Popular Music May Serve As Major Source Of Promotion Of Alcohol Use Among Youth
August 29, 2013

Four Alcohol Brands Depicted Positively In Song

Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Booze and music are two things that are often tied together, and that isn’t likely to change. However, the amount of references to particular alcohol brands appears to be on the rise in recent years.

Four alcohol brands in particular stand out for dominating popular music with mentions in the lyrics. According to a study conducted by researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health and the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, these include Patron tequila, Hennessy cognac, Grey Goose vodka and Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

The findings of the study were published online in the Substance Use & Misuse journal, and this is the first such research to examine the context of specific brand mentions in depth. The study found alcohol was often presented in an overwhelmingly positive light, with negative consequences rarely mentioned.

The study’s authors looked at 720 songs that were on Billboard’s most popular song lists from 2009 to 2011 and found 167 (23.2 percent) mentioned alcohol and 46 (6.4 percent) actually mentioned specific alcohol brands. The aforementioned brands accounted for more than half (51.6 percent) of all alcohol brands mentioned.

Alcohol mentions were most common in urban songs – including rap, hip-hop and R&B – with 37.7 percent of songs that mentioned alcohol, followed by country at 21.8 percent and pop at 14.9 percent.

So common were the mentions, CNBC actually noted in a slideshow “10 Country Songs About Jack Daniel’s”, and noted while country music songs may explore topics such as heartbreak, incarceration and infidelity, “just as often the mainstream country song turns to another topic, one that has held mankind in its sway since time immemorial — drinking alcohol.”

The CNBC article even called out such catchy country titles as “Jack Daniels If You Please” by David Allan Coe and the simply put “Jack Daniels” by Miranda Lambert. While many country tunes about alcohol may be cautionary, her song noted the whiskey “made a woman of me.”

The whiskey brand also is mentioned in two songs – “Tick-Tock” and “Blah, Blah, Blah” – by pop singer Ke$ha.

If country and pop dominate Jack Daniels, then Hennessy is the alcohol choice of hip-hop. Yahoo! Music even compiled “The Hip-Hop Hennessy Playlist,”, with 20 songs from the likes of Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G. and Justin Timberlake offering up lyrics that mention the brand.

Grey Goose and Patron tequila also appear quite a bit in hip-hop lyrics, with the latter most notably called out in the hit song “Patron Tequila” by Paradiso Girls.

Studies have found adolescents in the United States spend approximately 2.5 hours a day listening to music, and the amount of alcohol references is what worries the researchers.

According to more than a dozen long-term studies, exposure to alcohol marketing in the mass media could increase the likelihood for young people to start drinking, or to drink more.

“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,” said study co-author David Jernigan, PhD, director of CAMY in a statement. “The findings lay a strong foundation for further research.”

While the researchers looked at 720 songs in four genres, which included the aforementioned urban, pop and country, as well as rock, it was noted there were no references to alcohol in the rock music examined. The researchers found references to tequila, cognac, vodka and champagne brands were most prevalent in urban music – which included R&B, hip-hop and rap - while references to whiskey and beer brands were more common in country or pop music.

“A small number of alcohol brands and beverages appear to make frequent appearances in popular music,” added Michael Siegel, MD, MPH, professor of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. “If these exposures are found to influence youth drinking behavior, then further public health efforts must be focused on youth exposure to alcohol portrayals in popular music.”