The Ultimate ‘Do Not Play in Prison’ Playlist, and Some Safer Suggestions

Cells of the new penitentiary in Reau, East of Paris,
Photo: BERTRAND GUAY/Getty Images

Yesterday the U.S. Bureau of Prisons announced that it would move forward with a plan to allow thousands of inmates access to MP3 players and music from a pre-approved list of about one million songs. “The MP3 program is intended to help inmates deal with issues such as idleness, stress and boredom associated with incarceration,” said a spokesperson. The Recording Industry Association of America’s content ratings system will work to keep out “explicit” tracks that “may disrupt the good and orderly running of the institution,” including obscene or racially charged lyrics. The following playlist should probably never make it behind bars.

Wham!, “Freedom”

N.W.A., “Fuck Tha Police”

Toots & the Maytals, “54-46 (That’s My Number)”

AC/DC, “Jailbreak”

Wyclef Jean, “Gone Till November”

Johnny Cash, “Folsom Prison Blues”

Nas, “One Love”

Elvis Presley, “Jailhouse Rock”

2Pac, “Out on Bail”

Nina Simone, “I Shall Be Released”

As good as the above may be, they just don’t seem right for the environment, and so we’d like to offer up these positive, remorseful, or otherwise totally innocuous alternatives:

The Police, “Every Breath You Take”

The Clash, “I Fought the Law”

Katrina & The Waves, “Walking on Sunshine”

Patsy Cline, “So Wrong”

Nirvana, “All Apologies (Unplugged)”

Tchaikovsky, “Waltz of the Snowflakes”

Michael Jackson, “Man in the Mirror”

Various Artists, “We Are the World”

Akon, “Sorry, Blame It On Me”

The Beatles, “Let It Be”

The Ultimate ‘Do Not Play in Prison’ Playlist