Don’t Call on Miss Jackson: 1989 hit song Rhythm Nation can crash certain models of laptops because the tune has the same frequency as what some hard drives give off

  • Janet Jackson’s 1989 song Rhythm Nation is a  security vulnerability because it crashes laptops
  • The issue comes from a unique frequency in the song that matches the natural frequency of some older hard drives
  • The issue, however, is a low threat because it happened with older models 

Janet Jackson’s 1989 hit Rhythm Nation has a funky beat that makes listeners want to dance, but the tune contains a unique frequency that crashes some older laptops.

The issue was revealed by Microsoft’s principal software engineer Raymond Chen on his blog The Old New Thing, which he states the song’s frequency matched the frequency given off by the laptop’s hard drive, which is called a resonate frequency, which is the natural frequency of an object.

The crashing laptop is similar to how a glass shatters when exposed to certain sounds – sound released from a source carries the invisible vibration through the air and onto the glass. 

The unique frequency in Jackson’s song was discovered by an unnamed ‘major computer manufacturer’ that also found laptops nearby the computer playing also crash.

Microsoft declared Rhythm Nation a security vulnerability labeled CVE-2022-38392.

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Janet Jackson’s (pictured) 1989 song Rhythm Nation is deemed a security vulnerability because it will crash laptops when played

‘A colleague of mine shared a story from Windows XP product support A major computer manufacturer discovered that playing the music video for Janet Jackson’s ‘Rhythm Nation’ would crash certain models of laptops,’ Chen describes in the blog posted Wednesday.

‘I would not have wanted to be in the laboratory that they must have set up to investigate this problem. Not an artistic judgement.’

However, the unmanned manufacture found Jackson’s song also crashed laptops made by its competitors, BleepingComputer reports.

‘Playing the music video on one laptop caused a laptop sitting nearby to crash, even though that other laptop wasn’t playing the video,’ according to the posting.

This is because the song (pictured is a shot from the music video) has the same frequency as what some older hard drives give off

‘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.’

The issue was resolved after manufacturers added a ‘custom filter in the audio pipeline that detected and removed the offending frequencies during audio playback.’

How frequencies break glasses, shake buildings and crash laptops 

All objects have natural vibrations depending on their size and shape, which are not normally felt people, known as their natural or resonant frequency.

When these objects are subjected to external vibrations or forces at a frequency equal or close to their natural frequency, these objects often vibrate very strongly.

This process, known as resonance, can cause one weak vibration to cause a big vibration on a larger object.

An example on a small scale would be someone breaking a wine glass by singing at exactly the right note, its resonant frequency.

In buildings or on bridges, this can occur when people on or inside the structures, sync up their movement. 

And it makes laptops crash. 

‘And I’m sure they put a digital version of a ‘Do not remove’ sticker on that audio filter (Though I’m worried that in the many years since the workaround was added, nobody remembers why it’s there,’ Chen shared in the blog.

‘Hopefully, their laptops are not still carrying this audio filter to protect against damage to a model of hard drive they are no longer using.)’

Not only has frequencies known to break glasses, just last year it shook a giant 980-foot-tall skyscraper in China last year.

On May 18, the SEC Plaza in China’s Shenzhen’s Futian district started swaying, forcing occupants to quickly evacuate. 

Officials were baffled by the event, as no earthquakes were detected. 

Lu Jianxin, a chief engineer at China Construction Science and Industry Corp, suggested that the rare phenomenon was caused by mechanical resonance, which occurs when a structure’s natural oscillations time up with an external force.

He told the Shenzhen Special Zone Daily: ‘If there was no earthquake today, it would be unusual for SEG Plaza to have such a situation.

‘Judging from the currently available information, this could be an accidental frequency coincidence, that is, resonance.’

The local weather report showed a wind speed of 27mph at the time which should not have caused such an issue for the building.

‘After checking and analyzing the data of various earthquake monitoring stations across the city, there was no earthquake in Shenzhen today,’ the statement said.

‘The cause of the shaking is being verified by various departments.’

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