A favorite theme in songs with lyrics from the French musical repertoire or in international hits, alcohol is mentioned less and less in music. According to a study, references to drunkenness, and more broadly to alcohol, are less present in British pop in recent years. One of the main reasons? Young people would no longer be interested in alcohol.
Alcohol has long inspired singers
“Ah, the little white wine!“If it is the first musical occurrence referring to alcohol that we think of, the famous musette waltz sung by Lina Margy is far from being the only one. Throughout the 20th century, artists sang of the pleasure caused by the molecule whether it is in wine, beer or other beverages with a stronger strength. In the repertoire of Jacques Brel for example, this is a recurring theme, and not only with regard to the famous sailors of the port from “Amsterdam”. In his song “A Jeun”, the Belgian legend recounts not only the consequences of drinking alcohol but also the way in which drinking accompanies a bruised daily life. In the same way, Graeme Allwright sang the ravages of alcoholism in the famous title “Holy bottle” just as the theme was also addressed by Serge Gainsbourg. And it is not a favorite subject only for French and European artists.
Alcohol constitutes a major element in the lyrical inspiration of the various trends of rock’n’roll. Kurt Cobain and Nirvana did not simply sing it, they asserted the idea that drinking was an essential element of life, as in “Beans”, sometimes to the point of obsession with the song “alcohol”. For their part, Guns N’Roses paid homage to their favorite wine in “Nightrain” while Australian rockers AC/DC invited people to share a drink in “Have a drink on me”.
In the same way that cigarettes were considered a “cool” accessory at the end of the Second World War, alcohol has long displayed a similar image in many musical repertoires. Except that we would have reached a cultural turning point when we decipher the biggest hits of the British pop scene since 2012. This is all the work carried out in a study by the Dash Water brand and revealed by the professional portal Foodnavigator.
Drunkenness increasingly absent from the charts
By analyzing the lyrics of the ten biggest hits each year from 2012 to 2022 in the British charts, we notice that references to drunkenness, if not to drinking, have fallen by 79% since 2017. Between 2021 and 2022 alone , the study suggests a decline of 40%. The phenomenon is recent since in 2017 this analysis identified that half of the titles selected for this study made a link with alcohol. According to this decryption, there would be a link with the lower propensity of the younger generation to consume alcohol.
In the United Kingdom, one in five young people under the age of 25 say they do not consume alcohol according to a Drinkaware study. In Europe too, we observe this phenomenon. The first intake of alcohol occurs later and later. In its latest report, the Observatory of Drugs and Addictive Tendencies indicates that only 4.4% of young people aged 17 in 2002 had never had a drink, compared to 14.4% in 2017. In a publication dating from 2008, Santé Publique Europe already demonstrated an overall drop in the frequency of alcohol consumption among young people. In 2005, it was estimated that only 12% of them had regular alcohol consumption, compared to 15% in 2003.
However, we cannot say that alcohol has become completely has-been to the extent that episodes of drunkenness still constitute unfortunate situations existing particularly among young regular drinkers, according to the latest report from the OFDT.
Non-alcoholic drinks are increasingly appealing to the French
In this context, a new line of drinks containing no, if not very little, alcohol, structures a new offer which supports this societal phenomenon with great dynamism, removing this “cool” image from drunkenness.
If young people, the famous Generation Z, are on the front line, the change in habits regarding alcohol consumption is broader. In a study published last September, panelist NielseniQ indicated that non-alcoholic drinks were increasingly appealing to the French to the point that 52% planned to reduce their consumption over the next twelve months.
At aperitif time, mocktails (41%) – the non-alcoholic version of cocktails – are the preferred choice before beer (34%). A new preference to be grasped in a context where wine consumption in Europe has fallen from 120 liters per year to less than 40 liters in the space of 60 years.