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J Am Board Fam Med. 2018 Sep-Oct;31(5):761-767. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2018.05.180001.

Opioid and Drug Prevalence in Top 40's Music: A 30 Year Review.

Author information

1
From Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, The University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN (CH); Department of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI (DH). cjhanba@umn.edu.
2
From Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, The University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN (CH); Department of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI (DH).

Abstract

OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS:

Our objective was to identify current trends in the prose of popular music and, specifically, to identify if a relationship exists between the mention of opioid narcotics in Top 40's music and a rising prevalence of opioid use disorder in the United States.

METHODS:

A list of Billboard's top 100 songs for each year of the past 30 years (1986 to 2016) was collected. Lyrics from the 40 most popular songs of each year were queried for reference to drugs and alcohol. χ2 analysis was used to identify statistically significant relationships with a level of significance set at P < .05.

RESULTS:

There was a statistically significant increase in the lyrical mention to opioids (0.0% to 5.0% of songs, P = .004), marijuana (0.6% to 17.2% of songs, P < .001), and alcohol (3.1% to 23.6% of songs, P < .001) in the 2010s decade when compared with the songs analyzed in the 1980s. The mention of opioid drugs and medications emerged in the late 1990s, and since, 57.1% of opioid-referencing songs mention prescription opioid medications and not heroin or street slang reference of the drug. Male- and female-driven mentions to drugs and alcohol have approached near equal rates in recent years.

CONCLUSION:

There is increasing prevalence in the lyrical mention of opioids, among other drugs, in Top 40's music. Nearly 50% of 2016 Top 40's songs reference drugs or alcohol. Further inquiry may be warranted to evaluate the societal impact and persuasive abilities of popular culture, including Top 40's music, on American drug and alcohol use.

KEYWORDS:

Alcohol; Lyrics; Marijuana; Music; Opioid; Tobacco; Top 40s

PMID:
30201672
DOI:
10.3122/jabfm.2018.05.180001
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Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of interest: none declared.

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