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Increase in Self-Promotion in Pop Music

This shouldn't come as a surprise, but a new study reports self-regard, self-promotion, and plain old bragging are far more prominent in pop music than they were a quarter-century ago. The authors of the study note that, in 1990, blatant bragging was basically confined to rap music. The study analyzed the lyrics of the top 100 songs from the years 1990, 2000, and 2010, as compiled by Billboard magazine. Coders looked for examples of eight categories of self-promotion, including referring to oneself by name and demanding respect.

The study concluded:

Compared with earlier years, songs in 2010 were more likely to include the singer referring to the self by name, general self-promotion, and bragging about wealth, partner's appearance, or sexual prowess. A similar, albeit nonsignificant increase, was also seen for bragging about musical prowess and demands for respect.

The researchers added a warning:

Music both reflects and influences the values of the culture. The hit songs we listen to "both represent the increasing individualistic/narcissistic tendencies in the culture, but also further convey that promoting oneself through bragging, demands for respect, and self-focus is acceptable … [Therefore], parents, educators, and those responsible for policy should consider how strongly individualistic messages influence young people and work to provide messages and opportunities that also advocate communal values.

Possible Preaching Angles: Although the conclusions to this study seem obvious, the comments from the researchers should challenge parents and churches to provide an alternative to this example of self-promotion.

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