Death as portrayed to adolescents through top 40 rock and roll music

Adolescence. Winter 1993;28(112):793-807.


Rock and roll music, an important influential communication source, provides adolescents with messages about death in our society. The first 37 years of Top 40 rock songs (1955-1991) were examined, and songs that included a past death or an impending death were identified. The popularity of the songs, cause of death, gender of the deceased, and relationships among characters were determined. Analysis of song content was conducted, with specific emphasis on attitudes toward and means of coping with death. Results indicate that death songs comprise a disproportionately popular subset of Top 40 music, males dominate the obituaries, and grieving responses are restricted. Findings are discussed from a sociocultural perspective, with attention to their significance for adolescents.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music*
  • Personality Development*
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Violence