12/11/2012 10:39 am ET

Is "Baby, It's Cold Outside" A Date-Rape Anthem?

Each year, we’re deluged with the same chipper songs desperately persuading us to embrace the holiday spirit, and each year they seem to hit radio earlier and earlier. We hear “Deck the Halls” while we’re throwing out jack-o’-lanterns. We hear about chestnuts roasting on an open fire while we’re carving the turkey. Pretty soon we’ll be hearing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” when it’s 80 degrees. That might actually be the only way that particular song could get worse.

Always a popular duet since its creation, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” has become a fresh chestnut in recent years. It was written in the 1940s by Frank Loesser, who performed it at parties with his wife. He wrote the male part as the “Wolf” and her part as the “Mouse.” Eventually Columbia Pictures bought the song and debuted it in the 1949 Esther Williams vehicle “Neptune’s Daughter,” co-starring Ricardo Montalban and Red Skelton. The film features the song not once but twice, sung by two different couples. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” won the Oscar that year for best original song, and since then it’s been sung by anyone who knows a few chords on the piano or who knows someone who knows a few chords on the piano.

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