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Music / Jagged Little Pill

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Swallow it down (what a jagged little pill)
It feels so good (swimming in your stomach)
Wait until the dust settles
Well, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything's okay and everything's going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out
When you think everything's gone wrong and everything blows up in your face

Jagged Little Pill is the third studio album by Canadian singer Alanis Morissette. It was released through Maverick Records on June 13, 1995.

Recorded in the spring of 1994, when Morissette was merely nineteen, Jagged Little Pill showcased her pop sensibilities, which shone through various grunge and alternative rock-inspired riffs. Morissette's ability to compose songs quickly and effortlessly allowed for sun-drenched, radio-friendly tunes with angst-filled lyrics which resonated with teens and young women. She also produced genre-bending raw melodies backed by elaborate production styles, propelling the album's singles to become crossover hits. The feminist and sentimental themes throughout the album channeled artists as diverse as Madonna and Patti Smith, while pop singers such as Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne credit this record for inspiring their careers.

The album was released to both critical and commercial acclaim all across the world. It became one of the most successful albums of the 1990s, and is now one of the highest-selling albums of all time, hitting the top of the charts virtually everywhere. It has been certified Diamond (16-times Platinum) by the RIAA, and has sold 33 million copies globally. It went 10-times Platinum in the United Kingdom, while in her native Canada, it was certified Double Diamond, making her the first Canadian to achieve this. It was in the Top 25 of the Year-End Billboard 200 album chart for three straight years, topping the chart in 1996, and registered as the highest-selling album of the 1990s in the United States. It currently sits at #7 on Billboard's all-time album sales chart.

The album dominated the 1996 Grammy Awards; "You Oughta Know" won both Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song, while the album won Best Rock Album and Album of the Year, making Morissette (then 21) the youngest artist to win the latter honor at the time. Its impact would be felt at the next two Grammys ceremonies as well; "Ironic" was nominated twice at the 1997 ceremony (Record of the Year and Best Music Video, Short Form), and a video album which documented the 1995-96 world tour Morissette went on to promote the album won the 1998 Grammy for Best Music Video, Long Form.

"Ironic" is the Trope Namer for Isn't It Ironic?, although the song itself isn't an example, and in fact doesn't contain the best examples of irony, either. Morissette herself has acknowledged this repeatedly, and even claimed that the song is ironically about a woman who doesn't know what irony is. Clever.

The album was adapted into stage musical by Diablo Cody that premiered in summer 2018 to strong reviews, ahead of a Broadway premiere in December 2019. It has also been favorably compared to Carole King's Tapestry for its themes of heartbreak and failed relationships.

Six singles were released to support the album: "You Oughta Know", "Hand in My Pocket", "Ironic", "You Learn", "Head Over Feet", and "All I Really Want". Three of the first four were Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.note 


Side One
  1. "All I Really Want" (4:45)
  2. "You Oughta Know" (4:09)
  3. "Perfect" (3:08)
  4. "Hand in My Pocket" (3:42)
  5. "Right Through You" (2:56)
  6. "Forgiven" (5:00)
Side Two
  1. "You Learn" (4:00)
  2. "Head Over Feet" (4:27)
  3. "Mary Jane" (4:41)
  4. "Ironic" (3:50)
  5. "Not the Doctor" (3:48)
  6. "Wake Up" (4:54)

CD versions also have "You Oughta Know" (Jimmy the Saint Blend, with the Hidden Track "Your House" (A Cappella)" (8:13)

"And I'm here to remind you, of the tropes you left when you went away":

  • Abusive Parents: "Perfect" is about parents who live vicariously through their kids and humiliate and berate them for not meeting expectations.
    We love you just the way you are
    If you're perfect.
  • A Cappella: "Your House" is sung this way.
  • Album Title Drop: Jagged Little Pill comes from a line in "You Learn":
    Swallow it down (what a jagged little pill)
    It feels so good (swimming in your stomach)
  • Break Up Song: "You Oughta Know", where Alanis insults her former boyfriend and his new partner.
  • Coming of Age: "You Learn" about the learning process of life.
  • Crossing the Desert: Alanis does this in the music video of "You Oughta Know".
  • A Dog Named "Dog": "Right Through You"
    Hello Mr. Man.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: "All I Really Want"
    All I really want is some peace, man
    a place to find a common ground
    And all I really want is a wavelength
    All I really want is some comfort
    A way to get my hands untied
    And all I really want is some justice...
  • Face on the Cover: Alanis' face in close-up.
  • Friends with Benefits: The Trope Namer, coined on "Head Over Feet".
    You're my best friend
    Best friend with benefits
  • Gag Censor: In the video for "Hand in My Pocket", the curse in the line "I'm brave, but I'm chicken-shit" is muted, but what's supposed to be said is emphasized by showing someone in the marching band stepping in a pile of manure.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: "You Oughta Know" where the jealous protagonist is giving her former partner a "Reason You Suck" Speech, insulting his new partner too.
  • Hidden Track: "Your House".
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: "Hand in My Pocket" is full of these sentences.
  • Isn't It Ironic?: Her most famous song is the Trope Namer, even if it doesn't fit the trope.
  • Irony: Debate is still going on whether the situations listed in "Ironic" are actually ironic at all (one that does fit is the guy afraid of flying who decides to finally ride an airplane "and as his plane crashed down, he thought 'Well, isn't this nice?'").
  • "I Want" Song: "All I Really Want", where the protagonist lists all the things she wants in life.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: "Not the Doctor":
    I don't want to be adored
    For what I merely represent to you
    I don't want to be your babysitter
    You're a very big boy now
    I don't want to be your mother
    I didn't carry you in my womb for nine months
    Show me the back door
  • List Song: "Hand in My Pocket", listing sentences full of immediate contradictions, and "Ironic", listing stuff Alanis considers ironic.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: "You Oughta Know"
    Would she go down on you in a theatre?
  • Metal Scream: The choruses of "Ironic" and "You Oughta Know" are bellowed with passion.
  • New Sound Album: Compared to her previous output this album had a more hard rock/Post-Grunge sound.
  • One-Woman Song: "Mary Jane".
  • Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: During the quiet moments, Alanis frequently employs this.
  • Precision F-Strike: "You Oughta Know"
    Are you thinking of me when you fuck her?
    • "You Oughta Know" is a classic case of bowdlerization not working. The song was very popular among teens, but of course, there's an F-bomb in it. At school dances and similar functions, the radio edit version would play where the offending word was simply muted. So what would happen when that spot in the song came up? Everyone in the room would shout out the offending word at the muted point. To be fair, most radio stations played it such that it went, "When you ffffff- her." Which actually sounded good too. In Rock Band 2, the solution they came up with was echoing the "you" before the F-bomb while muting it. Not that players cannot sing "fuck" (since there's technically no lyrics in that space, there's also no penalty).
  • Religion Rant Song: "Forgiven", where she slags off her Catholic upbringing pretty thoroughly.
  • Remaster: The 2015 deluxe edition featured a remaster of the album along with unreleased demos and some live tracks.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "All I Really Want" has Alanis comparing herself to Estella from Great Expectations, while having a confrontation with her partner about their uncomfortable relationship.
    • "Your House":
    Went down to the den
    Found your CDs
    And I played your Joni.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The identity of Alanis' former partner in "You Oughta Know". There are a number of people who have been connected to it; Canadian comedian/actor Dave Coulier has alternately claimed that he is, and he isn't. Alanis herself has stated that she intends to never reveal who it is.
  • Special Guest: The Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and guitarist Dave Navarro (the latter then-formerly of Jane's Addiction) feature on the track "You Oughta Know". The video also features Taylor Hawkins, who would go on to become the drummer for Foo Fighters.
  • Spoken Word: "Your House" is an a capella song.
  • Stage Mom: "Perfect", while not directly using the trope, describes the overbearing attitude and unrealistic expectations that many such mothers seem to have.
  • Stalker with a Crush: "Your House", the Hidden Track at the end of Jagged Little Pill. It's a song about sneaking into her ex-boyfriend's house and smelling his clothes. And now you know why men get scared when they hear Alanis' voice or find out that their girlfriends listen to her music.
  • Stop and Go: "All I Really Want" has such a moment.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Alanis, in a show of support, altered the lyrics of her song "Ironic" to:
    It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife,
    It's like meeting the man of my dreams... and meeting his beautiful husband
    • What would be rhyming couplets in the chorus for "Hand In My Pocket" are instead jumbled so that the second line from couplet A is instead the second line in couplet B, and so forth.
  • Surreal Music Video: "You Learn".
  • Take That!:
    • A rather brave one in "Right Through You", considering that it was released on Jagged Little Pill and thus released before she knew she'd be a runaway success.
    Now that I'm Miss Thang
    Now that I'm a zillionaire
    You scan the credits for your name
    And wonder why it's not there?
  • Unplugged Version: Jagged Little Pill Acoustic.
  • What You Are in the Dark: "Right Through You", directed at a "Mr. Man", about whom she claims: "I see right through you".