Quick read and comment

The New York Times has an interesting summary of a research study on the content of popular music as it relates to drugs:


Please give it a quick read and comment. What do you think? Has music influenced your own behavior or those around you in negative or positive ways?

Here’s the actual study if you’re interested:


Explore posts in the same categories: Do and Due

26 Comments on “Quick read and comment”

  1. Sara G. Says:

    I think this study is interesting, but the issue of music having drug-related influences/lyrics is nothing new. Songs like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” and “Purple Haze” both have direct references to drugs or drug use. Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique is about a man who takes too much opium and starts seeing visions. For me, music has influenced my behavior in positive ways. Middle school was a really tough time for me. I was going to switch to a different school, and everyone (including my teachers and the principal) were giving me a really hard time about it. They felt it was their mission to make me stay at that school. I also lost a lot of friends when they found out that I was switching schools, they called me a traitor and a sell-out. I got really depressed, and started listening to Eminem, especially the song “Stan”. In the song “Stan,” a crazed fan goes so far as to drive drunk, kidnap his girlfriend and kill himself. It also includes Dido singing “it’s not so bad/ it’s not so bad” This song is extremely depressing, but it made me realize that I still had a raison d’etre, and that my situation was not so bad. Additionally, the song “Sing for the Moment” where he talks about kids wanting to commit suicide because their life was so rough, but then they put on a rap record, and they felt better. Eminem got me through me through middle school. I also relate to him because we are both from the Detroit area. He had the guts to share his extreme angst against his mother and ex-wife, and other terrible situations. Listening to his music made me realize that everything will be ok. It was a form of therapy for me. I could just sit alone in my room, and listen to his songs, and relax. It’s something about these extreme and melodramatic songs that just ease the emotional pain.

  2. travismarkley Says:

    I realize that violence and drugs in movies, music, and even video games can really influence youth to do these things. I think the problem is not the content, which should not be censored because that is just restricting creativity. I think the problem lies in today’s parents. If kids parents would take more time to make sure their kids were acting like they wanted them to and taught them to make their own decisions instead of being influenced by what someone else is presenting them, this whole issue would not need to be addressed.

  3. lpence2 Says:

    a lot of music does have drug/alcohol references, but i do not think is the reason that adolescents get into such behavior. if a child is raised right and knows right from wrong then they won’t be influenced to abuse alcohol and drugs simply from listening to music.

  4. Emily D Says:

    A few things come to mind:
    In all honesty, reading this didn’t really do anything to make me feel like the mention of drugs and alcohol in music is an issue. I grew up around this stuff and I’m fine. All they really seemed to say was “x amount of kids listens to y amount of music for z amount of hours per day.” Granted, reading the actual study instead of the summary might clue me in to other aspects, but I would personally be more inclined to want something solid that actually happened.

    To what extent are we to say it’s only music? What about living environment, parental units, etc…

    Anyone else notice there was no reference to (and pardon me if this offends anyone) sexual activities?

  5. Jenny Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with what’s been said so far. Especially the blip about the parents. I love any kind of music really…it depends on the song, and my parents never put ANY restrictions whatsoever on my media intake or whatnot…I can listen to songs that are comprised of nothing but profanities describing drunk smoking people and it really won’t effect me that much. I think it is up to the parents, or whoever raises the kid because if all they have to turn to is music, sure…it’ll probably influence them. My parents were very good at giving me my freedom while setting boundaries and establishing pathways of truth and communication. I’ve never felt the need to turn to substances because I have always had support. It is easier said than done, but I still don’t think music alone can turn a kid to substance abuse…I mean, people dno’t watch a movie with smoking and immediately go buy a pack (usually) they are just more exposed to it.
    Anyway, music can have a huge impact on people emotionally, it has on me and that’s the reason I am a music ed. major…cause I love music so much. And although I think it can calm someone or rev someone up for something and be inspiring, I don’t think it is a main cause in leading the youth of today towards bad habits.

  6. NatDoug Says:

    I think in order to be profoundly affected by a message, one has to believe or trust the source. I only ask the people that I am closest to for advice, and only invest in the opinions of those that I admire the most. So, consider the music of say, Eminem (since he has been mentioned already), full of violent and drug-related imagery. If I were in the position where Eminen was one of the people that I most highly regarded or trusted, then his questionable activities would be something that I would adopt. So, these messages are only an issue for those adolescents who lack a stronger figure in their lives than a distant, although likely glamorous, celebrity. Most of us are fortunate enough to have friends, parents, relatives, etc that can serve as better examples than those smoking up to heavy beats.

  7. Aaron K Says:

    I tend to agree with some of the things previously said – yes there are lots of sex and drug references in the media (tv, music, movies, etc) but I dont think that they are the cause for adolescent misbehavior. In some cases, they very might well be, but i think in many cases it has to do with the relationship the parents have with the child, and what kind of communication or lack thereof they have.

    yes, music is a great form of expression, thats why we’re all music majors, but it cannot be blamed for the choices that kids make. music is a much more personal thing that people do by themselves or with a small group of people, and for themselves, and i think most teenagers do not take the lyrics literally and realize that there is a limit and boundary between creativity/expression and actions with severe consequences. the latter is for the parents to talk to their children about and make sure that they have taught them to make good choices and go on the right path. People who claim that music is the reason why kids are bad today are just trying to create a scapegoat – to cover up the fact that they didnt do an effective job at raising their kids and they feel they have to blame it on society instead of themselves.

  8. sherylm Says:

    This was a very interesting read. I do in fact believe that music can influence us but only to a certain extent. In general, I do not see a direct association between music listening and such things as profanity, suicidal thoughts, or substance abuse. I would say that bigger reasons, such as observed behavior from family or friends or experience of traumatic situations, would better explain the causes of such negative behavior. In general, the most I see music doing is introducing or familiarizing young adults with types of negative behavior.

  9. glenn e Says:

    In general, I think the influences music has on people is largely what the influenced people make of it. But whether or not this negative influence is self-inflicted, it exists and should be examined. I disagree with the idea that music with drug and alcohol references does little more than familiarize kids with negative behavior. That familiarization, however can be the lynch pin to drug or alcohol use (whether recreational or addictive). For example, if a bunch of ninth graders are hanging out after school, bored, listening to Camron’s album Purple Haze can be very malleable . A very logical next step would be to score some weed and get involved with drugs, because they have a model of a wealthy, popular, and cool (whatever that means) man advocating it. Again, the kids in this hypothetical are indeed making the most, so to speak, of their impressionability. Regardless, kids’ susceptibility to bad influences, whether self imposed or not, exists, and music with drug and alcohol references can ultimately take advantage of that.

  10. bkenis2 Says:

    I think that alot can be made about how drugs and violence are depicted in the movies and in music, but the most important part of a child’s growth comes from his/her parents. Most people don’t watch a violent movie and then go hurt someone, and although studies do say that kids who listen to more music with drug references are more prone to do it, I think its more of a reflection on the general failure of parents then the fault of music companies or the musicians. It’s not like all of the sudden musicians are putting in drug references. I would say the 60’s didn’t produce the most clean cut music. Part of the history of music is change and development. Every generation, there is always something more shocking, appalling, and unethical to the previos generations, and yet it is inevitablly extremely popular. Stopping drug use and violence can be prevented by a good education, good parenting, and proper care, not by banning or limiting freedom of expression from musicians, even if what they are expressing is seemingly vulgar.

  11. hornplaya88 Says:

    It is true that there is much drug, alcohol, and violence references in the media, movies, and as this study suggests most importantly, music. There have been many studies that relate exposure to violent video games, music, and movies detrimental to children. It is true that the Columbine shooters did play grand theft auto, but I believe it is a fallacy to believe that playing violent video games, or listening to music with violence and drug references and be terribly detrimental to children. I believe that kids will do what they want and are mostly uninfluenced by music, movies, media, and video games. Have people historically not drank alcohol, done drugs, and became serial killers before the introduction of rap music and grand theft auto into society? We should stop blaming new technology for our problems and look at the way we raise our children to prevent future drug addicts and serial killers.

  12. theresas Says:

    Although I found the study interesting, the people researching the study did not correlate the number of times each person hears the songs to their behavior, which would have been a little more helpful than simply giving us numbers. If I missed where in the study they correlated these factors, please let me know where. I know they give the percentages of times each genre makes references to these factors, the number of times songs refer to motivations to these factors, *but* they never once say that students behavior is related to the music they listen to (For example, people who listen to Rap music are more prone to using marijuana because it has a great “n” factor). They only state things such as Rap music has a greater “n” factor than pop music.

    I think we nay want to be a little more cautious about the conclusions we made from this article. We have been going into conversations about how music affects our behavior and conversations different parenting styles/monitors. I think this article, while definitely worthwhile and interesting, is only making the point (and only that point as stated in the abstract “To perform a comprehensive content analysis of substance use in contemporary popular music”) that kids are exposed to a lot of sketchy subjects. Whether music actually does affect behavior or whether its how parents monitor their children, I do not know, but I am sure there are different studies and different conclusions to that. This article, however, is not the article off which we can base these conclusions.

  13. Ryan M. Says:

    so, how long has alcohol existed in society? how long have drugs? these things didn’t just pop up once people started putting it in their music, they’ve been around long before and its unfair to blame the media for kids getting into drug and alcohol abuse. what people need is a scapegoat, and since its becoming more and more popular to find references in the media, they are the logical people to blame. what it comes down to is if kids get into a situation with drugs and/or alcohol it’s not going to be the 2-3 min songs they’ve heard, its most likely going to be the years they’ve spent at home with their parents or guardians thats going to influence their decision. i know more people who wont do those sorts of things because of their parents than people that do.

  14. Melissa S Says:

    I agree with what most everyone has been saying. Just because someone listens to a song, does not mean that they believe in everything that song is saying. It all depends on whether or not the individual has strong enough morals and values to trust themselves over what a song is telling them.

    Also, I find it funny that this is becoming a recent problem, because I feel like this has been happening for a while, if you go back and listen to songs from earlier decades and REALLY listen to the lyrics, you will take a step back and realize that many of those songs also talk about the same things that rap songs today do, they just word things a little differently within the lyrics.

  15. eskayve Says:

    I think the main thing that music influences is emotions because the lyrics can really relate to people. Also, chord progressions and melody lines can really move listeners. As far as alcohol and drug related lyrics go, I think they play a really minor role in persuading listeners to take part in such activities. Movies, on the other hand, can push people to smoke, drink, etc more that music because of the visual element…viewers can see how these activities seem fun or “cool”, based on how the movie portrays them.

  16. Erin Kimberlee Says:

    I feel that while the words and references to alcohol and drugs that are contained in some music don’t help drugs resistance, drug use doesn’t multiply because of the lyrics of popular music either.

    If people are concerned about young people using alcohol and drugs, they should think about effective ways to fix the problem, as opposed to speculating weather or not lyrics in certain songs have an impact on drug use.

  17. jschwar7 Says:

    SO about this whole thing. I don’t know what else to say besides everything on here was pretty much true. I listened to Rap mostly through high school just for the beats but until i started listening to the lyrics, I can’t believe I ever listened to so much crap and it’s ridiculous. Pablo Fransico said it best on a joke he used in one of his stand-ups…. “Here’s what Rap artist say whenever they get an award. I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for my number one hit single, it’s call suck yo mom. Thank you very much.” And it’s so true unfortunately. Country is just as bad. I hate both. So in conclusion, parents, save your kids lives someday and let them listen to good music.

  18. Jeff N Says:

    I totally agree with Erin, even though the lyrics of some songs contain innuendos or straight out shout outs to drugs and alcohol, its not mezmerizing kids to go and buy some weed. There should be some filters in songs, but I beleive that just lyrics in a song do not influence the population as big as they make it seem

  19. Marie R Says:

    I think that the way you raise your child determines how your child acts. Things like rap music cannot be accountable for whether not your child swears or uses illegal drugs. I think when trying to figure out who is to blame for a child’s behavior, blame should be not be placed on rap music.

  20. mike k Says:

    Interesting…I do agree that music can influence people in this way but firmly believe that peers influence children much more heavily than music. Of course, kids will probably listen to very similar music as their friends…so these two could be correlated. Basically, I think parents should be much more concerned about who their children hang out with rather than their music choices.

    As for myself…I usually don’t listen to popular music; I prefer classical. I really don’t think classical music influences me other than to subtly alter my mood. I do listen to some alternative and a little bit of industrial metal, but I don’t feel more inclined to take the lyrics seriously when they involve drugs or alcohol. I suppose it depends on the person when considering the impact of song lyrics on kids’ life choices, which has a lot to do with other factors in the child’s environment…which goes back to my point that peers are the main influence.

  21. kevinraschen Says:

    I know there is a lot of drug, alcohol, and violence references in rap music, but I do not think there is a direct correlation between the music and the behavior. Drugs and alcohol have been around much longer that rap music, and people still did drugs and drank alcohol. References to drugs and alcohol are all around us, in movies, on commercials, and on billboards. Rap music is just one of the many things that contain drug and alcohol references. I am not saying that rap music has no effect on kids decisions when it comes to doing drugs or drinking, but I don’t feel like it is a major reason why kids drink and do drugs.

  22. kditsch Says:

    I never really realized how many references were actually made in music to drugs, alcohol, and violence. I think that it does not really affect kids that listen to it. I don’t know about everyone else, but I always knew that things in the movies and on TV and in music weren’t always real, and that it was definitely not real life. So I really think that kids will listen to this music and enjoy it, even laugh that they are making these references, but I highly doubt that many people will actually go out and try drugs just because someone artist said they did it.

  23. Batman Says:

    There is not doubt in my mind that the all forms of entertainment with drug content do influence todays kids. Still, this has been happening since before our parents were kids. We can not sensor the music because music is expression. Music may make drugs “look/sound” cool, but the kids are still doing drugs because how they are brought up at home. The real issue is parenting, not drug content in music. This is a growing problem in today’s world.

  24. us243 Says:

    The way I look at this ‘issue’ is thinking back on how music started and why. Music was used to pass on Aural traditions. From folk music to blues music people all around the world used lyrics in music to portray what was going on in that time. Music has evolved over the times and we can see that in the many different genres of music that we have today. Over time historic events, culture, and personal intrest has shaped music and has completley influenced the lyrics that were chosen by different artists to express what was going on at that time. Different genres have been associated with certain artists in which they have the musical freedom to write about whatever they want. And if the topic of drugs is heavily present in the music of our time especially in rap as this reasearch study shows, then maybe ‘we’ the industry should look at this as an answer to our very question about the influence of music and drugs. Perhaps ‘we’ should look at this correlation of increasingly negative lyrics in our music today as a representation of the growing problems that our society is having with the influence of drugs. As artists have done from the very beginning of early music our artists today are doing the exact same thing, passing on an aural tradition of what is really going on in our world today. The bigger problem lies in what influences the artists to chose the lyrics that they select to use. At least that’s how I see it, maybe we should be doing a research study on the increasingly negatvie influence of drugs in today’s society. If we figured that out, and tried to fix it, then wouldn’t the lyrics in music change?

  25. emilyjayne Says:

    …honestly, i can’t think of songs that i listen to that have drug references. maybe i’m not paying attention enough? the culture is out there, certainly, but people who are going to do drugs and drink do it because of the environment they’re in, not necessarily what they’re listening to. things like movies and television and advertisements that portray smoking and drinking as “cool” have much more impact, i think, because it’s visual and it’s very hard to deny what they are doing. lyrics about drug use usually employ metaphor (lucy in the sky with diamonds, puff the magic dragon, where have all the flowers gone, etc) — and i feel like the terms are strange enough that if you don’t know what a bong is, you probably will just hear something else in place of that word (what exactly IS getting “crunk”, anyway?). however filthy the lyrics may be… they’re not shoving a cigarette or a drink in anyone’s hands. people make their own decisions, in the end, and putting the blame on music is just an attempt to transfer responsibility away from the REAL source of the problem.

  26. Kristin K Says:

    While I do agree that situations regarding drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and sexual promiscuity are still very prevalant in popular songs and the media today, I really don’t believe that the intent is to influence and alter the behavior of children today. Most kids, in my opinion, listen to the music they do for the catchy lyrics, rhythms, and hooks and don’t even begin to comprehend what the lyrics actually mean. I emphatically agree with emily in the sense that music should not be blamed since it only serves as a shield for irresponsibility from the child’s parents or the like.

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