In 2012 rapper, Kendrick Lamar released his single, Swimming Pools, which peaked Billboard charts at number 25. In his song he talks about people who “live their lives in bottles.” He says, “Some people like the way it feels, some people want to kill their sorrows, some people want to fit in with the popular, that was my problem.” Kendrick Lamar was by no means alone in using alcohol as a way to fit in. Studies by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism show that in 2009, about 10.4 million young people between ages 12-20 drank more than “just a few sips” of alcohol. Studies have also shown that on avaerage, young people have about five drinks on a single occasion. This is considered binge drinking and is addressed in the hook of Lamar’s song as the question is asked, “Why you babysittin’ only two or three shots? I’ma show you how to turn it up a notch”. Near the end of the song, we hear a conversation that takes place between Kendrick and his conscience. He is warned that if he doesn’t stop, he is going to die. Every year, 5,000 people under the age of 21 die due to alcohol-related incidents. This song, while explicit in language, takes a very different approach when it comes to alcohol references in music, but Kendrick isn’t the only one sounding off on alcohol abuse.
In 2014, a song entitled, Chandelier, by singer, Sia peaked Billboard charts at number 8. Unlike Kendrick Lamar, Sia’s reason for drinking isn’t centered around being popular. Sia wants to “kill her sorrows”. Chandelier opens with this verse, “Party girls don’t get hurt. Can’t feel anything. When will I learn? I push it down, push it down.” She is using alcohol to numb whatever pain she was feeling before she began drinking that night. She then continues, “I’m the one for a good time call. Phone’s blowin’ up, ringing my door bell. I feel the love…” She not only uses alcohol to to cover up her pain, but also sex as a way to feel loved; which is no coincidence since, drinking causes impaired judgement and leads to poor decision making. Sia echoes the notion of binge drinking in the pre-chorus, singing, “throw ’em back ’till I lose count.”
Whether you’re drinking to fit in or you’re trying to mask a deeper problem, you are compromising your values to become someone another person will like. Once you start sacrificing yourself to become someone you’re not, it gets harder and harder to find your true identity. Alcohol provides a false since of contentment, once it’s gone you’re left feeling worse than you did before. Sia illustrates this well in verse two, “Sun is up. I’m a mess. Gotta get out now. Gotta run from this. Here comes the shame, here comes the shame.” Remember Proverbs 23:20, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” -NIV