Cpl. Jeremy Catledge of the U.S. Marine Corps Pacific Band and guest entertainer Ginai sing "Baby It’s Cold Outside" at the Fourth Annual Na Mele o na Keiki (Music for the Children) Holiday Concert in 2011.
Loesser wrote the duet in 1944 and premiered the song with his wife, Lynn Garland, at their Navarro Hotel housewarming party, and performed it toward the end of the evening, signifying to guests that it was nearly time to end the party. Garland considered it "their song" and was furious when Loesser sold the song to MGM.
The lyrics in this duet are designed to be heard as a conversation between two people, marked as "mouse" and "wolf" on the printed score; they have returned to the "wolf's" home after a date, and the "mouse" decides it is time to go home, but the "wolf" flirtatiously invites her to stay as it is late and "it's cold outside". The "mouse" wants to stay and enjoy herself, but feels she has to return home as her family will be wondering where she is. Every line in the song features a statement from the "mouse" followed by a response from the "wolf". Usually the "wolf" part is sung by a male and the "mouse" by a female.
Criticisms of the song stem from a reading of the lyrics not as the "mouse" wanting to stay and only putting up a token protest for the sake of appearance as supported by lyrics such as "The neighbors might think...", "My father will be pacing the floor", but instead as the "mouse" genuinely wanting to leave but being stopped by the "wolf" being coercive in his pleading with the mouse. Examples of questionable lyrics in this regard include, "I simply must go", "The answer is no", "I've got to go home". There is also the line "Hey, what's in this drink", which with current interpretation could be taken to sound suspiciously like the "mouse" has been drugged. Many movies, at the time the song was written, used a similar line to refer to someone behaving in a different manner than they expected and blaming it on the alcohol.
The song is heard on stations around Christmas time. It is a popular duet as the lyrics as conversation with interjections by the "wolf" cause some interaction between the vocalists.
In at least one published version the tempo of the song is given as "Loesserando", a humorous reference to the composer's name.
The recording by Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer was recorded on March 18 and released by Capitol Records as catalog number 567. It first reached the Billboard Best Seller chart on May 6, 1949, and lasted 19 weeks on the chart, peaking at number four.
The recording by Don Cornell and Laura Leslie with the Sammy Kaye orchestra was recorded on April 12 and released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-3448. It first reached the Billboard Best Seller chart on June 24, 1949, and lasted 10 weeks on the chart, peaking at number 13.
The 1961 Ray Charles/Betty Carter version is the first of two versions to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart (1958 to present) and the only one for over forty-eight years; it peaked at number 91 in March 1962. This version was used in the 1990s on the program A Different World, in which a husband and wife lip sync to the recording as a means of flirtation.
In 1991 Lauren Bacall and Thora Birch performed it in the movie All I Want for Christmas.
The song was featured in the video game mafia 2's radio stations.
Actress/singer Zooey Deschanel, who appeared in the 2003 film Elf, recorded the song with Leon Redbone for the film's soundtrack. In the movie itself, Deschanel sings part of the song with Will Ferrell while she is showering and he is sitting on the bathroom counter.
Mac Miller, under the pseudonym Larry Lovestein, and Ariana Grande recorded and covered this song. It was released for free download on December 24, 2012
Dianne Reeves and Lou Rawls cover this on the 1995 Blue Note Records release Jazz to the World, a shoot-off of the Very Special Christmas series.
Sketch comedy group Key & Peele parodied the song in a sketch entitled Just Stay For The Night riffing on the song's creepy undertones with the male's persistence resulting in the female turning the tables on him and making him wish he would have let her leave.
On December 21, 2013, Saturday Night Live's Jimmy Fallon and Cecily Strong performed a spoof version in which he succeeds in talking her into a twelve-minute tryst, then immediately regrets it, with her singing about their future relationship and him trying to sing her out the door.
Reference in the writings of Sayyid Qutb
The book The America I Have Seen (1951) by Egyptian IslamistSayyid Qutb describes a scene at a church dance Qutb attended in Greeley, Colorado: "The dance hall convulsed to the tunes on the gramophone and was full of bounding feet and seductive legs ... Arms circled waists, lips met lips, chests met chests, and the atmosphere was full of passion....And the Father chose. He chose a famous American song called 'Baby, It's Cold Outside,' which is composed of a dialog between a boy and a girl returning from an evening date." Qutb was a leading thinker of the Muslim Brotherhood and his book had a major impact on Islamist views concerning America.
^ abcRoberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 134. ISBN1-904994-10-5.