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Oct 03, 2013 10:06 AM EDT

Most UK Chart Hits Have Alcohol Related Lyrics, Liverpool Study

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Nearly one in top five modern U.K. songs contains alcohol related lyrics.  Popular songs making references to booz have doubled over the last decade, according to a new study conducted by researchers from the Liverpool John Moores University.

The researchers said that such songs, which are an indirect form of advertising, glamorize drinking by associating it with confidence, sociability or good looks; disregard the possible risks (hangovers and health problems) and encourage youngsters to drink more.

Professor Karen Hughes told the Daily Mail UK that parents should be aware of the content of songs their children are listening to.

This finding supports activists who claim that these chart hits promote drinking among young adults and hampers their efforts to dissuade them. They said that teenagers disregard public health messages on alcohol as they are frequently exposed to alcohol related songs, which promote it as an acceptable social activity.

"A greater understanding of the impacts of alcohol-related popular music content on young listeners is urgently needed. Health and other professionals should be vigilant for increases in alcohol-related lyrics and work to ensure that popular music does not become a medium for reinforcing and extending cultures of intoxication and alcohol-related harm," the study said, according to the Telegraph.

The researchers arrived at the conclusion after examining and comparing music charts over four decades. They observed mentions of alcohol and drunkenness in songs that achieved UK top ten in 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011.

"We analysed music from four different decades and the most recent study was by far the most references to alcohol we've had," Hughes told Clickliverpool.

They found that pro-drinking lyrics increased sharply as  time progressed.

The songs that were introduced around 1981 had few references (5.8 percent) to alcohol, the number further declined in 1991 (2.1 percent). However, alcohol once again hit the charts by 2001, featuring in eight percent of popular hits. This figure rose by 18.5 percent in 2011 in top 10 songs featuring drink-related lyrics. The same year also saw one in eight songs containing references to heavy drinking.

The researchers also found that mention of alcohol was a regular feature in songs from the U.S. and in R&B, rap and hip-hop genres.

Recent songs that popularize alcohol include Rihanna's Cheers, Kesha's Tik Tok and American singer Katy Perry's 2011 single 'Last Friday Night.'

Perry's hit single that mentions extreme drinking not only claimed a top 10 position in the U.S. and the U.K., but also in Australia, Austria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Venezuela.

The research concluded: 'Health and other professionals should recognize increased alcohol promotion in popular music and ensure this does not reinforce the binge drinking culture or contribute to the already high burdens of alcohol on young people.'

The report has been published in the journal Psychology of Music.

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