You Oughta Know: The Music of Alanis Morissette

Alanis Morissette is a Canadian born singer-songwriter. She has won twelve Juno Awards and seven Grammy Awards. At the age of 21, Morissette became the youngest star to ever win a Grammy Award.

Born in 1974, Morissette took to music at an early age. At the age of six, she began playing the piano. Her first song was written in 1984. It was called “Fate Stay with Me”, and Morissette sent it to Lindsay Morgan, a local folksinger. Morgan recruited Morissette as her protégé.

In 1986, Morissette was cast in a Nickelodeon show You Can’t Do That on Television, but her true love was music. She signed a music contract at the age of 14. Her debut album Alanis was released in Canada in 1991. It was a dance-pop album that went platinum, and two singles from the album reached the top 40. For this album, she won a Juno Award in 1992 for Most Promising Female Vocalist of the Year. Her second album Now is the Time was released in 1992. It was ballad-driven, and was slightly less successful than her first.

In 1993, she moved to Toronto, and began collaborating with producer and songwriter Glen Ballard. Ballard encouraged her to express her emotions in her music, and the result was the album that catapulted her to stardom, her third album Jagged Little Pill. This album was released in 1995. Her personal experiences with dating were shared openly, as well as details of her Catholic upbringing.

Jagged Little Pill sold over 43 million copies and was the biggest selling debut album of any artist in history. The angst-ridden single “You Ought to Know” gained Morissette worldwide attention. It has scathing, explicit lyrics and received heavy airtime. Morissette verbalizes the deeply hurt feelings that most women have experienced but may not have been able to express. Other songs on the album are equally honest. It’s a painful, naked honesty that makes Morissette stand out among other singers. Her voice is caustic, somewhat abrasive, and always unique.

The title “Jagged Little Pill” is a metaphor for lessons in life that are hard to accept. “You Learn” shares that experience has been an important teacher. “Ironic” became the album’s biggest single. “Head over Feet” tells of a friend who became a lover. The album remained in the Top Ten for over a year.

More information on the life and music of Alanis Morissette can be found at the following sites.

It is speculated that Jagged Little Pill could be about her relationship with Full House star Dave Coulier, who Morissette dated in 1993. There is also speculation of an affair with an older record producer. Although Jagged Little Pill at first seems to be about anger, it’s really about empowerment and survival.


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