-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, Aug. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Today's popular music often
celebrates excessive drinking as a fun, beneficial pastime, even
highlighting select booze brands in many lyrics, a new study
Hip-hop, rap, R&B and country songs included references to
Patron tequila, Hennessy cognac, Grey Goose vodka, and Jack
Daniel's whiskey, which is featured in half of the songs that
mentioned alcohol, the study found. But rock songs had no alcohol
references at all.
Music can have a particularly powerful influence, the
researchers said, because American teens spend about two and a half
hours each day listening to music.
"Given the heavy exposure of youth to popular music, these results suggest popular music may serve as a major source of promotion of alcohol use among youth," study co-author David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a university news release. The findings were published online this month in Substance Use & Misuse.
Overall, Jernigan's team found that when drinking is mentioned
in a pop song, it is almost always done so in a positive light. The
downside of excessive drinking -- alcoholism, violence,
incarceration -- is rarely portrayed.
The study was based on an analysis of lyrics from hits on
Billboard's most popular song list for 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The researchers from Johns Hopkins and Boston University School of
Public Health examined 720 songs for references to alcohol and
Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of the songs mentioned alcohol. Of
these, 6.4 percent mentioned specific alcohol brands. Booze
references were especially frequent in rap, hip-hop and R&B
songs, with nearly 38 percent of those songs mentioning some form
About 22 percent of the country songs had alcohol references, as
did about 15 percent of pop songs. Most often pop and country songs
mentioned whiskey and beer brands.
The lyrics of those that did have alcohol references often tied
excessive drinking to sex, the authors noted. For example, the
hip-hop song "One More Drink" by Ludacris (with T-Pain) contains
the lines: "Was taking shots and tipping the bartender/Surrender to
the woman end up bringing me home/Cause she started looking better
every shot of Patron."
Drinking to get drunk and underaged drinking was also
encouraged. In the Asher Roth rap hit "I Love College," college
freshmen (who are typically to young to drink legally) are urged to
"Chug chug chug chug chug chug."
The researchers note that 14 long-term studies have found that
exposing young people to alcohol marketing in mass media boosts the
likelihood they will start drinking or increase their drinking.
What's more, "a small number of alcohol brands and beverages
appear to make frequent appearances in popular music," Dr. Michael
Siegel, a professor of community health sciences at the Boston
University of Public Health, said in the news release.
However, the promotion of heavy drinking in pop music and
elsewhere could have tragic, unforeseen consequences, the authors
said, noting that there were at least 4,700 alcohol-related deaths
involving underage young people in the United States each year.
The American Academy of Pediatrics provides more information on
children and media.
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