Drugs and Music Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

Drugs and music have gone hand in hand since the jazz of the 1920′s, but a recent study looks to see what genre contains the most drug references today.
Drugs and Music
Drugs and music have been psychologically linked since the beginning of time. In the American experience the the roots of this connection go back to the jazz clubs of the 1920′s. One of the reasons given for criminalizing marijuana was to protect white women form the influences of jazz. Comically, today jazz is considered to be a more high brow genre than rock or rap. The three big genres of music today are rock, rap and country. Of these three genres, which one do you think has the most drug influences? The truth is it’s impossible to tell. The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine may give some indication, however, as they recently calculated the number of drug references per hour in modern music for each genre.
The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine refrain from giving any judgments on music, but simply provide raw numbers in their study. As some of you may guess, it is rap that comes in first. On average, rap contains over one hundred and four references per hour. Of these references marijuana and cocaine were the two biggest, with alcohol not far behind. With song lyrics such as “Oxycontin, Xanax bars, Percocet, and Lortabs, Valiums, Morphine patches, Ecstacy, and it’s all up for grabs” by Lil Wyte, it should be no question why rap leads the pack.
What I found surprising is that country music comes in a strong second. The average hour of country music contains thirty-three drug references per hour. Almost one hundred percent of these references are about alcohol. Songs such as “Beer for my Horses” and “I Love this Bar” are popular examples of alcohol-themed country music. On alcohol, country beats out rap. Out of rap’s one hundred and four references, only fourteen were about alcohol. This study hints that cowboys are seven times more likely to become alcoholics than gangsters.
Drugs and Music
Perhaps most surprising, rock music contains the least references to drugs out of any of the studied genres. The average hour of rock songs contain just seven drug references. Also, these references are more likely to point to the negative effects of drug usage. Country and rap almost always paint drugs in a positive light. Modern rock songs are more likely to be about becoming an addict than having fun at the bar. This points to the changing dynamic of rock music. What was once an extreme and subversive musical underground has become mainstream. In the 1960′s and 70′s rock and rollers dying of a drug overdose was almost a monthly occurrence. Rock has, for better or worse, undergone the same transformation that jazz underwent in the fifties and sixties.
The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine attempt to estimate the total exposure for the average American teen. According to their calculations, the average teenager listens to two and a half hours of music per day. Over the course of a year, this adds up to over thirty thousand drug references. The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine do not make any judgments based on their findings. They do conclude however, by saying that censorship is not the answer. Teenagers can and will hear music everywhere. Banning music in the home does not help. What they recommend is educating kids and helping them realize that musicians are trying to “sell records, not to reflect reality.”

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