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 systematically assessed. We aimed to determine the prevalence of and contextual elements associated with alcohol brand appearances in U.S. popular music.
Qualitative content analysis.
We used Billboard Magazine to identify songs to which US adolescents were most exposed in 2005-2007. For each of the 793 songs, two trained coders independently analyzed the lyrics of each song for references to alcohol and alcohol brand appearances. Subsequent in-depth assessments utilised Atlas.ti to determine contextual factors associated with each of the alcohol brand appearances.
Our final code book contained 27 relevant codes representing 6 categories: alcohol types, consequences, emotional states, activities, status, and objects.
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%) explicitly referred 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% vs. 17.1%, P<.001). Alcohol brand appearances were commonly associated with wealth (63.4%), sex (58.5%), luxury objects (51.2%), partying (48.8%), other drugs (43.9%), and vehicles (39.0%).
One-in-five songs sampled from U.S. popular music had explicit references to alcohol, and one quarter of these mentioned a specific alcohol brand. These alcohol brand appearances are commonly associated with a luxury lifestyle characterised by wealth, sex, partying, and other drugs.