Microsoft Software Engineer Says Specific Janet Jackson Song Was Crashing Hard Drives


Janet Jackson’s power knows no bounds.

rhythm nation

Janet Jackson’s vocal power knows no bounds. According to a delightful blog post published Tuesday by longtime Microsoft software engineer Raymond Chen, Janet Jackson’s 1989 hit “Rhythm Nation” has the strength to completely crash some Windows XP-era laptops — and according to an official entry in a known vulnerabilities database, the outlandish claim is absolutely true.

“A certain 5400 RPM OEM hard drive, as shipped with laptops circa 2005,” the CVE warning reads, “allows physically nearby attackers to cause a denial of service (malfunction of the device and system crash) via a resonant frequency attack with the audio signal from the Rhythm Nation music video.”

In other words, “Rhythm Nation” has the natural resonant frequencies for a specific laptop hard drive. So, like an opera singer’s falsetto might smash a wine glass, Jackson’s poppy vocal chops can tip those particular computers into malfunction. Icon!

Storage Wars

In her blog post – wonderfully titled “Janet Jackson Had the Power to Crash Laptops” – Chen explained that the “Rhythm Nation” phenomenon was discovered by engineers from an unnamed “big computer maker”, who realized that playing Jackson’s hit not only crashed the computer the music video was playing on – it also crashed many nearby computers.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the lab they had to set up to investigate this problem,” Chen mused, perhaps to say he wouldn’t want to listen to “Rhythm Nation” on repeat for ages. hours. However, he added thoughtfully, “Not an artistic judgment.”

Chen further explained that the manufacturer got around the problem by “adding a custom filter in the audio pipeline”, which worked to detect and remove crash-causing frequencies. But like Ars-Technica point out, this isn’t a perfect solution – while it might allow anyone with these laptops to safely listen to Janet Jackson on their own devices, their computer could still crash if it’s nearby of someone else playing the song.

On one point we all agree: some things, like Janet Jackson’s discography, are simply worth taking the risk.

READ MORE: Old laptop hard drives would crash when exposed to Janet Jackson’s music [Ars Technica]

More on dumb hard drives: James Webb’s hard drive is hilarious and tiny


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