Saturday, May 24, 2008

Popular Music Influence

I like popular music, along with all genres like R&B, hip-hop, classical and golden oldies. The pre-teens and adolescents that I know are fixated on Rap and don't listen to much else. The influence of Rap music is world-wide, not just the United States, and the entire rap subculture has permeated the world.

The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine published a study that looked at popular music and references to substance abuse. I am not surprised at all by their findings but seeing it in print was a bit of a wake-up.

The authors analysed 279 of the most popular songs of 2005 according to Billboard magazine. They used coders (funny to read about coders for anything other than medicine) who collected portrayals of substance abuse.

Of the 279 songs, 33.3% portrayed substance abuse with an average of 35.2 references per song-hour. The rap songs had the most references at 77%. Pop music had 9%.
Surprisingly, country songs talked about substance abuse with 36% references. R&B/hip hop songs had 20% references to substance abuse.

The references to substance abuse were most often connected with social pressure, partying, sex and violence. Only 4 songs (4%) contained explicit antiuse messages and none talked about substance refusal. The songs portrayed more positive than negative consequences; like social, sexual, financial or emotional.

So what does all of this mean? Well, the average adolescent is exposed to approximately 84 references to explicit substance use daily in popular songs and these songs link drug use in a favorable way.

I am not on a bandwagon to ban music or burn iPods, but studies like these can make us acutely aware of just one of the many negative influences our kids face as they try to grow up.
I know my son is fascinated by, and loves gangster rap. I will use this study as yet another "talking opportunity" about forces that are not healthy for mind or body.


Paul Eilers said...


I read this out loud to my wife while she worked in the kitchen.

People like to say that what you listen to doesn't make a difference, but these statistics nullify that argument.

"Garbage in, garbage out."

Cynthia Chiarappa said...

Once again - as always - we see clear evidence about the crucial role that "aware" and "present" parents play in raising their children!! And how unfortunate for the many, many kids who aren't fortunate to have such parents in their lives...

Anonymous said...

I wonder if there are any studies on the percentage or satastics on how many teenagers listening most only to Rap graduated from high school and then went on to graduate from college and what kind of parent, family, home stucture they have?
Sad, but true influance.

Toni Brayer MD said...

KM: I actually think Rap music is so ubiquitous world wide and all types of people listen to it and like it. Lots of successful and good upstanding citizens like Rap.

Music lyrics are just one aspect of a toxic culture that promotes unhealthy choices. Awareness, consciousness and guidance for kids is what is needed when they are bombarded with images and references that are meant to be cool.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I see your point with all types of people and sucessful ones listening to Rap and in thinking about your comment I agree.
What first came to my mind was the news stories of Rap stars being murdered and the associtaion of violence with it that movies and TV portray. KM

Makelani said...

It's amazing!!!
It's amazing that none of you guys realize that rap music is in the same genre as Hip Hop! just listen to the styles and lyrics that both music display. Also R&B and mostly all of Rock music including alternative all sing on things that our young people should not be exposed to; such as teen age dating; teen age sex and so forth.Todays music is filled with provacative issues that are constantly being played into our children.Also check out on THE TRUTH BEHIND HIP HOP. I aree Garbage In Garbage Out!!!!!!