Janet Jackson Track Has Power to Crash Laptop Computers

Image: A&M

Janet Jackson’s music is powerful enough to crash laptop computers.

So says Microsoft’s Raymond Chen, who shared a blog post earlier this week that explains how one of the artist’s songs and music videos, “Rhythm Nation,” can crash “certain models of laptops,” including “some of their competitors’ laptops.” “Rhythm Nation” playing on one laptop could even get nearby laptops to crash, according to the original reports from Windows XP product support.

The problem seems to lie with the “natural resonant frequencies” of the affected hard drives, as Chen explains:

It turns out that the song contained one of the natural resonant frequencies for the model of 5400 rpm laptop hard drives that they and other manufacturers used.

The manufacturer worked around the problem by adding a custom filter in the audio pipeline that detected and removed the offending frequencies during audio playback.

And I’m sure they put a digital version of a “Do not remove” sticker on that audio filter. (Though I’m worried that in the many years since the workaround was added, nobody remembers why it’s there. Hopefully, their laptops are not still carrying this audio filter to protect against damage to a model of hard drive they are no longer using.)

Rhythm Nation premiered on September 19, 1989. The music video was directed by Dominic Sena, whose credits also include the video for the “Top Gun Anthem” composed by Harold Faltermeyer. A slightly modernized version of that theme is featured in Top Gun: Maverick.

Source: The Old New Thing

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