A Comparison of Ageist Lyrics in Country and Pop Music Genres: An Important Difference

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Brummer, Karen
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Middle Tennessee State University
This study examined the lyrics of American country and pop music for an understanding of the perceptions and implied truths related to the concept of aging. A review was made of the limited prior research available regarding ageist lyrics as well as prior research exposing the consequences of the use of ageist stereotypes. Songs for this study were selected from the Billboard Top 100 lists for the past 10 years with a total of 33 songs containing either an implicit or explicit reference to aging: 16 country and 17 pop songs. Using a qualitative content analysis approach, song lyrics in each genre were evaluated in terms of positive and negative attitudes related to aging. Recurring themes of optimism, pessimism, acceptance, fear, vitality, loss, respect, and love expectations were found. Conclusions drawn from this research study indicate the majority of country song lyrics present images of aging in a positive light, whereas pop song lyrics continue to focus on negative stereotypes. Based on this observation and research provided on the negative consequences of reinforced stereotypes, my research demonstrates the potential victimization of us all as we age if negative stereotypes with respect to aging are perpetuated in music, especially in the pop genre.
Ageism, Ageist, Aging, Lyrics, Stereotypes, Cultural anthropology, Music, Sociology