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Janet Jackson Song Can Apparently Crash Certain Laptop Models

Who would've thought a late-80s pop song has the power to crash a laptop? Definitely not us. But it's apparently possible as playing Janet Jackson's 1989 hit "Rhythm Nation" can cause certain laptop models to act up.

Credit: Janet Jackson YouTube Channel

According to a blog post by Microsoft software engineer Raymond Chen, the song in question contains sonic frequencies that match the natural resonant frequencies of the hard drives of some laptop models, causing them to crash.


What seems even weirder is that laptops don't have to play the song or the music video to crash. If they're, for instance, near a speaker or another laptop that's playing it, they'll also crash. And only this particular song appears to be triggering the issue.

Chen says the issue is observed in certain mid-2000s laptops with 5400 rpm hard drives, though he didn't specify brands or models.


The issue was first discovered by some major computer manufacturers during an investigation that involved playing the hit song on laptops. It not only crashed the manufacturer's laptops but the laptops of its competitors as well. The manufacturer then tried to implement a fix by adding a custom filter in the audio pipeline that supposedly detected and removed the coinciding frequencies during audio playback.


The Mitre Corporation, a nonprofit that tackles cybersecurity risks, even assigned the issue the CVE ID of CVE-2022-38392.


Sound frequencies have always been capable of interfering with the functionality of hard drives – that's not new. This demonstration, however, comes off as strange or funny because the frequencies are part of a popular song. It sounds like an urban legend you'd have to see to believe. And some have already taken it upon themselves to try and replicate the issue to validate Chen's claims like the folks from the Australian radio show The Kyle and Jackie O Show.

You can try it for yourself too, but you, of course, need to have a functioning old laptop running on a 5400 rpm hard drive.

 
  • Janet Jackson's 1989 hit "Rhythm Nation" can apparently cause certain laptop models to crash.

  • Microsoft software engineer Raymond Chen explains the song contains sonic frequencies that match the natural resonant frequencies of the hard drives of some laptop models, causing them to act up.

  • He notes the issue is observed in certain mid-2000s laptops with 5400 rpm hard drives, though he didn't specify brands or models.

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