Janet Jackson’s ‘Rhythm Nation’ reportedly wreaked havoc on old laptops
(WJBF) — As anyone born before the year 2000 can attest, Janet Jackson’s 1989 hit ‘Rhythm Nation‘ absolutely jams. But it also had a way of jamming hard drives more than a decade after the ‘Rhythm Nation 1814’ album was released.
Raymond Chen, a Microsoft Software Engineer, wrote in a blog this week that “a major computer manufacturer” found that playing the music video for the song would “crash certain models of laptops.” It didn’t just crash their laptops, but their competitors laptops as well.
But after further research, it was found that it wasn’t just the video causing the problem, it was the song.
“And then they discovered something extremely weird: Playing the music video on one laptop caused a laptop sitting nearby to crash, even though that other laptop wasn’t playing the video!” Chen wrote.
Turns out the song contained one of the same frequencies used in 5400 RPM laptop hard drives that the manufacturer and their competitors used. The frequency used in the song would rattle the drives and essentially force them to come apart.
The Verge reports that the laptops that failed came from the Windows XP-era of the early 2000s. The problem was quickly remedied after manufacturers added a filter to the drives “that detected and removed the offending frequencies during audio playback.”
Despite being practically impossible to happen on laptops today, the fundamentals of physics, old technology, and one killer classic song makes for a very interesting story.