christmas classic 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' has itself been left out in the cold by a number of radio stations.

A station in Cleveland, Ohio, in the US hit the headlines at the weekend when it emerged it had removed the iconic song, written by Frank Loesser in 1944, from its playlist.

The song, traditionally sung in a duet, has been performed by stars such as Michael Bublé, Lady Gaga, and Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews.

However, the station believed the song was out of step with the #MeToo movement due to the persuasive lyrics sung to the woman who is trying to go home after spending time with the man in the song.

The decision appeared to be at odds with the station's listeners. A poll on its Facebook page saw 94pc of listeners vote to keep the song during the festive season.

Critics have suggested that the line, "Say, what's in this drink?" is a reference to date rape.

In Ireland, the decision was made last year by Christmas FM to drop the song from its catalogue of festive tunes. Co-founder of the station Garvan Rigby told the Irish Independent yesterday the song was never popular with listeners and he didn't think anyone noticed it had been dropped last Christmas either.

"We actually drop songs every year. The main reason for dropping it was popularity. When you look at songs like ones from Mariah Carey and Wham!, they are the big songs. As far as I know, no one has ever texted in looking for it, while there are certain songs that people text in all the time looking for," he said.

However, Mr Rigby did acknowledge that it had been suggested to the station that the lyrics were "of a different era" and might offend listeners.

"One or two people mentioned that the lyrics might not be suitable. Popularity was one of the main reasons but obviously the lyrics were of a different era," he said.

He did not see the move as a big deal however, saying they added 10 new songs last year, including Christmas numbers from Westlife star Mark Feehily and American pop star Gwen Stefani.

It's not the first time a Christmas song has been questioned on moral grounds.

Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl's 'Fairytale of New York' was censored by the BBC in 2007.

The broadcaster reasoned that the line, "You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot" might offend gay people and removed the word when it was being played on Radio One.

It also faded out the word "slut" in the song - the first time since the slur-ridden song's release in 1987 such a decision was made.

However, when a majority of listeners disagreed with the ban, it was hastily lifted.

Tom Jones fans, you know what to do...

Irish Independent

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