Study Claims Country Music Contains More Drug References Than Any Other Genre
A new study claims that the country music genre is home to more drug references than any other.
The research, conducted by data scientists at Addictions.com, found that, out of music from all genres, country songs were the most likely to bring up the recreational use of drugs. According to the study's findings, out of the eight studied genres -- country, jazz, pop, electronic, rock, folk, rap and other -- country songs contain the highest average occurrence (1.6 percent) of drug references.
Considering that country music is home to songs such as Toby Keith’s “I’ll Never Smoke Weed With Willie Again” and Ashley Monroe’s “Weed Instead of Roses,” it shouldn't be surprising that the drug most frequently mentioned in country songs is marijuana. Addictions.com's published research doesn’t call out any country artists as frequent offenders, and it’s unclear whether or not the data takes into account more subtle references to drug use, such as Eric Church’s “Smoke a Little Smoke.”
"I think because marijuana has become more normalized in our culture, a lot of country artists are signing about it more often than ever," Logan Freedman, a data scientist at Addictions.com, tells Newsweek.
Cocaine and meth are the second- and third-most frequently mentioned drugs in the genre's songs, respectively. Again, no specific songs are mentioned in the published findings, and it's unclear if the research weighed direct drug-use references the same as metaphorical ones. For example, Johnny Cash’s “Cocaine Blues” was obviously a factor, but did the Band Perry's lyric in “Better Dig Two” that passingly mentions “it won’t be whiskey / It won’t be meth” that kills the song’s protagonist make the cut?
In order to conduct their research, Addictions.com “scraped song lyrics” from Song Meanings’ database of tracks and examined the types of drugs mentioned, and how their mentions increased or decreased over time. Despite country's place at the top of the list as a genre, no country artist made the study's list of "worst offenders" in terms of individual references to drug use; the artists who most frequently reference drugs, according to the results, are mostly rock, rap and hip-hop acts.
Alcohol, which has been mentioned countless times in country songs, was not considered in Addictions.com's study. The research also indicates that drug references in music of all genres increased dramatically between the 1960s and early 2000s before seeing a significant decline around 2013.
"It’s incredibly telling if you look at music history, the '60s is when drugs started being mentioned more and more in the media," Freedman notes. "But there’s clearly some surprising new information here."