Saturday, June 23, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Even post-Weinstein, 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' is extremely popular

Should the song be retired?

Yes
12%
No
82%
Not sure
7%

Total Votes: 60

Gifts are wrapped, halls are decked and people are on Twitter calling Baby, It’s Cold Outside a "sexual predator anthem." It’s a holiday tradition for the social media age.

Pointing out the creepiness of the song — or "rapeyness," to use the preferred digital vernacular — in which a man at one point sings, "Oh baby, don’t hold out" in response to a woman’s repeated attempts to leave his home, is nothing new. But its spotlight has intensified in this year of #MeToo and cultural reckoning for sexual harassment.

The annual winter flurry of critical takes has come from celebrities, plus parodies of the song’s outdated attitude toward consent from Key & Peele, Saturday Night Live and Funny or Die.

Others, like the duo She & Him, have reversed the traditional gender roles, identified as "The Mouse" and "The Wolf" in Frank Loesser’s original 1949 score.

Meanwhile, straight-faced, traditional versions of the song have remained immensely popular. Since 2014, new recordings have charted for Seth MacFarlane and Sara Bareilles, Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé, Darius Rucker and Sheryl Crow and Brett Eldredge and Meghan Trainor. (Lady Gaga has done it both ways, once with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and once with Tony Bennett.)

Critics thought the song might finally wane in the year of the "Weinstein Effect" and the "silence breakers," women who came forward to report harassment, being named Time magazine’s "Person of the Year."

That hasn’t happened.

Menzel-Bublé, Eldredge-Trainor and the 1959 version by Dean Martin currently occupy Billboard’s Holiday 100, and the song is "extremely" popular, said Chris Conley, program director for New York City’s all-Christmas music station Lite FM 106.7.

Would the station stop playing it if people complained?

"Of course," Conley said when asked. "We do a lot of research, and we play what (listeners) want to hear. I have no opinion."

Chadd Thomas, program director at Tampa’s all-Christmas B98.7 FM, said it’s still considered one of the most classic Christmas songs of all time, but that they’d certainly monitor local and national feedback to determine what happens in the future.

Freshmen girls were scheduled to perform it at Durant High School’s holiday concert in Plant City, choral director Susan Durham said.

"They like the song because of the movie Elf, and they ask to do it," Durham said of her students. "I suppose if you’re trying to look at it that way, you can make something out of it, but we don’t get into that. I’ve never had a parent or anyone call and say, ‘Don’t do that.’?"

Ann Adair, choral director at Countryside High School in Clearwater, said no when her students brought it up.

"This comes up every year for choir directors and people involved in performing music. We all talk about it," Adair said. "I just personally don’t think I could have students sing ‘What’s in this drink?’ It’s an old song, but in 2017, it sounds like a total Bill Cosby moment. It seems inappropriate."

Mark Weiser from Shake Rattle & Roll Pianos, which provides musical entertainment for events across the United States, said the company didn’t make its performers stop playing the song, but suggested they might "maybe for this year" voluntarily leave it out.

It came up among some performers recently while riding in a van on the way to a gig in Winter Haven, said Jeremy James from the Orlando-based Caroling Company, which employs around 100 singers for holiday events all over Florida.

"It’s very generational," James said. "The women who are our younger singers seemed to be the ones who consider it rapey. They definitely talk about it."

Patricia Fennell, a New York singer who also is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked with sex offenders and victims, recently produced and sang on a version with jazz musician Chris Pasin that swaps the gender roles.

"That song has creeped me out for years. In my career, I’ve had a lot of experiences very much like what’s happening in the tune," she said. "People’s reactions to the way we recorded it are fascinating. It actually makes them very uncomfortable to hear a woman be so aggressive."

Not everyone thinks the song has bad intentions. Singers Natalie Cordone and Shawn Kilgore have sung it with the Orlando Philharmonic.

"It’s cute and coy as opposed to creepy," Cordone said. "I think it’s really important you look at any piece of art in its historical context. None of those things meant what people are saying they mean now. And I hear a lot of modern songs that are degrading to women, but I don’t see Facebook posts about them."

"I think older audiences would be shocked to hear that this is even a conversation," Kilgore said.

One "feminist defense" of the song that has spread widely is a Tumblr post from 2016, in which user bigbutterandeggman points out that a woman staying unchaperoned at a man’s home in the 1940s would be scandalous, and in that context she’d have to say no, even if she wanted to sleep with him, and that it’s actually about a woman "trying to exercise sexual agency."

Still, even bigbutterandeggman concedes, "It’s a song about a society where women aren’t allowed to say yes … which happens to mean it’s also a society where women don’t have a clear and unambiguous way to say no."

"There’s no doubt that this song is problematic, and reads as coercion," John Spilker, a music and gender studies professor at Nebraska Wesleyan University, said. "Does that mean we get rid of it? No. I wouldn’t want something to be censored, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to talk about it. Part of the cultural climate is that people are finally listening."

Contact Christopher Spata at [email protected] Follow @SpataTimes.

Comments
Boy George, coming to Tampa with Culture Club, talks fame, Pulse and the term ‘LGBTQ’

Boy George, coming to Tampa with Culture Club, talks fame, Pulse and the term ‘LGBTQ’

It’ll still be June when Boy George arrives in Florida this week to kick off a summer U.S. tour with Culture Club. But the LGBTQ icon says it won’t feel quite like a Pride parade. "I also bake cakes for straight people," he laughed. "Tha...
Published: 06/22/18
Luke Bryan talks love, acceptance and his growing depth before Tampa stop

Luke Bryan talks love, acceptance and his growing depth before Tampa stop

It’s been awhile since Luke Bryan crashed our party. The country music superstar who has racked up awards hasn’t blessed us ’round these parts in awhile. Bryan last played Tampa back in 2015. "We played many multiple nights at the (MidFlorida Credit ...
Published: 06/21/18
Ticket window: Comedy Get Down, Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Gladys Knight and more

Ticket window: Comedy Get Down, Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Gladys Knight and more

Tickets for the following events go on sale this week: • Comedy Get Down with Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin, D.L. Hughley and George Lopez, 7 p.m. Nov. 17 at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, Tampa, $25-$125, on sale at 10 a.m....
Published: 06/20/18
Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

HIS KIND OF NIGHT: Luke BryanIt’s been three long years since Tampa has seen the well-groomed hide of Luke Bryan, the Hollywoodiest hunk in Nashville. But he’s about to make up for lost time. On Saturday he’ll headline his biggest-ever show here, a b...
Published: 06/20/18
Clearwater Jazz Holiday lineup: Doobie Brothers, George Thorogood, Sheila E. and more

Clearwater Jazz Holiday lineup: Doobie Brothers, George Thorogood, Sheila E. and more

Get ready to break out your finest purple during this year's Clearwater Jazz Holiday.A night celebrating Prince, led by proteges Sheila E. and Morris Day and the Time, will be among the highlights of this year's 39th annual Jazz Holiday, Oct. 18-21 i...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
SoundBytes: Alice in Chains, David Sedaris, Israel Houghton and more

SoundBytes: Alice in Chains, David Sedaris, Israel Houghton and more

— Alice in Chains are heading back out on the road, and they're coming to Orlando. They'll play the House of Blues on Oct. 27. Tickets are $49.50 and up. Click here.— Gospel great Israel Houghton is coming to the Straz Center on Oct. 12. ...
Published: 06/19/18
Review: On ‘Everything Is Love,’ Beyonce and Jay-Z emerge from chaos defiant, triumphant

Review: On ‘Everything Is Love,’ Beyonce and Jay-Z emerge from chaos defiant, triumphant

In 2016 Beyoncé dropped Lemonade, a culture-quaking song cycle about her troubled marriage to Jay-Z, and more broadly about the black female experience in America. It was her best and most meaningful work, and it was nominated for Album of the Year a...
Published: 06/19/18
XXXTentacion, controversial Florida rapper and singer, shot dead at 20

XXXTentacion, controversial Florida rapper and singer, shot dead at 20

The last words posted to XXXTentacion's Instagram Stories on Monday afternoon: "planning a charity event for this weekend Florida!"Whatever it was, it would have been huge. The 20-year-old singer-rapper was among the biggest — and most controve...
Published: 06/18/18
SoundBytes: Mat Kearney, Gladys Knight, Big Boi, Ski Mask the Slump God and more

SoundBytes: Mat Kearney, Gladys Knight, Big Boi, Ski Mask the Slump God and more

— Singer-songwriter Mat Kearney is returning to the Ritz Ybor on Sept. 27, with Atlas Genius opening. Tickets start at $26.50. Click here for details.— Also coming to the Ritz Ybor in September: South Florida rapper (and a new member of X...
Published: 06/18/18
George Lopez, Cedric the Entertainer, more bringing Comedy Get Down tour to Tampa

George Lopez, Cedric the Entertainer, more bringing Comedy Get Down tour to Tampa

Nothing like outdoor comedy on a mid-November night in Florida, right?Okay, so it's not a club or theater or even an arena, and it rarely hosts comedy shows of any kind. Still, the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre will bring a host of fans when t...
Published: 06/18/18