Janet Jackson’s 1989 classic “Rhythm Nation” is allegedly causing certain laptops to crash. According to Microsoft’s principal software engineer Raymond Chen, the song has the same frequency as select older laptop models’ hard drives. Chen wrote in a blog post on Tuesday (August 16), “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 frequency causes laptops to crash after playing the “Rhythm Nation” video—comparable to how glass breaks after being exposed to certain sounds.
Chen added, “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,” which should’ve fixed the bug. He later joked, “I would not have wanted to be in the laboratory that they must have set up to investigate this problem. Not an artistic judgement.”
Since the filter was added years ago and applies to older models, Chen expressed hope that “laptops are not still carrying this audio filter to protect against damage to a model of hard drive they are no longer using.”
Jackson’s music may stand the tests of time, but nobody could’ve predicted this malfunction.
Want to test the theory? If you happen to have an older laptop laying around, play “Rhythm Nation” below.