Janet Jackson’s Power to Crash Laptops


Janet Jackson has a power not many can claim in the music industry. At one point in time, the singer’s “Rhythm Nation” music video had the ability to crash laptops with a single click.

Not only did laptops the video played on shut down but other laptops nearby also short-circuited as well. According to Microsoft software engineer Raymond Chen, the manufacturer discovered when the music video for the 1989 song played on certain models, the computer would crash.

Apparently, the company eventually found out that the same thing was happening to their competitors. “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,” Chen said.

When the song played, the 5400 rpm hard drives easily crashed. In order to fix the problem, Microsoft had to add a custom filter in the audio pipeline that “detected and removed the offending frequencies during audio playback.”

Only certain Windows XP laptops made in 2005 were affected by the issue on Microsoft’s end. Developers likely added a digital sort of “do not remove sticker” but because it’s been so long since the incident occurred, Chen wondered if developers today actually knew why it was there.


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