Alcohol 'promoted in chart hits'
References to alcohol in the lyrics of chart hits by singers like Katy Perry could be encouraging young people to drink, according to new research.
Nearly one in five songs in modern UK top 10s mentions alcohol, a sharp rise from just a decade ago, said researchers from Liverpool John Moores University.
Professor Karen Hughes, of the university's Centre for Public Health, said: "Health and other professionals should recognise increased alcohol promotion in popular music and ensure this does not reinforce binge drinking culture or contribute to already high burdens of alcohol on young people."
The figure from 2011, 18.5%, is more than double the percentage of references from 2001, at 8.1%. In 1991, just 2.1% of songs referred to drinking, with the 1981 figure at 5.8%.
The study analysed lyrics of singles including US singer Perry's 2011 hit Last Friday Night, which includes lines about drinking "too many shots" and smelling "like a minibar".
More recent hits spoke about drinking in a positive way, "linking alcohol use to valued attributes and favourable outcomes", added Prof Hughes, who also said that US songs and those in the R&B, hip-hop and rap genres were more likely to have mentions of alcohol.
Positive references outweighed those that mentioned negative aspects of drinking, with the study citing Aloe Blacc's 2011 song I Need A Dollar, which contains the lyrics: "My wine is good to me, it helps me pass the time. And my good old buddy whiskey keeps me warmer than the sunshine."
Analysis of the data from the Official UK Charts Company also showed 12.6% of 2011 hits had lyrics about heavy drinking, with 3% containing references to specific brands of alcohol.
Prof Hughes has urged more research to be carried out into the phenomenon.
In the study, published in the Psychology of Music journal, she concluded: "Public health concerns are already focused on the impacts of alcohol advertising on the drinking behaviours of young people, yet the growing reference to alcohol in popular music could mean that positive alcohol promoting messages are reaching much larger audiences, regardless of restrictions (e.g. age) on direct advertising.
"A greater understanding of the impacts of alcohol-related popular music content on young listeners is urgently needed."