Janet Jackson and her ability to crash hard drives

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Janet Jackson has a very special power: the ability to crash hard drives! It was the very serious Microsoft engineer Raymond Chen who revealed the glitch experienced by one of his colleagues working with Windows XP. However, audiophiles who enjoy Apple Music or Deezer Hi-Fi need not panic as the situation is now under control (or almost).

Rhythm Nation causes problems

On his blog, Raymond Chen stated that the song Rhythm Nation caused a strange phenomenon to take place. One day, a “major computer manufacturer” noticed that some of their machines were going haywire when the music video for the 1989 song was played. To better understand the extent of the anomaly, the manufacturer performed a battery of tests on several other computers. They observed repeated glitches that sometimes resulted in the computer and those around it completely crashing.

Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson has sold 12 million records worldwide with the track Rhythm Nation. Yet this song broke many hard drives. The cause was the song’s frequencies, which caused instabilities on some PCs.

Natural frequencies are the culprits

Although Raymond Chen wants to keep the identity of the manufacturer and the models impacted a secret, the reason behind these erros is no longer a mystery. The answer lies in the frequencies generated by the American artist’s song. “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” Raymond Chen elaborates. It was therefore an intense sequence of short vibrations impacting the system’s hard drive and crashing the device.

A problem that hasn’t really been resolved…

To overcome this glitch, the manufacturer secretly added a filter in the audio module to block certain frequencies. However, there is no solution for “attacks” from another PC or a neighboring speaker since the sound doesn’t come from the computer itself.
While Janet Jackson’s work is timeless, the same cannot be said for laptops running Windows XP. Used between 2001 and 2014, the operating system is gradually disappearing from the market and machines with 5,400 RPM hard drives have become very rare.

If the lack of information revealed by Raymond Chen makes it impossible to hunt down the affected PCs, you can always do the test at home. Because as Janet Jackson says in Rhythm Nation, theres is “strength in numbers”. If not, the best thing to do is to simply enjoy your party speaker or your soundbar!


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