We all know and love the iconic and controversial Christmas song ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’. We’ve seen it in popular Christmas movies like Elf, Neptunes Daughter, and probably every other Christmas film you’ve ever seen. It’s been covered Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Michael Bublé and countless others since its initial release in 1949.
70 years on from the initial release, and this gentle Christmas number has certainly generated numerous debates based on interpretations of the song. Interpretations vary, with one idea being a man being unable to accept “no” as an answer as he pursues the female protagonist, and others disagreeing with it entirely. Regardless of if you agree with it or not, it has ultimately been removed from the air on radio stations.
But, before the controversy landed, we had a simply brilliant song. Interpretations may have altered today, with audiences now less willing to perpetuate any kind of negative outlook, but for a while, all that mattered was how the song was sung. For a time, two people triumphed above everyone else: Betty Carter and Ray Charles.
Musical legend Betty Carter had influenced an unsurprisingly large number of musicians with her work and was responsible for discovering iconic talent in jazz music, such as John Hicks, Dave Holland and Stephen Scott. Carter has a huge repertoire of renowned songs, having her discography date back to 1955, and releasing essentially an album a year up until 1996.
Another musical icon: Ray Charles. Blinded by what was thought to be glaucoma, Charles was frequently referred to as “The Genius”. In spite of his disability, his musical impact is still just as large as his singing partners for the iconic Christmas cover and didn’t surrender to the disadvantages that it caused. He boasts multiple successful and influential singles that reached the Top 40 on a variety of different charts, so much that Billy Joel told Billboard, “This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley.”
This version of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ doesn’t feature the stereotypical jingle bells that is all too frequent in modern-day Christmas music. Instead, it is more of a jazz styled brass and woodwind cover of the song, which, after having far too many jingle bells pushed into our faces nowadays, is essentially a nice breath of fresh air. Although not an initial success like previous hits ‘Georgia On My Mind’ and ‘Hit The Road, Jack’ were, it still made it to the top 100.
At over 60 years old, this cover of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ still manages to be frequently adored and listened to, as long as you can ignore the arguably controversial lyrics. The voices of both Charles and Carter make you forget about the lyrics and just enjoy the music that they have both produced.
See the iconic cover below.