Alize, Cristal, Barcardi and Grey Goose, these are just a few of the brand alcohol references that are overheard when listening to various types of music these days. The outright glamorization of drugs and alcohol is nothing new when it comes to music lyrics, however, exactly how many of these references may possibly be influencing our adolescent population – that is the question. There is no doubt that every study done to date has marked proof of the effect of the media on society. Notably, references to smoking tobacco are not as common in music currently; only three percent of songs portray any use of tobacco.
The international medical journal Addiction reports that when it comes to popular music twenty-five percent of songs that refer to liquor also enclose alcohol brand names. 3.4 alcoholic brands are basically being received and listened to per hour! When researches from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine performed their study (the research done spanned 2005 – 2007) they concluded that nine percent of pop songs contained lyrics concerning alcohol and drugs….the number drastically increased to fourteen percent when it came to rock songs, twenty percent with R&B and hip-hop music, thirty-six percent for country songs and a whopping seventy-seven percent in relation to rap songs.
Not only are the references significant, but the idea coming across is that all of these “items” promote the notion that alcohol and drugs are needed to “be cool” or “live the life of luxury”. The lyrics seem to be advertising that one must have or use these items in order to relax and enjoy life. Music is well-known to connect deeply with adolescents and to influence identity development, perhaps more than any other entertainment medium.
Authors of this study believe that there are evidential ties between alcohol manufacturers and the music industry (one example is between the years of 1995 and 2001, Universal and Polygram both were linked to the alcohol manufacturer Seagram’s); and unless you have been living under a rock, the recent rise in Rap and R&B artists lending their names in promotion of, or branding their own alcohol has become extremely prevalent (TI – Remy Cognac 2010, Snoop Dogg – Landy Cognac 2008, Jay-Z – Armadale Vodka 2002 and Lil’Jon – Little Jonathan Wineries 2008). With kids receiving approximately 35 references of substance abuse for every hour of music they listen to, these issues seems to be grabbing more attention due to the fact that children and adolescents are in contact on a more regular basis with music – music that is not necessarily being monitored by their parents. Their exposure to music is on a much grander scale versus their exposure to television or movies; they have iPods and Mp3 players with them throughout the day.
Music has a profound impact on individuals no matter their age…..it represents a powerful social force that lends its self to the shaping of an individual’s personal identity, memories and attitude. The real concern is that less is known about the effect these songs have on childhood risk behaviors.