Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Wednesday 2 October 2013

"He drinks a whisky drink, he drinks a vodka drink, he drinks a lager drink, he drinks a cider drink...."

From the Independent:
Scientists say increasingly boozy lyrics could be encouraging young people to drink 
Researchers analysed more than 600 successful singles from 1981 onwards, with the lyrics of each song assessed independently by two team members to identify references to alcohol and alcohol consumption.
Thanks to our habit of saluting the ever-increasing number of known Near-Earth Asteroids, the Tavern is no stranger to the time-honoured tradition of the drinking song. Since humanity first discovered the secret of producing alcohol, we've been happily singing about it, which suggests that we might be looking at a touch of confirmation bias here.

As Leg-Iron points out, citing an abundance of pre-war drink-related music, 1981 was probably something of a low point in alcohol reference - largely, if I remember rightly, because much of punk and mainstream pop was heading into the realm of politics while the New Romantics were too intoxicated by their own hairspray and narcissism to need any alcoholic assistance.

In any case, I can't imagine today's young people taking much notice of Roxy Music or The Jam - or, for that matter, anything before the golden oldies of 2010, such is the ephemeral nature of popular culture. It seems odd to take a 34-year sample, especially with a starting point that coincides with electronic pop; while booze and guitars make natural bedfellows, the chap with the synth usually has to stay sober.

However, it does amuse me to think of all those po-faced academics sitting round earnestly analysing the minutiae of four decades of trivial pop:
Strict criteria were applied to define a “mention” of alcohol, and the high figures do not even include fairly obvious but indirect references such as non-specific drinking at parties (the study offered “Sippin’ on a different drink,” Snoop Dogg vs. David Guetta – Sweat, 2011, as an example). 
“We’re dancing on the bar”, appearing in The Saturdays’ All Fired Up (2011) was also “deemed too ambiguous for inclusion”.
Somehow, all I can think of is this...

For more, I recommend Mark Wadsworth's post on the subject.


  1. Ta for linking.

    That Chumbawumba song is dangerous though, if you listen to it while driving you actually start swerving about all over the place.

  2. Not as bad as reflex pogo-ing to the Stranglers.

  3. Macheath, sorry to bring it to your attention but are you having a bit each way? In your url, it's "whiskey" but in the text, it's "whisky". ;-)

  4. JH, the lyric I cut and pasted had 'whiskey'; online lyrics can be unreliable so, though from the context it may well have been whiskey (I think it's fair to say the song's protagonist does not appear to have a discriminating palate), I decided to alter it to the product of these shores.

    Of course it should really be usquebaugh anyway.



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