Is Pop Music Driving Teens To Drink?

Teenage pop music listeners hear, on average, more than three brand-name alcohol references per hour, according to a new study published in the medical journal Addiction. Given that most teens listen to 2.5 hours of music a day, this works out to more than eight brand-name alcohol references a day, in addition to another 26 plugs for drinking alcohol in general.

Even though it is illegal to target alcohol advertisements to minors, referencing brands in songs represents a sketchy middle ground as long as the musician is not paid by the brand. The researchers note that

most instances of brand-name references in song lyrics seem to be unsolicited and unpaid for by advertising companies. However, the line between paid advertising and brand references is difficult to distinguish because advertising companies have begun retroactively to reward artists with product, sponsorship, or endorsement deals after a song containing their productís name becomes popular.

This means that rappers and pop musicians have an incentive to name-drop expensive brands of liquor, as they might get financially rewarded later by becoming spokespeople for these brands. This is a huge problem because, as ABC News explains, “the relationship between the two industries could encourage young people to begin alcohol use early and to continue [drinking] throughout their teenage years.” Indeed, most of the brands of liquor that were plugged by rappers are those that just happen to be especially popular among underage drinkers. But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

One of the most disturbing — and predictable — findings of the study is that alcohol use is overwhelmingly associated with positive things, like wealth, sex and luxury goods. Effectively, these musicians are sending the message to America’s youth that alcohol use is a whole lot of fun, with very few downsides. And hey, while you’re at it kids, try out these cool brands!

In light of recent revelations that Amy Winehouse, a pop singer herself, died from an alcohol overdose, the booze-soaked nature of the music industry should give all of us pause. There aren’t enough counterweights, like Winehouse’s passing, to the idea that alcohol is a purely positive substance to use. At the very least, just as radio stations must censor curse words, they should be forced to take similar action against these de-facto ads that harm our kids.

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The Hidden Costs Of Alcohol Abuse In America

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Photo credit: Mel B.'s Flickr stream.


Magdalena K.
Past Member 6 years ago


D. T.
D. T.6 years ago

For those of you that said, "parents need to be responsible for raising their children", I totally agree!! But, sometimes that is just NOT enough, there are so many influences out there, from peer pressure to public advertising and so on, we can not always put blame the parent.

Marilyn NOfwds D.
6 years ago

Parents have the responsibility to teach their kids to be responsible.

Quite frankly, the music itself has no redeeming qualities, but you can't regulate that.

I just heard a report (I don't know how accurately it was studied) that heavy metal music causes more people to become depressed. I'm not surprised. I think it also promotes aggression.

Erth G.
Erth G.6 years ago

Rosanna K. this is centered towards kids that have not had time to develop a whole lot of will power yet.

I am also pretty sure pop has not been around for 56 years also and not the same thing that is mention in this article.

Computerized music is still man-made and not natural art. Anyone would know not everything that is artificial is good for you even if you try to sugar coat and make it sounds nice.

Mrs Shakespeare
Mrs Shakespeare6 years ago

Well, Keisha says that before she leaves, she brushes her teeth with a bottle of jack, so...yeah, kinda :/
Pop culture is to blame for soooooo many things, but if you educate your child, and show him/her the real dangers of doing something, and I mean the REAL dangers, then hopefully they will be immune to most of the rubbish the media presents.

Nikolas Karman
Nikolas K6 years ago

Pop music is no different to brainwashing techniques employed by military/ CIA etc al.
both have the same end result. I would not even call it music as it is not in harmony with the earth frequencies by deliberate design. For example the frequency of A is 441 htz not 440 and this is just the start of the problem.

Rosanna Klaver
Rosanna Klaver6 years ago


tiffany t.
tiffany t6 years ago

No. Peer pressure, mental/physical abuse, lack of proper education, lack of positive activities, and poor communication between teens and parents. Of course exceptions apply to every situation but I do not feel music is driving teens to drink

Bill K.
Bill K6 years ago

well at least these "critics" aren't finding satanic messages in the songs when they play them backwards

Hilary E.
Hilary E6 years ago about you raise your children to be intelligent and aware. I enjoy certain pop songs and I am well aware that they are designed scientifically to sound good to your ear and get stuck in your head and make you spend money...but because I think about things I don't let them brainwash me. Maybe if people would stop letting themselves be brainwashed they wouldn't be, it's really not that hard. Also, if you think rap is the worst thing in the world think for a second...what exactly would you have gangsters listen to? Inner city youth? Every genre exists for the people it represents whether you agree with the message or not and every genre has complete crap and good creative talent. Tupac an intelligent and eloquent poet...just because the words don't sit right with you dont make them irrelevant.