If Betty Carter isn't singing the female part, you might be listening to the wrong "Baby, It's Cold Outside."
(Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty Images)
If Betty Carter isn't singing the female part, you might be listening to the wrong "Baby, It's Cold Outside."
(Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty Images)
Baby It's Complicated Outside, Arena Rock, Cumbia, Nick Cave v. Brian Eno, Juice WRLD...
Matty Karas, curator December 12, 2018
quote of the day
It seems to me what music is, is everything that you do.
rant n' rave

It isn't weird to process art in the context of the present, rather than in the context of when it was recorded or written or painted or filmed. It would be weird not to. We don't listen to MOZART in 1783, JAMES BROWN in 1965 and CARDI B in 2018. We listen to all of them in 2018. And the music may or may not resonate in 2018 the same way it resonated in centuries past. The best music, like all good art, survives not because we freeze it in its moment, but rather because we respond to its sound and its emotion and its truth in *our* moment. It survives because it continues to resonate. Which doesn't mean we erase the circumstances of its creation or what it meant in its time. That's part of the music, too. We can appreciate how things have changed, though. We can disagree with a song's message or its arrangement or its tone and still celebrate its core beauty. We can disagree with each other. We can raise our eyebrows at a song like "BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE" without condemning FRANK LOESSER, who wrote it in 1944, for not anticipating how 21st century ears would hear it. Nor do we have to condemn anyone who continues to perform or program a song originally intended as a duet to sing at parties. Because baby, it's complicated inside. The song, which morphed over time from party song to movie sync to American songbook standard to holiday classic, is a cheeky bit of social commentary. That, at least, was the intent, and that presumably is how it was heard by most midcentury ears. But in recent years, a growing chorus of listeners has heard something far uglier in the male character's overtures to his female friend. This isn't because of #MeToo; we've been debating Loesser's song for years. The #MeToo movement has added fuel to the debate, though, and we find ourselves now in the middle of competing calls to drop it from radio playlists and to un-drop it. In 2018, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is both feminist target and feminism anthem. Is it possible both sides are right? Is it possible each side could learn something from the other? Is it possible we'll still be debating this 20 years from now? MusicSET: "Baby, It's Complicated Outside"... As for the six-letter f-word at the center of the debate over another classic 20th century Christmas song, is it that hard to acknowledge that it's both a great song and a terrible word? Is it that hard to acknowledge that the writer had a clear and honorable literary intent in using the word and that it's still, nonetheless, a terrible word? If we bleep anything on the public airwaves—as we obviously do—can't we just bleep this one, too, and move on? The writer seems to be cool with that... In other debate news, NICK CAVE writes a letter to BRIAN ENO about performing in Israel, which the former did and which the latter wishes nobody would do... DEF LEPPARD wins the fan vote for the ROCK HALL OF FAME, and finds out on Thursday if it actually gets in. A worthy candidate from an underrepresented genre. But inducting Def Leppard before JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN risks invoking the wrath of SATAN and other dark lords, and do we really want to do that?... RIP LUCAS STARR... Happy birthday to our friend and REDEF reader IRVING AZOFF.

Matty Karas, curator

December 12, 2018