The Pixies song “Where is my mind?” cancels alarms on Google Pixel phones

Compact disc case for the Pixies album, “Surfer Rosa.”
The Pixies’ 1988 album “Surfer Rosa,” on which “WHere is My Mind?” appears.

If you use a Google Pixel as a musical alarm clock and your wake-up music playlist leans towards ’90s alternative rock, there’s a chance that your phone might not wake you up at the set time. And it’s all the fault of the original version of the Pixies song Where is My Mind?

Where is My Mind? starts with a short silence, followed by Black Francis (the stage name of Pixies lead vocalist Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV) saying a single word very clearly and distinctly: “Stop.”

Stop sign
Creative Commons photo by “Bidgee”.
Tap to see the source.

Reddit user “asevarte” noticed the problem with their Pixel phone and wrote about it:

For the past few months, I could not figure out why on random days, with seemingly no reason, sometimes my alarm would either not go off, or turn itself off very quickly. Maybe once every other week or so, I would wake up 30 minutes later on my backup alarm, with no indication as to why the first shut itself off.

They also figured it out. The phone’s Google Assistant was interpreting the word “Stop” as a command to cancel the most recent request, and the command doesn’t need to be preceded by “Okay Google:”

The alarm is set to play a Spotify playlist, and one of the songs on that playlist is “Where is My Mind” by the Pixies. If you know the first line of that song, you may know where I’m going with this…

The first line in the song is “Ooohhh STOP”, with the word “stop” said very clearly. My Pixel has been hearing that “stop” and turning the alarm off. Since it’s a playlist on shuffle, it only comes up every once in a while, so it’s not happening every morning.

Given that the song was released in 1988, it’s not likely that the “Stop” at the start of the song was a deliberate attempt to mess with voice-command devices. The song predates smartphones by almost 20 years!

Here’s the original song:

If it sounds familiar, it may be because you may remember it from the end of the film Fight Club

…or, more recently, the Maxence Cyrin piano cover from the TV series Mr. Robot:

Here’s the official version of Maxence Cyrin’s version:

Sometimes the strangest bugs come from the strangest places.

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