Pop Singers Advertise Alcohol Brands

Drinking certain brands of alcohol common topic in popular music

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Popular music artists often sing about partying and drinking. Many underage kids listen to those songs, which sometimes can sound like advertisements for specific brands of alcohol.

A recent study looked at how songs in the popular music industry talk about alcohol use and brands of alcohol. The results showed that more than half of all alcohol mentioned in top-chart music were of four major alcohol brands.

According to the study's lead author, these brand-name mentions could be influencing young people's drinking habits. 

"Talk to your kids about alcohol use."

Michael Siegel, MD, MPH, professor of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health, led this investigation into mentions of alcohol in popular, contemporary music.

According to the study's authors, more than 70 percent of high school students have drunk alcohol, and roughly 22 percent of those students have participated in episodes of binge drinking.

Every year, an estimated 4,700 underage drinkers die from alcohol-related incidents, and accidents. Injuries, legal fees and other alcohol-related consequences cost somewhere around $27 billion in the US.

The authors noted that teenagers in the US spend about 2.5 hours per day listening to music.

Many alcohol brands sponsor music venues and hire popular music artists to promote and advertise for their brand.

“Thus, alcohol companies may be indirectly promoting brand-specific alcohol use among underage youth through sponsorship of popular artists,” the authors wrote.

For this study, the researchers looked at 720 songs from the four most popular music genres on the year-end charts of Billboard Magazine in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Alcohol in general was mentioned in 23.2 percent of all of the songs. Broken down by genre, alcohol was mentioned in 14.9 percent of pop/Billboard Hot 100 songs, 21.8 percent of country songs, 37.7 percent of R&B/hip-hop/rap songs and 7.3 percent of rock songs.

Specific brands of alcohol were mentioned in 6.4 percent of all of the songs. Specific brands of alcohol were mentioned in 6.2 percent of country songs, 11.8 percent of R&B/hip-hop/rap songs, 3.4 percent of pop/Hot 100 songs and 0.0 percent of rock songs.

Separated by year, alcohol was mentioned in 27.1 percent of 2009 songs, 24.3 percent of 2010 songs and 18.0 percent of 2011 songs.

“In the 46 songs containing any alcohol brand mentions, there were 64 references to 24 unique brands of alcohol,” the authors wrote.

Among the 64 brand-name mentions, 51.6 percent of the mentions were of four brands in particular: 23.4 percent for Patron tequila, 12.5 percent for Hennessy Cognac, 7.8 percent for Grey Goose vodka and 7.8 percent for Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

The country music genre also mentioned beer in general eight times.

Of the 167 songs that mentioned alcohol, 96 of the songs were in the R&B/hip-hop/rap genre.

The study authors noted that the alcohol references included in this study were only of songs at the top of the charts and did not include all of the other music on the market.

“A small number of alcohol brands and beverages appear to make frequent appearances in popular music. 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,” Dr. Siegel said in a press release.

This study was published in August in Substance Use & Misuse.

Agencies within the National Institutes of Health supported funding for this project. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
August 29, 2013
Last Updated:
August 31, 2013