Thursday, December 23, 2010

Soundtrack Songs (Holiday Edition): Baby It’s Cold Outside

Leon Redbone and Zooey Deschanel: Baby It‘s Cold Outside


Baby, It’s Cold Outside is one of those accidental holiday songs. There is no mention in the lyrics of Christmas, and the spirit of the piece is really not very Christmasy at all. Frank Loesser wrote Baby It’s Cold Outside in 1944, and he marked the two parts in the score "mouse" and "wolf". For four years, Loesser performed the song with his wife, Lynn Garland, at informal occasions. Then, in 1948, Loesser sold the rights to the song to MGM. Garland was reportedly furious.

MGM’s first move was to place the song in a movie, Neptune’s Daughter, where it was sung twice, by Ricardo Montalbán and Esther Williams, and also by Red Skelton and Betty Garrett. Another notable soundtrack appearance of the song was by Bette Midler and James Caan in the 1991 film For the Boys. But here, we hear the version from the song’s most recent soundtrack appearance, in the movie Elf. As far as I can tell, this is the first time the song was used in a holiday-themed movie. Leon Redbone and Zooey Deschanel play the parts of the wolf and the mouse perfectly.

Over the years, the song has been performed by some very unlikely couples. Here are a few: Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart, Martina McBride and Dean Martin, James Taylor and Natalie Cole, and my favorite for sheer weirdness, Ann-Margaret and Al Hirt.

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