DRUG References in Pop CuLtUre

We already have the facts, we are a little behind with shop reviews, but I think we finally deserve some entertainment on RC SCENE !

Since we cannot yet build a forum, because there are only few volunteers for managing it and I would neither find the time nor was I ever dreaming of deleting spam, we will try a start with the comment section and music instead.

Usually I would write something about the history of drug references in pop history, something about the The Beatles and their LSD hommage, mentioning Snoop Dogg’s great golfing skills (his advantage: he just knows everything about weed, including how to play on it) – well, this time I will just quote a 12-years-old article from the New York Times:

Under the Influence of…Music?
One in three popular songs contains explicit references to drug or alcohol use, according to a new report (1) (2) (3) in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. That means kids are receiving about 35 references to substance abuse for every hour of music they listen to, the authors determined.

While songs about drugs and excess are nothing new, the issue is getting more attention because so many children now have regular access to music out of the earshot of parents. Nearly 9 out of 10 adolescents and teens have an MP3 player or a compact disc player in their bedrooms. [..]

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine studied the 279 most popular songs from 2005, based on reports from Billboard magazine, which tracks popular music. Whether a song contained a reference to drugs or alcohol varied by genre. Only 9 percent of pop songs had lyrics relating to drugs or alcohol. The number jumped to 14 percent for rock songs, 20 percent for R&B and hip-hop songs, 36 percent for country songs and 77 percent for rap songs.

Notably, smoking references aren’t that common in music today, with only 3 percent of the songs portraying tobacco use. About 14 percent of songs spoke of marijuana use, 24 percent depicted alcohol use, and another 12 percent included reference to other substances. About 4 percent of the songs contained “anti” drug and alcohol messages.

The study authors noted that music represents a pervasive source of exposure to positive images of substance use. The average adolescent is exposed to approximately 84 references to explicit substance use per day and 591 references per week, or 30,732 references per year. The average adolescent listening only to pop would be exposed to 5 references per day, whereas the average adolescent who listens just to rap would be exposed to 251 references per day.

Whether any of this matters remains an open question.
The New York Times: Tara Parker-Pope on February 5, 2008

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Further reads and inspiration:

Let’s play !

If you post links to YouTube videos, to movie scenes, or music clips, in the comment section below the article, these will be automatically be embedded. So this could become like a playlist. Add songs you like. I will try to update a Spotify playlist with your songs and someday maybe re-write this text here, discussing the songs posted, and share thoughts about how recreational drug use is not hidden anymore but has become a standard theme in some music styles, but actually, has it not had been like this forever already?

Also just mentioning movies or songs is okay! I will try to find them to embed them.

Please post the media, add the Name <strong>(band, song, movie)</strong> and please explain where the reference is hidden. Maybe explain it, so that everyone will see the reference. You could also explain why you like this song. I am curious! Language or style do not matter, but in taste we trust 😉

Your songs in the playlist
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14 responses to “DRUG References in Pop CuLtUre”

  1. The Chemical Brothers – The Test
    / Can you hear me now, / am I coming through? / sounds sweet and is just another way of putting /Break on Through / to the other side/ by The Doors. Richard Ashcroft never sang better!

    Comes with a trippy video:

    1. The doors – Break On Through
      ….to the other side. That’s what Psychonauts are trying to. If you make it, better have a tripsitter with you!


  2. Cold War Kids – Hang me up to try

    This is obviously about alcohol abuse that became a problem and was once dedicated to Liam Gallagher. The song uses a very pictorial language which I like a lot. I hope I got the lyrics right…


  3. Placebo – Special K

    / No hesitation, no courage, / you come on up / just like special K. /
    Special K both describes Kellogg’s cereal flakes as well as Ketamine, which is a Dissso.


  4. Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit

    Describes the tour the force Alice in Wonderland was experiencing: / One pill makes your larger / and one pill makes you small. / And the ones that mother gives you / don’t do anything at all.

    Also, this is the song that the lawyer in the movie “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is listening to, after he had eaten all XTC at once and decided to take a bath with his clothes still on. “MUSIC !”


  5. FIDLAR – No Waves
    I feel, feel like a crackhead
    I feel, feel like I’m not gonna make it no more
    ‘Cause I’m on the floor
    Just pick me up and give me some more

    I feel, feel like I’m a grandpa
    I feel, feel like I’m already 80 years old

    This song describes a drug psychosis sneaking from behind. I also once lay on the floor and thought I had become an old man. That feeling lasted a few hours and believe it or not, I found it fun, although I could not differentiate between reality and psychosis anymore. I could not tell what would have been real.


  6. Mark Lanegan – Methamphetamine Blues
    The line / Keep your eyes wide open and my shotgun loaded / ‘Cause I don’t want to leave this heaven so soon / somehow remind me of Kurt Cobain who injected himself an immense amount of heroin and then blew his head off with a shotgun. / ‘Cause I don’t want to leave this heaven so soon / leaves me puzzled. A lovely line, the song seems to be a dialogue, but who would be this heaven to him? His children and family or rather methamphetamine?


  7. Baxter Dury – Cocaine Man
    This was the first song I heard in 2018, it was number one in my Spotify recommendations. I do not really get the lyrics, but I think he is singing about how certain substances may change your taste in clothes etc. Also, I think parts of the song describe typical psychotic episodes caused by uppers where you would do the craziest things. I like this song very much.


  8. Marilyn Manson . Dissociative
    / I can never get out of here / I don’t wanna just float in fear / A dead astronaut in space /
    The title and these lines might speak for themselves. Great video clip for an intense song of which there are not too many. / Another system’s down !


  9. Slim Twig – Cannabis
    I don’t even know if this song has lyrics, they must have hid the drug reference somewhere else.

    Super cool video clip !


  10. Afroman – Because I Got High
    Kids, have a look at Afroman: Sports and a healthy lifestyle including Ajurveda meals may make you so high on life that you will smile all day long!

    A funny classic also for fans of rock guitars.


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