The Anti-Culture Press

The Brian Mcknight Algorithm Error

Posted in Music, Popular culture by bellidor54 on April 4, 2009

There’s this local auto body shop where I used to live and the owner’s name is Juan. My friend Dawn and I would usually go there to get my car fixed because of its convenient location. If you know me and my friend Dawn well enough, you’d probably know why we can’t stop singing the song “Back At One” by Brian Mcknight. It’s a good song, it’s just that we can’t help sing “Juan…you’re like a dream come true. Two, just wanna be with you…” HAHA.

Anyways, being an aspiring Computer Scientist that I am, I can’t help but think about the algorithm that Brian sings in this song.

Let me start off by giving a little background in Computer Programming.

Joke: “Why did the Computer Scientist die in the washroom/bathroom?”
“Because he/she saw the instructions on the box of soap. LATHER. RINSE. REPEAT.”

For anyone who doesn’t get this joke, the computer scientist died in the washroom lathering and rinsing the soap over and over again, because the instructions on the box of soap never told the user to stop repeating.

In computer science, this is what we call an Infinite Loop (in an algorithm). An Infinite Loop is exactly what you think it is, a loop that keeps going on and on. So in an algorithm (a set of instructions), an Infinite Loop is a set of instructions that gets repeated over and over again (infinitely).

Maybe some people have already noticed this, but in Brian Mcknight’s song “Back At One,” there’s an infinite loop. Here’s the lyrics of where exactly this occurs:

“One, you’re like a dream come true
Two, just wanna be with you
Three, girl it’s plain to see
That you’re the only one for me and
Four, repeat steps one through three
Five, make you fall in love with me
If ever I believe my work is done
Then I’ll start back at one”

Brian sings this song beautifully, but algorithmically, it’s terrible. Let’s go through the song algorithmically.

So we have now sung the first verse and now we are going to sing this part.

“One, you’re like a dream come true
Two, just wanna be with you
Three, girl it’s plain to see
That you’re the only one for me and”

But at “Four, repeat steps one through three,” the algorithm tells us to go back to

“One, you’re like a dream come true
Two, just wanna be with you
Three, girl it’s plain to see
That you’re the only one for me and…”

But what do we do after the last line? Well, we just sing this line again, “Four, repeat steps one through three,” and so on and so on.

This is exactly like the Computer Scientist Joke. If Brian were to sing this song algorithmically, he would keep singing those lines over and over again and he wouldn’t be able to get through the whole song.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think this is one of the best R&B songs of all time. It’s just that if Brian was a computer scientist he probably would’ve never made this song the way it is. And the song he makes if he were, may or may not be even good as it is now. Good thing Brian Mcknight wasn’t a computer scientist though, otherwise, couples would have one less of a good wedding song to think about.

Back at one...again?

Back at one...again?

Side Note: There’s more than one occurrence of an infinite loop in this song of course. There’s actually a total of two in the lyrics that I showed you. I’m not going to talk about it, because I just wanted to point out that if someone were to follow this song algorithmically, he/she would fail. Also, my claim makes the assumption that for all of the statements in the lyrics, ALL are true. So for example, the statement,

“Four, repeat steps one through three”

is true no matter what, but there’s no reason for it to be false as well. In that case, there wouldn’t actually be a loop in that part that I described. Same applies for the rest of the lyrics. Thanks to the people who pointed these out. Oh, and thanks for reading.