The church ladies were busy wrapping a mountain of gifts for the annual “Angel Tree” toy giveaway when the holiday classic, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” came on the radio.
It was a karaoke moment.
“I really can’t stay (Baby, it’s cold outside)
I gotta go away (Baby, it’s cold outside)”
Everyone, except a 19-year-old, knew the lyrics.
After all, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” has been a Christmas staple since it won an Oscar for “best original song” in 1949, the year I was born. I don’t think I ever paid much attention to the words past the catchy refrain.
But the controversy over the appropriateness of the catchy tune has cast the ’50s era into a modern-day dilemma:
Where does seduction end and unwelcome advances begin?
“The neighbors might think) Baby, it’s bad out there
(Say what’s in this drink) No cabs to be had out there…
“I ought to say no, no, no sir
(Mind if I move in closer?)
At least I’m gonna say that I tried
(What the sense of hurtin’ my pride?)
I really can’t stay (Baby, don’t hold out)
Baby, it’s cold outside.”
Apparently, #Time’sUp on flirtatious lyrics that we once found harmless; we now interpret it as glorifying “date rape.”
All it took was for one caller to complain about the classic Christmas song, and an Ohio radio station pulled “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from its playlist.
A California radio station suffered a backlash after it removed the song from its rotation and had to walk back its decision, Fox News reported.
“You’d better not be caught singing that song,” said one of the church sisters with a laugh.
It is sort of silly.
As the co-founder of the #MuteRKelly movement, Kenyette Tisha Barnes @LegisEmpress tweeted:
“Radio stations are upset about ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside,’ meanwhile @rkelly is still ‘bumping and grinding’ on the airwaves … Help me understand!”
Whenever I hear “Step in the Name of Love” by R. Kelly, I want to shut it down.
If it comes across on my radio, I dial it down. If a D.J. plays Kelly’s steppin’ song, I ask him or her to turn it off.
My feet might want to step, but my heart is not in it.
The #MuteRKelly movement has been trying to shut down the R&B star’s music and performances since 2017, when fresh accusations surfaced about Kelly’s alleged sexual abuse of young black women.
Although activists Oronike Odeleye and Barnes have been able to stop 11 of Kelly’s performances, resulting in an estimated $1.7 million in lost revenue from ticket sales, “Step in the Name of Love” might as well be the steppin’ anthem.
When that song comes on, otherwise woke people will hit the dance floor like Kelly really is the Pied Piper.
The popular R&B singer was acquitted on 14 counts of child-pornography charges a decade ago, but new allegations by parents who claim Kelly is operating a sex cult and holding their daughters against their will, reopened the singer’s unsavory past.
Additionally, Kelly’s ex-wife, Andrea Kelly, finally broke her silence about the alleged abuse and controlling behavior she endured during her 13-year marriage to the R&B singer.
Kelly’s ex-wife went on ABC News’ popular show, “The View” and gave a tearful interview about domestic violence that including being choked in the back of a Hummer and hog-tied.
Still, Kelly’s “Step” song will be in rotation this holiday.
“Because we are talking about the perfect storm,” Barnes told me: “celebrity status, protecting black men from criminal prosecution and a historic lack of accountability and protection of black female victims of sexual assault. Radio stations are still getting money from promoting these concerts and events,” she said.
“R. Kelly is so entrenched in the culture in Chicago that there is not a whole lot we can do to change that mindset, and R. Kelly’s behavior has reached this point in 30 years and is not going to go away in a year and a half,” Barnes said.
The activist pointed out that some of the young women who are the subject of fresh accusations against Kelly weren’t even alive when Kelly went on trial for child pornography.
“This is going to take a cultural change and will require at some point that black girls have to have their own #MeToo moment,” Barnes said.
Meanwhile, we’ll have “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” to kick around.