Twenty years ago, angst-ridden Canadian rocker Alanis Morissette released the Grammy-winning album Jagged Little Pill. Not only did the former child actor and bubblegum pop singer finally come into her own, she made a massive mark on the music industry.
You Oughta Know:
– In 1996, she became the youngest artist in history to win a Grammy Award for Album of the Year, at age 21.
– Jagged Little Pill produced six singles.
– With three Alternative Songs No. 1s, Alanis Morissette boasts the most leaders among solo women throughout the chart’s history.
The breakthrough album generated plenty of juicy stories and parodies. For starters, was “You Oughta Know” really written about Full House actor-comedian Dave Coulier? And yes, we’ve all come to terms with the fact that the topics mentioned in the song “Ironic” are not necessarily ironic, but rather very unfortunate. And lastly, did you find the hidden a cappella track at the end of the album — you know, the one that plays after the alternate take of “You Oughta Know”?
Let’s look at 10 moments that helped define one of the best-selling albums in history.
1. “You Oughta Know”
U.S. radio stations played this track with different degrees of editing due to the lyrics “Would she go down on you in a theater?” and “Are you thinking of me when you f— her?”
This was not one of those instances. Morissette will send shivers down your spine (again, or for the very first time) with her live performance of the lead single off the album. And yes, the F-word was heard on live television, and Ellen DeGeneres was blushing.
“It’s like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife.” Morissette can almost make you forget the improper application of the term ironic, because the lyrics, when paired with a catchy melody, get along famously. Then there’s the memorable music video, featuring a multiplicity of Alanises. “Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you. Life has a funny, funny way of helping you out.”
On an episode of Al TV, Weird Al hitches a ride with the hyper Alanises and very convincingly becomes the reason for all of their reactions.
3. “Head Over Feet”
“You held your breath and the door for me.” One of the friendlier tracks on the album was a thank-you song before “Thank You.”
4. “All I Really Want”
Morissette specializes in lyrics like this. “I don’t want to dissect everything today, I don’t mean to pick you apart you see, but I can’t help it. And all I need now is intellectual intercourse. A soul to dig the hole much deeper.” This live version begins with a heavy guitar intro and leads into the familiar sounds of harmonica.
5. “Mary Jane”
If you listen closely, Morissette’s voice will echo “it’s a long way down” long after the song has ended, in this track she wrote for a friend who was “going through a few things.”
6. “Hand in My Pocket”
More harmonica. In the music video for the second single off the album, Morissette stands amid a homecoming parade, and she’s brave but she’s chicken… (cue marching band member who steps in a pile of sh-t). Also, nothing rhymes with “hailing a taxicab.”
7. “Right Through You”
An older and wiser Morissette belts out the same song she shared with the world as a cautionary tale nine years earlier: “You took me out to wine, dine, 69 me but didn’t hear a damn word I said.” As if pages in her diary had come alive, we learn of her unabashed hate toward a man who used her and later missed out on her success. “You scan the credits for your name and wonder why it’s not there.” Burn.
Hallelujah. Morissette questions her faith in the religious-themed track. “If I jump in this fountain, will I be forgiven? I’ll see you next Sunday.” But it’s the powerful chorus that restores our faith. “We all needed something to cling to.”
9. “Your House”
After being introduced by fellow Grammy-winner Seal, the “best new artist of 1996” performed the hidden track on the album, and by doing so, showcased her no-need-for-Auto-Tune-or-accompaniment vocals. “So forgive me love, if I cry all afternoon.” Years later, Morissette recorded a cover of Seal’s “Crazy.”
10. “You Learn”
In the fifth single off the album, we learn that Morissette recommends we walk around naked in our living rooms. Yet in the accompanying video, she doesn’t learn the consequences of causing car accidents (and leaving the scene of the crime). Instead, she has more living to do — including spontaneous backflips, kissing a street performer and pie fights. Only after being knocked out in a boxing match is a lesson clearly (and painfully) learned.