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One-Third of Popular Songs Refer to Substance Abuse
Date:11/8/2007

Rap and country top the list with references to alcohol, drugs, study finds

THURSDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Could country music be worse for kids than rock music? If you judge by the number of alcohol and drug references in songs, a new study suggests the answer could be yes.

Researchers who looked at the bestselling songs in several genres from 2005 found that 37 percent of top country songs featured references to drugs or alcohol, compared to just 14 percent of rock songs.

"It's not like country music is as wholesome as mom and apple pie," said Ralph DiClemente, a professor of public health at Emory University who's familiar with the study findings.

But country couldn't hold a candle to rap music, whose singers referred to substance use in a whopping 77 percent of songs.

The study, released Wednesday at the American Public Health Association annual meeting, in Washington, D.C., didn't examine whether there's a link between song content and how kids behave. Still, research does suggest that children aged 8 to 18 listen to popular music about two hours a day.

"It's good for us to know that this exposure is there so that we can go the next step," said study author Dr. Brian Primack, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "We can talk to kids about it and say what we think is correct, and what is not."

The study researchers looked at 279 of the bestselling songs in 2005, based on Billboard magazine charts, in five genres they considered popular with kids -- rap, country, R&B/hip-hop, rock, and pop.

In total, one-third of songs referred to substance use. Just 9 percent of pop songs and 20 percent of R&B/hip-hop songs did.

Singers referred to alcohol and marijuana the most and were more likely to refer to what the researchers called "positive" consequences. "What we found is that very often, sexual, social
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