The Torture Playlist

The songs that American guards and interrogators used to torture detainees.


Music has been used in American military prisons and on bases to induce sleep deprivation, “prolong capture shock,” disorient detainees during interrogations—and also drown out screams. Based on a leaked interrogation log, news reports, and the accounts of soldiers and detainees, here are some of the songs that guards and interrogators chose. Read about the guards here.

Deicide: Fuck Your God

Dope: Die MF Die, Take Your Best Shot

Eminem: White America, Kim

Barney & Friends: theme song

Drowning Pool: Bodies

Metallica: Enter Sandman

Meow Mix: commercial jingle

Janeane Garofalo/Ben Stiller: chapter from the Feel This Audiobook

Sesame Street: theme song

David Gray: Babylon

AC/DC: Shoot to Thrill, Hell’s Bells

Bee Gees: Stayin’ Alive

Tupac: All Eyez On Me

Christina Aguilera: Dirrty

Neil Diamond: America

Rage Against the Machine: unspecified songs

Don McLean: American Pie

Saliva: Click Click Boom

Matchbox Twenty: Cold

(hed)pe: Swan Dive

Prince: Raspberry Beret

Bonus: Listen to investigative reporter Justine Sharrock explain why the Meow Mix jingle, Neil Diamond, and the Barney theme song all lend themselves to “no-touch torture.” Plus: How Metallica reacted when they found out how their music was being used. —Gary Moskowitz

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  • Justine Sharrock is a former Mother Jones staffer. Her most recent book is Tortured: How Our Cowardly Leaders Abused Prisoners, American Soldiers, and Everything We're Fighting For. For more of her stories, click here.