Research Notes: Alcohol Brand References in U.S. Pop Music

Today I'm launching a new feature on Pop Health called "Research Notes".  This feature will highlight new peer-reviewed research that integrates public health and pop culture.

Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have recently released a study that examined alcohol references in popular music.  The study is published early online in the journal Substance Use & Misuse:

Alcohol Brand References in U.S. Popular Music, 2009–2011
Michael Siegel, Renee M. Johnson, Keshav Tyagi, Kathryn Power, Mark C. Lohsen, Amanda J. Ayers and David H. Jernigan
(Posted online on August 23, 2013; doi:10.3109/10826084.2013.793716)

The study highlights several interesting findings:
  • Four alcohol brands (Patron tequila, Hennessy cognac, Grey Goose vodka, and Jack Daniel’s whiskey) accounted for more than half of alcohol brand mentions in the songs that mentioned alcohol use in Billboard’s most popular song lists in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
  • Alcohol mentions were most common in urban songs (rap, hip-hop and R&B – 37.7% of songs mentioned alcohol), followed by country (21.8%) and pop (14.9%).
  • Alcohol use was portrayed as overwhelmingly positive, with negative consequences rarely mentioned.
In the study's press release, researchers highlight several practice implications of these findings:
  • “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. “The findings lay a strong foundation for further research.”
  • “A small number of alcohol brands and beverages appear to make frequent appearances in popular music,” said 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.”


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