Does Country Get Just a Little Too Drunk?

church-793x525As someone whose family is in the alcohol business, I have no problem with the free advertisement that country music gives to drinking, but has it become a problem? With songs ranging from Dierks Bentley’s “Drunk on a Plane” to Kip Moore’s “Beer Money” and Roger Creager’s “The Everclear Song,” it is clear that alcohol remains a common theme in modern country music. However, songs that used to be about sitting around having a casual beer with friends have now arguably turned into songs that “promote” drinking to get drunk and binge drinking.

Many believe this common and previously unquestioned theme in country music has recently become a cause of concern. In the past several years, there have been an increase in alcohol related arrests and deaths at popular country artists performances. With the rise of what many have termed “bro-country,” songs about partying, drinking and girls, Rolling Stone has noticed a significant trend in the charts that some believe may be leading to unruliness. Of Billboard’s Top 100 Hot Country Songs of 2014, 69 of the songs had references to drinking with at least 12 of those having some sort of alcohol reference in the title.

Another cause for concern is that with the increase in young country fans, thanks to artist like Taylor Swift, country fans attending concerts are getting younger. Country used to cater to a middle-age crowd, but it is now beginning to target a much younger crowd that wants upbeat, fast-paced, rock-charged songs they can blast through speakers at a pre-game or tailgate. Many feel the surge of young concert goers combined with the growth of pre-concert tailgating have lead to an increase of underage drinking cases at concerts.

With alcohol related incidents increasing and the age of the average country concert goer decreasing, some worry that the music might be the source of the issue. So, what is the real problem? The actual music or the fans?

I don’t think the music is the issue. While many of the lyrics in current country songs, such as in Little Big Town’s song “Day Drinking,” do portray drinking as an easy way to feel good and have some fun, it is ultimately the fans who are taking the lyrics to heart and abusing alcohol. Drinking is not new to country music, and the songs are simply supposed to be a source of enjoyment—not dictate your life choices.

I love going to a tailgate or pre-game and listening to country music, which inevitably means listening to quite a few songs about alcohol. While I do love listening to these songs at a tailgate, changing the genre of music would not change how much I drink. That decision is internally motivated. When I listen to country songs while on a road trip home, I am not tempted to start drinking in the car.

Ultimately what has happened is that country artist are beginning to cater to a younger demographic. That younger demographic already has a habit of binge drinking in general regardless of their musical preference. Consequently whether it be at a rave, a rap concert, or even a country concert, young audience members are watching their friends and peers drink and inevitably follow their example. It is not the music it is the fans.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Bro Country, New Country

10 Responses to Does Country Get Just a Little Too Drunk?

  1. Kevin Lefkowitz

    The biggest question is always how much societal influences actually impact a person’s life. I think you are correct when you say that this is a result of trying to cater to the young fans and their alcohol related songs is not the cause of their actions. That said, I disagree on the level of influence songs have though. I think there are several high schoolers who are susceptible to musical influences and they start associating drinking with fun at an age when peer pressure is high. Thats not to say they wouldn’t drink anyway, I just think it helps create more young drinkers. Overall, this was a very well thought out post! Great job!

  2. Shira Yoram

    Super interesting blog post. I would like to think that we as young adults are not too highly influenced by drinking songs. It is more of a social construct for why college kids drink. And I believe that these songs are just the ones we may choose listen to while drinking. However, I do have to say, a song like “Drunk On A Plane” made me want to experience being drunk on a plane. Even thought he song itself is about a pretty sad story, the melody and upbeat rhythm do make it sound kinda fun. So I would have to agree with you that music isn’t the issue when it comes to peers our age drinking, its really our choices whether or not to let it influence you.

  3. Adrian Ortiz

    I really enjoyed reading this post. I most definitely agree that it is definitely the fans fault especially since country music is not new to the theme of alcohol. I believe it is your own fault if you allow these songs to influence you to drink. Yes, a lot of country songs especially newer ones encourage drinking, but like you said, it is only a source of enjoyment and just because they are the songs we listen to when we drink does not mean we are being influenced by it. Anyway, great post.

  4. Timothy Harakal

    Lottie – interesting post! I think you make an interesting argument with the fact that a large part of the problem is that the listeners are becoming younger and thereby getting exposed to alcohol more at a younger age. Your point that it’s not the “genre’s” fault is something I also totally agree with. Whether someone decides to drink or not (no matter their age or how much) is definitely up to that specific individual. Does country music influence them? Just like you said – of course! But it’s up to individual listeners to determine just how much they will let what they hear influence what they do. Great read!

  5. Mackenzi McAfee

    This brings up a very important issue in country music and in society today. I agree with you that it is mostly the responsibility of fans to avoid underage drinking or drinking too much, but where do we draw the line? If all thats heard on country radio (69/100 songs is a huge percentage) is about drinking and partying, that definitely influences people and could become a lifestyle. Lets just hope country artists decide one day that there are way too many songs out involving drinking and they want to make a change. But then again, everyone loves those songs so maybe there’s another solution! You did a great job bringing up this topic and I enjoyed reading your opinion!

  6. Tyler King

    I agree. Even though I really enjoy most of these songs you listed, I understand though what you mean about them becoming too much about drinking and not exactly about the casual drinking like it used to be. I think the reason that this change has happened is because they are trying to reach a newer, younger audience that is just being able to drink alcohol legally and they love songs about it. Most of these songs are very catchy and that is another reason why they have caught on more and why you’re seeing more songs about drinking.

  7. Joseph Schooling

    I really enjoyed reading this post and I couldn’t agree with you more. I understand what you’re trying to say when it comes to people’s decision to drink and what not. I think these songs have an alcohol context in it on purpose because it probably helps them sell songs. At the end of the day, these people going to concerts/drinking should be old enough to make their own decisions. Today, I can’t think of very many genres that don’t have alcohol/drugs in the lyrics. In general, I feel like if you’re choosing to go to a concert, you should be able to make your own choices and live with whatever comes with it. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Cassidy Wilson

    My family is in the alcohol business as well, but I wouldn’t say too many country songs reference wine specifically, haha. I think this is a very relevant issue in country music but I do agree that the responsibility is on the fans. I love a lot of the songs that you have mentioned but it doesn’t give make me feel like I HAVE to drink right then and there. Compared to rap music at least country music handles the issue of drinking in a semi-light hearted way. Don’t get me wrong there are many songs that say differently but there is definitely way less cussing or drug abuse in country music compared to rap. I agree with your post, the music should not be blamed. Fans must take responsibility for their own actions. Overall, I think this was a very good post that brings up an important issue.

  9. Lee Allen

    Great job with click-bait. I couldn’t stay away from the title when I saw it, and had to read more. You’re right, maybe some artists are emphasizing drinking too much, and are slowly making it a hazard to be at their concerts…but after all, it is the fans who take songs too literally and try to mimic the lyrics that they hear. I think some people may shout out lyrics and chug a beer more often to a song that is inclining them to do so, and though it’s not the artists fault, it’s just how it is! At the end of the day, country music will always be a cold beer type of music, but maybe they are abusing that alcohol reputation too much. Good post!

  10. Mae

    This was a really great post and I’m glad it was brought up. Growing up i’ve always associated beer and drinking with country music, but i’ve never questioned it. The fact of the matter is that the country music genre has over the years created such a partying image, different from the rave scene, but just as much of a party centered nature. I always find myself having a really good time at a tailgate or at a ranch with good country tunes and an ice cold beer, but i’ve never really questioned why those two go so well hand in hand. I definitely agree that because this genre of music appeals to audiences of all ages, it is encouraging more alcoholism from younger ages, but I have to say that there is a certain theme in country music that is much more traditional and almost innocent compared to the scariness associated with rap, hip hop and rave music genres that encourage way more than just drinking. Alcohol is a problem in the media industry and the fact that it is a huge selling theme is kind of scary. good post!

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