This Janet Jackson music video could crash your laptop

If you bought a Windows laptop in 2005 and it’s still working, don’t use it to view the video for Janet Jackson’s 1989 hit, “Rhythm Nation,” because it could really hurt things.

People who work in tech support have identified an odd and specific problem involving laptops from multiple manufacturers running Windows XP and using a 5400 RPM hard drive. So yeah, it’s ancient stuff–but still interesting.

The issue is that the video features natural resonant frequencies for a certain model of 5400 RPM hard drive that caused the drive to vibrate so hard until it failed. These frequencies were so dead-on that if the video was played on one laptop, it could crash another laptop sitting next to it.

When the vulnerability was spotted, a filter was installed in computers’ audio receivers that detected and removed the offending frequencies. Tech support people are quick to point out that this is not a judgment on the quality of the song.

If you’d like to run your own diagnostics, here’s the video. You’re responsible for what happens.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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