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A list of songs used by torturers

A HUGE NIGHTMARE has descended on Hong Kong. Yes, a new Y.U.U. song.

Last year, the first song promoting the Y.U.U. shoppers’ loyalty card was played on a loop in thousands of shops for months, causing utter misery for shoppers and, surely, a major retail crisis.

The new Y.U.U. song (“YUU to me”) is 80 seconds long and is being played back-to-back in every branch of Wellcome supermarket and associated stores. By my calculations, that’s about 600 plays a day, more than 4,000 a week, multiplied by 2,500 outlets, which adds up to 10 million plays a week. I’m tempted to go live in a soundproof room at Penny’s Bay isolation center.

This surely contravenes the Geneva Convention on Torture, which includes the repeated playing of songs (I am not making this up).


This unhappy shopper was reminded of Manuel Noriega, the first person to be officially tortured by music.

I say officially, because the first people to be UNofficially tortured by music were my parents. When I was three, our domestic helper taught me how to use the record player and I played my only disc (Like I Do by Nancy Sinatra, stolen from my big sister) for hours until my parents promised me anything.

As a toddler, my needs were few: ice cream, toys, my own credit card, a Ferarri Spider with whitewall tyres and a vacation home on the Cote D’Azure. (Thanks, Nancy!)

Noriega survived numerous gun battles and wars in South America. But in 1989 troops in Panama blasted him with a Rick Astley single (“Never Gonna Give You Up”). He dropped his guns and came out shellshocked. Who wouldn’t? (I’m not making this up. This was the origin of the rise of that song to mega-stardom.)

Rick Astley helped Noriega give himself up. Picture by Choo Chin Nian/ Wikimedia Commons

In 1997, a police chief in Hong Kong tried the same trick, but flubbed it. He trucked in huge speakers and blasted a protest group (of which I was a supporter at the time) with music. Unfortunately, he chose a rather good recording of Beethoven’s Fifth (I think it was Carlos Kleiber conducting the Vienna Philharmonic). Everyone stayed put and hummed along.

In 2003, US soldiers tortured suspects in Guantanamo Bay by playing loud music for days non-stop. Here’s the playlist.

First they scared them with a creepy song, “Enter Sandman” by Metallica.

Then they disturbed them with “Bodies” by Drowning Pool, which consists largely of a man screaming: “Let the BODIES hit the FLOOR.”

But they finally broke their spirits with the Barney theme song played for hours at top volume on a loop: “I love you; you love me; we’re a happy family, with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you. Won’t you say you love me too?”

Again, some will say that I am making this up, but it’s all true.

When Metallica’s James Hetfield was asked whether he minded his songs being used for torture, he told reporters: “We’ve been punishing our parents, our wives, our loved ones with this music forever. Why should the Iraqis be any different?”

Barney would no doubt say the same thing.

Y.U.U. campaigns strike fear into the hearts of every Hong Kong shopper. Photo: Handout


Personally, I would like to see ALL wars fought with pop music from now on.

If the United States or Britain or NATO comes to Asia and tries to intimidate others, we give them an ultimatum. Say sorry like you mean it within three days or we hit you with “I’m a Barbie Girl” by Aqua.

Miss the deadline and we unleash Asian “earworms” such as India’s Hasseena Maan Jaayegi on you.

Fail to surrender and we roll out the Cantopop’s Hacken Lee. The ultimate weapon, the new generation Hiroshima bomb, would be Britney Spears’ version of “Satisfaction”.

Hang on. Come to think of it, maybe nuclear weapons are preferable. They are not so painful and cause less long-term damage to the planet.


I mentioned all this in the coffee shop and a guy said: “Scientists are working on creating the most unlistenable song ever.”

I asked what it was called.

He said: “Anything by Justin Bieber.” I would agree with that, although my daughters wouldn’t.


A thought has just occurred to me. The Y.U.U. people say their main aim is to encourage home delivery services. By playing their horrible music on a loop in their shops, I can no longer enter the Wellcome supermarket.

So I have to order from home.

Devious but clever. The bad guys win.

Image a the top singers by Darkrider/ Unsplash

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