Boston University School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers have identified the alcohol brands most frequently mentioned in popular music, raising questions about whether public health efforts should focus on reducing youth exposure “to these positive messages about alcohol use.” Michael Siegel, et al., “Alcohol Brand References in U.S. Popular Music, 2009-2011,” Substance Use & Misuse, August 2013. Relying on Billboard Magazine’s most popular song lists in the urban, pop, country, and rock categories for 2009, 2010 and 2011, the study’s authors found that 23 percent of the 720 surveyed songs mentioned alcohol and 6.4 percent included a mention of a specific alcohol brand, with four brands alone—Patron tequila, Hennessy Cognac, Grey Goose vodka, and Jack Daniel’s whiskey—accounting for more than half of all alcohol brand mentions.

“Even in cases where alcohol companies are not directly promoting the mention of their brands in music lyrics, they may still be tacitly endorsing the way in which their brands are portrayed,” warns the study, which claims that many performers not only glamorize underage alcohol consumption in their songs but are sponsored by alcohol brands. “If companies are not protesting or disavowing the mentions of their brands in contexts that are inconsistent with the industry’s voluntary codes for portraying their brand images in advertisements, this could suggest that the companies are endorsing the context in which their brands are being portrayed in popular music, such as being associated with intoxication, underage drinking, or the use of alcohol to entice women into having sex.” See Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Press Release, August 28, 2013.