Baby, It’s Cold Outside

You might have noticed a lack of blog post last Monday. I’d been planning to write something about a book I recently read called A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit, but came down with pneumonia. The only reason there were posts on the past two Saturdays is that they were already written (it seems like whenever a Bible study comes together really well so I have an extra Sabbath post ready “just in case,” something comes up that gives me a reason to use it).

It’s been nearly two weeks now and I still don’t feel fully recovered (much better, though!). So instead of a thoughtful book review, I want to talk to you about a song that’s been stuck in my head. Or rather, a specific version of the song.

You’re no doubt familiar with the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” You might even have heard Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé’s new cover already, but if you haven’t seen the video yet please take a few seconds to at least glance at it, since that’s a big part of what I want to talk about.

Apparently they’ve tried to turn this song into a cute family-friendly version for the holidays. If you close  your eyes, though, it still sounds like a man trying to seduce a woman. But then you open your eyes and see a cute little pre-adolescent kids acting out the roles. In the words of Jubal Early, does that seem right to you?

In the original score, written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, the two singing parts are called “wolf” and “mouse,” with a male voice usually singing “wolf” and a female voice usually singing “mouse” (thought not always — did you know Joseph Gordon Levit could sing?). Actually, it turns out we can talk about Wendy Shalit’s book after all, since she mentions “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” in her modesty book.

Now this song is very stereotypical because certainly not all men are hungry wolves and not all women reticent mice. Indeed, I’ve known quite a few hungry woman and mousey men. However, the simple fact remains that a young woman in 1948 had a hundred and one reasons to say no to sex, if she wanted to say no, and those reasons were credible. The story we are told today is that all these reasons, such as a father waiting up for you, were oppressive to women. And yet in their absense we can appreciate how an earlier generation of girls was made powerful by them. (A Return to Modestly, p.55)

If she’d seen this music video, though, I’m not sure Miss Shalit would have put her discussion of it under the heading “Girls Who Can’t Say No” as a contrast between today’s culture and that of 1948 (the year Loesser sold the rights to MGM). I think she might have moved the discussion to one of the many passages in her book where she talks how much we as a culture sexualize our children. For one thing, she draws a parallel between assigning sex-education classes to younger and younger students and increasing levels of student-on-student sexual violence in schools.

The associative link between the disenchanting of sex and increased sexual brutality among children works like this: if our children are raised to believe, in the words of the New Jersey kindergarten teacher, that talking about the most private things is “no different from talking about an elbow,” they they are that much more likely to see nothing wrong in a certain kind of sexual violence. (A Return to Modestly, p.19)

Now, I’m not saying this cute little music video is going to lead to increased levels of sexual assault among children. Rather, it bothers me as part of a trend that portrays young children in more and more sexualized ways. Most people I know would hope their 10- or 11-year-olds didn’t understand what’s going on in this song — they wouldn’t be encouraging them to sing it. And if this little boy was older, I’m not sure which interpretation of the song this performance would make me lean towards. Does “mouse” want to stay but feels she should leave, and “wolf” is persuading her to do what she wants? Or is “mouse” really trying to get away, and “wolf” is blocking her escape? Depends on how you sing the song, and how you feel about the line “What’s in this drink?” that was cut from the video, but not the version on Idina Menzel’s CD.

Am I over-thinking this? Perhaps. But it saddens me how many people think this is just a cute little video and don’t seem to see the potential implications of two children singing what is a rather adult song. Sure they’re adorable and talented, but was it a good idea for the adults who were in charge of creating this music video to use them like this? I really don’t think so.

Songs by Mood

marissabaker.wordpress.comLast week, I learned that Neurowear launched a set of headphone about a year ago that scans your brainwaves and matches music on your iPod to your mood. As border-line creepy as that sounds to me, it’s just the next step from websites like Moodstream and Musicovery that play music based on whether you’re feeling happy, sad, calm, dark, lively, inspired, positive, creative, or pretty much any other mood you like.

I have genres or playlists that I’ll turn to for different moods, but I also have specific songs that I like to play for specific feelings. Is this just me? Or do you have a song you play every time you’re sad? A favorite song to match a happy mood? What about songs that help you deal with anger?

Angry

You know that feeling when you’re angry and you know you shouldn’t be, but you still need to do something with those feelings? That’s when I sing these songs. I feel much better afterwards and it means I’m not taking out my anger on anyone else, so they’re happy (although I have been told it’s creepy to witness).

No Good Deed — from Wicked (Idina Menzel)

Mordred’s Lullaby — Heather Dale

Blown Away — Carrie Underwood

Sad

These songs are like a pat on the back or a hug when I need reassurance. I listen to them when I’m feeling down and want to move out of that mood.

Everything is Fine — Josh Turner

Little Miss — Sugarland

You Are Loved — Josh Groban

Sub-category for when I’m discouraged about being single:

As Fast As I Could — Josh Turner

Melancholy

These songs are for sadness that I want to enjoy. It’s the “sad is happy for deep people” feeling rather than being sad for a reason that makes you not want to be sad any more.

Wine After Whiskey — Carrie Underwood

September — Daughtry

Katie — Celtic Thunder /Colm Keegan (which I’m afraid there’s no video for, but you can hear a clip)

Inspired

These are the songs I play when I want to feel like I’m fearless and I can do anything.

Defying Gravity — from Wicked (Idina Menzel)

Wide Open — Jason Aldean

I Stand — Idina Menzel

Happy

I was trying to think up songs for this category, and my sister said, “Don’t you sing One Direction when you’re happy?” As embarrassing as that may be,  yes I do. I’ve whittled it down to just one song from them, though.

What Makes You Beautiful — One Direction

Nil Se’n La — Celtic Woman

Hopeful

Since “Waiting For Superman” didn’t quite fit in with the happy or the melancholy songs, I’ve added this category.

Waiting For Superman — Daughtry

Wedding Day — Casting Crowns

This Is The Moment — from Jekyll and Hyde (Robert Cuccioli)

Peaceful

I play these songs when I want to relax and I’m trying to encourage a peaceful feeling. They’re usually the first songs I play, then I move on to a playlist of related songs and artists. Or I listen to instrumental music with dolphins.

Hero — Il Divo

So She Dances — Josh Groban

Worshipful

These are my favorite stand-in-awe of God songs.

Blessed Be Your Name — Robin Mark

Who Am I — Casting Crowns

In Christ Alone — Keith and Kristyn Getty

Music In My Mind

Phantom of the Opera marissabaker.wordpress.comWhen my cousin went to see The Phantom of the Opera, she was disappointed because the Phantom had a lack-luster voice. That was not the case last night at the Ohio Theatre in Columbus. Cooper Grodin turned in an amazing performance, which was well-supported by a talented cast including Grace Morgan as Christine and Ben Jacoby as Raoul.

This was my second time seeing a touring Broadway production in Columbus (the first was Wicked, last July). My sister and I are in serious danger of becoming theater addicts. We love the atmosphere (especially in a theater as lovely and historic as this one in Columbus), the excuse to dress elegantly, the quality of the music, and the set changes. Before going to Wicked, I had no idea set design was so elaborate.

One thing I love about Phantom is that since it is a play about stage actors, the audience switches from being viewers at the play The Phantom of the Opera to being part of the play as an audience for the plays enacted in the Opera Populaire. We became part of the Phantom’s opera house. Sometimes, he seemed to be singing just over my shoulder because of speakers at the back of the theater (which were only used for his character). Then, near the end when Raoul orders the doors bared against the Phantom’s escape, we heard doors shutting behind us.

Christine’s has long been one of my favorite roles to sing, and the English major in me also likes to analyze her character. From reading stage directions (included in the booklet that came with my copy of the CD), it often seems like she’s in a trance — as if the Phantom is a student of Franz Mesmer and has been practicing a form of hypnotism on Christine. She’s not mad — at least insofar that she’s not imagining the Phantom — and she’s not stupid. She, like the entire play and audience, is under the Phantom’s spell.