Alcohol brand appearances in US popular music

Addiction. 2012 Mar;107(3):557-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03649.x. Epub 2011 Oct 20.


Aims: The average US adolescent is exposed to 34 references to alcohol in popular music daily. Although brand recognition is an independent, potent risk factor for alcohol outcomes among adolescents, alcohol brand appearances in popular music have not been assessed systematically. We aimed to determine the prevalence of and contextual elements associated with alcohol brand appearances in US popular music.

Design: Qualitative content analysis.

Setting: We used Billboard Magazine to identify songs to which US adolescents were most exposed in 2005-07. For each of the 793 songs, two trained coders analyzed independently the lyrics of each song for references to alcohol and alcohol brand appearances. Subsequent in-depth assessments utilized Atlas.ti to determine contextual factors associated with each of the alcohol brand appearances.

Measurements: Our final code book contained 27 relevant codes representing six categories: alcohol types, consequences, emotional states, activities, status and objects.

Findings: Average inter-rater reliability was high (κ = 0.80), and all differences were easily adjudicated. Of the 793 songs in our sample, 169 (21.3%) referred explicitly to alcohol, and of those, 41 (24.3%) contained an alcohol brand appearance. Consequences associated with alcohol were more often positive than negative (41.5% versus 17.1%, P < 0.001). Alcohol brand appearances were associated commonly with wealth (63.4%), sex (58.5%), luxury objects (51.2%), partying (48.8%), other drugs (43.9%) and vehicles (39.0%).

Conclusions: One in five songs sampled from US popular music had explicit references to alcohol, and one-quarter of these mentioned a specific alcohol brand. These alcohol brand appearances are associated commonly with a luxury life-style characterized by wealth, sex, partying and other drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcoholic Beverages / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Marketing / statistics & numerical data
  • Music / psychology*
  • Object Attachment
  • Observer Variation
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Class
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • United States