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What Effect Does Alcohol Have on Music Use?

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Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 7/08/2022

Alcohol is a major influence on modern music. Celebrities who perform music abuse alcohol, sing about alcohol and use references to alcohol in the names of their songs. While not all performers sing about alcohol or abuse alcohol, substance abuse has become a theme in many genres like hip-hop, country, and pop. 

People who listen to music that focuses on alcohol also have an increased risk of developing an alcohol abuse disorder (AUD). Music that features alcohol use is dangerous for adolescents and teenagers, especially if they live in a home with alcoholic parents or have access to alcohol.

What Are Some Songs About Alcoholism?

There are many songs about alcoholism. Many musicians choose to incorporate alcohol into their music and some musicians focus on the hardships of alcoholism. Alcohol can also be found in music from almost every genre. In fact, even songs from many years ago feature alcohol and its dangers.

Below are some of the most well-known songs about alcoholism.

  • Gin & Juice
  • Shots
  • Crack a Bottle
  • Hennessey 
  • Swimming Pools (Drank)
  • Fireball
  • Blame It (On the Alcohol)
  • Buy You a Drank, (Shawty Snappin’)
  • You and Tequila 
  • Drunk on a Plane
  • Beer for My Horses 
  • Sunshine and Whiskey 
  • Tequila 
  • Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound 

These are a handful of the most popular songs about alcohol, alcoholism, and alcohol abuse.

1. Gin & Juice

Gin & Juice is a hip-hop song that was produced by Snoop Dogg in 1993. The song has also been featured in several movies like Down to Earth. In the name, the song references a common mixed drink, which is Gin & Juice. Gin is a common type of alcohol to mix with things like tonic water, fruit juices, and even other types of alcohol. 

A notable part of the song includes Snoop Dogg rapping the lyrics: “Sippin’ on gin and juice, laid back with my mind on my money and my money on my mind.” In these lyrics, Snoop Dogg directly references drinking alcohol. He also references Seagram’s gin and other types of alcoholic beverages. He also references drinking in the middle of the street, which is glorifying alcohol usage in neighborhoods.

2. Shots

Shots is a pop song produced by the band LMFAO. The song was released in 2009 on the band’s album Party Rock. LMFAO wrote the song and it’s about drinking alcohol and partying. The song includes many references to people dancing and having a good time. Some lyrics like “We like Ciroc, we love Patron” glorify alcohol and drinking liquor. In fact, Ciroc and Patron have high alcohol percentages and are known for getting people drunk fast.

Lil Jon was also a featured artist on the song and can be heard yelling “Shots, shots, shots, everybody.” Shots refer to small glasses of liquor that contain a high percentage of alcohol. Drinking shots is a way to raise blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rapidly, which is why shots are a common choice for bouts of binge drinking. Ultimately, the name Shots tells the listener that the song is about getting drunk off of liquor.

3. Crack a Bottle

Crack a Bottle was written by Eminem and released in 2009. It’s a hip-hop song that’s about the hip-hop industry, sex, and drinking alcohol. Crack a Bottle was one of Eminem’s biggest hits in 2009 and can be found on the album Relapse. Relapse is an interesting name for an album because it suggests that the artist went through rehab but did not succeed at staying sober. 

Some of the famous lyrics from Crack a Bottle that reference drinking are “So, crack a bottle, let your body waddle.” These lyrics stick out because Eminem is suggesting that alcohol relaxes the body. 50 Cent and Dr. Dre are also featured artists in Crack a Bottle. Their lyrics also reference drinking, sex, and other proactive activities.

4. Hennessey

Hennessy is a hip-hop song released by LOUI in 2021. The song is about the alcoholic beverage Hennessey, which is a type of cognac that’s produced in France; cognac is a type of brandy that’s only made in France. In Hennessey, the artist references Hennessey in most of the lyrics. For example, some of the lyrics include “Hennessey, she’s my Hennessey.” In these lyrics, LOUI is comparing a woman to Hennessey, which is his favorite alcoholic beverage.

Hennessey is also about a man’s love for a woman. There are several lyrics like “Let me love love love you,” which suggest that LOUI is talking about a woman he loves. Ultimately, the song is about a man comparing Hennessey, his favorite alcoholic beverage, to his favorite woman (or the woman he likes).

5. Swimming Pools (Drank)

Swimming Pools (Drank) was released in 2012 by Kendrick Lamar. It’s a hip-hop song that can be found on Kendrick Lamar’s album good kid, maad city. In Swimming Pools (Drank), Kendrick Lamar sings about alcoholism and drinking alcohol. One of the most famous lines from the song is “First you get a swimming pool full of liquor, then you dive in it.” The line before that, “Babysittin’ only two or three shots,” shows that not drinking enough alcohol is considered weak in the songwriter’s eyes.

Black Hippie is another artist that worked on Swimming Pools (Drank). While his lyrics differ from Kendrick’s, he still sings about alcoholism and alcohol consumption. That said, the end of the song begins to focus on the dangers of alcoholism, gun violence, and poverty. Additionally, lyrics in the song like “Some people wanna kill their sorrows” suggest that alcoholism is a way to cope with stress.

6. Fireball

Fireball is a pop song about Fireball Whiskey, which is a cinnamon whiskey. The song was released in 2014 by Pitbull, who is known for producing music about drinking alcohol and partying. John Ryan is also a featured artist in Fireball and has a similar style as Pitbull. Fireball is considered a pop song but some listeners consider it to be a hip-hop song. It can be found on Pitbull’s album Absolute Dance Autumn 2014.

While Fireball can be associated with Fireball Whiskey, it’s also a song about dancing and partying. For example, the lyrics “Jiggle, wiggle, and dance,” suggest that dancing and drinking are fun. Pitbull also includes lyrics about dancing with women and sleeping with women, which he also ties into alcohol usage. Overall, Fireball is a song about drinking shots of liquor, dancing, and getting drunk.

7. Blame It (On the Alcohol)

Blame It (On the Alcohol) was written and produced by Jamie Foxx and was nominated for a Grammy Award. In fact, the song won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Blame It (On the Alcohol) is part of the R&B/soul genre and has lyrics like “Blame it on the ‘Tron” that reference alcohol. In the song, ‘Tron is a reference to Patron, which is a type of tequila. Other types of alcohol mentioned in the song include vodka and Hennessy. 

Ultimately, Blame It (On the Alcohol) is about blaming mistakes on alcohol. The song also has lyrics that cover topics like cheating on spouses, partying, and sex. Blame It (On the Alcohol) has also been released by other bands like Of Mice and Men in 2010. Blame It (On the Alcohol) can be found on Jamie Foxx’s album Intuition or Of Mice and Men’s album Punk Goes Pop Volume 03. The Of Mice and Men version of the song is part of the alternative or Punk genre, compared to Jamie Foxx’s pop rendition of Blame It (On the Alcohol).

8. Buy You a Drank, (Shawty Snappin’)

Buy You a Drank (Shawty Snappin’) is a well-known song by T-Pain. The song was released in 2007 on the album epiphany and also features Yung Joc. Buy You a Drank (Shawty Snappin’) is known for its R&B-style beat with hip-hop lyrics. The song references alcohol several times with one of the most popular lines being “Let me talk to you, let me buy you a drink.”

Buy You a Drank (Shawty Snappin’) is about more than alcohol. In fact, it’s about alcohol, drugs, and hanging out with women. The themes in the song glorify drug and alcohol use and suggest that life is more fun with drugs and alcohol. T-Pain is also known for producing music with similar themes. Plus, many songs on the epiphany album have themes of drugs and alcohol. Buy You a Drank (Shawty Snappin’) is also about having a good time, dancing, and partying.

9. You and Tequila

You and Tequila is a country song released by Kenny Chesney and Grace Porter. The song can be found on the album Hemingway’s whiskey and it was first released in 2010. Chesney and Porter use a country tone to sing about love, life, and alcohol in the song. Several lyrics reference alcohol usage, romance, and hanging around in canyons. A great example are the lyrics, “Cause you and tequila make me crazy.”

You and Tequila is about more than drinking alcohol. While tequila is a central theme in the song, it’s also about a man who loves a woman. In the song, the woman drives him crazy, especially when she drinks the alcoholic beverage tequila. You and Tequila also references drug use. The lyrics, “Hell Bent on getting high” reflect this.

10. Drunk On a Plane

Drunk on a Plane is a country song written by Dierks Bentley. While it’s a country song, it belongs to the modern country genre, which is different from classic country music. Drunk on a Plane was released in 2014 on the album Riser. In the song, Bentley sings about drinking alcohol on a plane and having a party in the sky. Bentley is drinking on the plane because he couldn’t get a refund for the tickets he purchased for his honeymoon.

Some of the lyrics directly reference drinking on a plane. The lyrics “Buyin’ drinks for everybody But the pilot, it’s a party,” for example, suggest that the singer is drinking on a plane. Drunk on a Plane also references specific alcoholic beverages. Some lyrics focus on drinks like champagne and whiskey mixed with coke. Overall, it’s a song about a sad story but it has an uplifting tone. The alcohol in the song is used as a coping mechanism to deal with loss.

11. Beer for My Horses

Beer for My Horses is a country song written by Toby Kieth. While Toby Kieth is the primary artist of the song, Willie Nelson is also a featured artist. Beer for My Horses was released for the first time in 2002 and has remained popular since its release. That said, Beer for My Horses was one of the most popular songs in the early 2000s when it came out. Beer for My Horses can be found on Toby Kieth’s album Unleashed, which features many songs like Beer For My Horses.

In the song, there are several themes. Primarily, the song is about crime and being a man. Lyrics like “Cause justice is one thing you should always find” point to justice being the central theme of Beer for My Horses. Still, there is an emphasis on alcohol in the song. The lyrics “Whiskey for my men, beer for my horses” highlights alcohol throughout the song. Plus, lyrics about alcohol can be found in the song’s name and chorus.

12. Sunshine and Whiskey

Sunshine and Whiskey was written by Frankie Ballard in 2014. When the song was released, it became one of the top-performing songs in the country-pop genre. Sunshine and Whiskey is about whiskey and comparing the combination of sunshine and whiskey to a woman. For example, the lyrics “Every time you kiss me it’s like sunshine and whiskey,” suggest that kissing someone is comparable to the feeling someone has when they’re in the sun and drinking whiskey.

That said, Sunshine and Whiskey is written as a romantic song. Many of the key themes in the song reference love, beautiful people, and happiness. However, Frankie Ballard’s use of whiskey and other types of alcohol in the song is clear. For this reason, alcohol is also the main theme in Sunshine and Whiskey. Sunshine and Whiskey can be found on Frankie Ballard’s album, Sunshine and Whiskey. The album shares the name with the name of the song, so alcohol is a theme in a lot of Frankie Ballard’s music.

13. Tequila

Tequila is a country-pop song that was released on January 10, 2018. The song was written by the country duo Dan and Shay. In the song, the singers sing about drinking many types of alcohol. Some examples include red wine, whiskey, and tequila. However, the artists suggest that tequila is a more intense type of alcohol with the lyrics, “When I taste tequila” and “But when I taste tequila, baby I still see ya.” These lyrics suggest that tequila is a more potent type of alcohol that’s more intense than beer, wine, and other types of liquor.

There is also a song named Tequila by The Champs, which was released in 1958. Tequila, performed by The Champs, was a Latin-flavored rock song. The song was performed by an orchestra and has limited lyrics. For example, the only lyrics in the song is the singer shouting “Tequila.” Ultimately, Tequila is about drinking tequila.

14. Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound

Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound is an older country song that was released in 1979. While it’s close to modern country music, it also has some folk music sounds in it. Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound was written by Hank Williams Jr. and can be found on his album Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound, which shares the same name as the song. In the song, Williams writes about his girlfriend and how she’s a good woman. The song is also about the mischief that he gets into when he drinks whiskey and goes out at night.

Some lyrics in the song are the same as the title. For example, the lyrics “And I’ll get whiskey bent and hell bound” share most of the words with the title. When stating those lyrics Williams is talking about how whiskey gets him drunk and makes him act differently. Based on the phrase “hell-bound,” Williams becomes reckless and dangerous when under the influence of alcohol like whiskey.

What Role Does Alcohol Play in Music Culture?

Alcohol usage in music culture has led to the glorification of alcohol and other drugs. Studies from the Social Learning Model reflect that people who are exposed to drinking alcohol in music are more likely to drink alcohol. This is because people learn based on past experiences and exposure to modeled behavior. For this reason, musicians that sing about alcohol increase the risk that people will consume alcohol. 

When someone idolizes someone, it’s not uncommon for them to follow their behavior patterns. If a musician sings about doing drugs or drinking large quantities of alcohol, the people who listen to the music are more likely to engage in that behavior. Studies have found that hip hop, country, and pop genres have the biggest impact on culture. Country, pop, and hip hop also make the most references to drugs and alcohol.

Alcohol also became popular in culture because of clever advertising. More often than not, alcohol companies will pay musicians to use the name brand of alcohol in their music. For example, more than 50% of songs that reference whiskey have lyrics that say Jack Daniel’s Whiskey. This applies to most brands, including beer and wine.

Therefore, musicians and alcohol companies can encourage people to drink alcohol and influence their alcohol choices. These cultural references don’t stop with music, either. Many television shows, movies, and other types of entertainment glorify alcohol.

Who is at Risk of Alcoholism?

Young people (under 21) are at the most at-risk of developing alcoholism after listening to music. Adolescents and teenagers who grow up in homes with alcoholic parents also have an increased risk of developing an alcohol abuse disorder. 

In cases where alcoholic parents are involved, the risk is two-fold. Being around alcohol from a young age raises the risk of alcohol dependency but alcoholism can also be hereditary. Therefore, having parents who abuse alcohol is an indicator that alcoholism runs in the family.

So, why is alcohol addictive? It’s addictive because it causes chemical changes in the brain. Neurotransmitters responsible for serotonin become dependent on alcohol, so when the brain lacks alcohol it craves it. 

Additionally, people who abuse alcohol struggle with symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. While alcohol withdrawal varies on a case-by-case basis, alcohol withdrawal can lead to many uncomfortable symptoms that range from stomach discomfort to shaking and tremors. 

It’s also important to note that alcohol withdrawal can lead to death and mental health disorders if it’s not treated properly.

What is the Effect of Alcohol on Performance?

Alcohol can take the edge off when performing music live but it doesn’t increase a musician’s performance. In fact, alcohol makes it more challenging to perform because of how it interacts with the body. Alcohol forces the body to produce more mucus, which can clog the mouth and throat. Clearing the throat can make live performances more challenging.

Alcohol can also impact performances in other ways. It can make it harder to remember song lyrics and impair a musician’s judgment. Alcohol can also lead to vomiting and nausea when blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches more than .08%. 

For these reasons, musicians who perform music under the influence of alcohol perform worse than musicians who perform music sober.

Why Do Musicians Get Obsessed with Alcohol?

Musicians are frequently surrounded by people who are drinking alcohol, which makes it tempting for them to consume alcohol. People who work in the music industry also have stressful jobs and use alcohol as a coping mechanism for stress and other mental health disorders. For example, alcohol can take the edge off when musicians are performing in front of thousands of people. 

Genres like rap and country are also known for praising alcohol because of its euphoric effects. Musicians also become obsessed with other drugs like marijuana, opioids, and even cocaine. Additionally, some musicians suggest that performing live is enhanced by being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Ultimately, the fast-paced lifestyle and frequent traveling are linked to increased substance abuse.

Is Alcohol the Worst Drug?

Yes, alcohol is the worst drug. According to data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol causes more than 80,000 deaths per year. While other drugs are dangerous, deaths from drugs other than alcohol only account for 30,000 deaths per year. Therefore, alcohol causes 50,000 more deaths per year than every other drug combined.

So, what is alcoholism? Alcoholism is a substance abuse disorder that occurs when someone becomes addicted to alcohol. Alcohol abuse can impact someone’s career, lead to social problems, financial challenges, and even death.

Alcohol is also the worst drug because it’s more accessible than other drugs. Once someone reaches the legal drinking age they can purchase alcohol from many locations and go to bars or restaurants that sell alcohol. Because alcohol is popular among adults and featured in many parts of society, it’s one of the most abused drugs in the world.

The Journal of Addiction also has numerous studies that provide insight into alcohol’s danger. One study found that alcohol is linked to 7 types of cancer. Additionally, alcohol damages the liver, kidneys, digestive tract, and brain. Alcohol-related brain damage can also increase the risk of dementia and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome.

Alcohol can also cause harm because of impaired judgment. People who abuse alcohol have an increased risk of poor decision-making which can lead to driving while under the influence (DUI). DUIs account for more than 11,000 driving-related deaths each year and 32 people (on average) die from drunk driving accidents each year.