“They try to shut us down, so buy another round” croons hip-hop-cum-pop star B.o.B in his Gold-certified single, “We Still in this B****.” But another round of what, precisely? According to a new study, it’s probably a round of Patron tequila, Hennessy cognac, Grey Goose vodka or Jack Daniel’s whiskey — brands that have become synonymous — just like Lamborghinis, G5′s and Gucci bandanas — with the glamorous lives of the artists at the top of the charts.
Researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health and the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined the songs listed on Billboard Magazine’s most popular song lists from 2009-2011. Sorting them into four genres — urban, rock, pop and country — they analyzed the lyrics to more than 700 chart-topping songs.
Not surprisingly, 167 (23%) mentioned alcohol, and 46 of them even referenced a specific brand of liquor. Half of these “shout-outs” dropped Patron, Hennessy, Grey Goose and Jack Daniel’s by name.
In rap, hip-hop and R&B music, nearly 38% of the tracks mentioned alcohol in some way; 21.8% of country songs and 14.9% of pop hits also explicitly referred to alcohol in their lyrics. Most common were references to tequila, vodka, cognac and champagne in hip-hop, rap and R&B, whereas country and pop music seemed to prefer whiskey and beer. Interestingly, researchers found no references to alcohol in the rock music at the top of the charts.
The 2009 hit track Shots, by electronic/dance group LMFAO, could be considered the perfect storm, referencing alcohol (by brand or otherwise) 89 times in 4 minutes, 14 seconds — that’s one reference for every 2.85 seconds of music.
It’s no secret that youth begin experimenting with alcohol at an early age — a National Institute of Health study found the average age of first use was 14-years-old — but the study’s authors think a possible correlation between adolescent alcohol consumption and popular music consumption could be cause for concern. “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,” David Jernigan, PhD, a co-author of the study the director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Johns Hopkins, said in a press release.
Ask any high-school freshman what Ke$ha’s morning routine includes and you’re bound to hear about how, before she leaves her house each morning, she likes to “brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack / ‘Cuz when I leave for the night I ain’t comin back.”