Here's some trivia for you: What musical genres drop the most drug and alcohol references? A new analysis from an EDM website has the answer, and surprisingly, it’s not EDM.
T.H.E Music Essentials looked at roughly a thousand songs and tracks from the year-end Billboard Top 100 charts spanning from 2008 to 2018. For total mentions of drugs or alcohol, EDM came in last place below rock, pop, country, and rap. For average substance mentions per song, rock came in last place, while EDM placed second to last.
Overall, the genres with the most substance mentions, in ascending order, were: pop, country, and rap. On average, each rap or hip-hop track made about 1.97 (or about 2) drug or alcohol references. And yes, you read that correctly: The only competition rappers had for citing intoxicants were country music stars, despite country music’s primarily conservative (and anti-drug) fan base.
“Between 2008 and 2018, R&B/hip-hop songs mentioned substances 1,019 times, topping the list of genres,” wrote Akshay Bhanawat at T.H.E Music Essentials. “Country music was second at 712 instances during that same period. Pop had 0.64 alcohol and drug references per song, followed by dance/electronic with 0.58 and rock at 0.49 mentions.”
To highlight how musicians wove these substances into their lyrics, the analysis highlighted a few iconic artists according to their genre, as well. Expectedly, Willie Nelson repped the country scene while Jamie Foxx was chosen for rap, hip-hop, and R&B. Snoop Dogg’s selections were, questionably, placed in the pop category.
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The analysis also found that drug and alcohol references peaked in 2014, then fell off and relatively plateaued in the following years. However, there’s been a longer trend of increasing intoxicant references in pop music over the past several decades, which T.H.E Music Essentials did not include within its study’s time span.
As for which substance was the most popular among the Billboard Top 100 charts, that would be alcohol. Speaking of alcohol, what happens if we remove it from the results?
One 2017 study at Addiction.com found that if genres are only assessed for other substances like cocaine, codeine, and molly, country music tops the list for the most “drug-ridden” genre, Newsweek reported. That same 2017 study found that rap had the fewest drug references compared to other genres, which may be due to the industry trying to clean up its act for a mainstream audience. Or, possibly, the study was only focused on music released via record labels, and not mixtapes.
But back to T.H.E Music Essentials’ study: Marijuana came in second as the most referenced substance (when alcohol was included). So, let’s cross our fingers, twist our joints, and hope that sweet Mary Jane takes the top spot in popular music over the next decade.
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