So, this is Christmas music?
Reviving a debate as stale as a holiday standard, San Francisco’s KOIT and other radio stations are weathering a backlash for banning Frank Loesser’s Oscar-winning 1944 song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Once seen as sexually progressive, the duet between an overbearing man and a reluctant woman can now be read as creepy, pre-“Me Too” coercion.
The problem here is thinking too small. Instead of limiting their naughty lists to Christmas music deemed outdated or offensive, the stations should expand them to address the unacceptably annoying.
Start with the Beatles: Paul McCartney’s infuriating, infectious (in the epidemiological sense) “Wonderful Christmastime” and John Lennon’s supercilious “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” featuring apparently well-intended but immortally bad lyrics like: “And so happy Christmas/ For black and for white/ For yellow and red ones/ Let’s stop all the fights.” Speaking of good causes deserving better songs, the Band Aid dirge “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” labors under the misconception that there is no snow or Christianity in Africa. I could go on, but as the cornered “Cold Outside” woman puts it, I simply must go.
KOIT did, by the way, admit to one other song it blacklisted, inexplicably, for “negative language”: a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” which has been repeatedly ranked among the greatest songs ever written. Its first stanza asks a question befitting that decision and many holiday playlists: “You don’t really care for music, do ya?”