Jagged Little Pill

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Jagged Little Pill
Studio album by Alanis Morissette
Released June 13, 1995
Recorded 1994–1995 at Westlake Recording Studios and Signet Sound, Hollywood
Genre Alternative rock, post-grunge,[1] pop rock
Length 57:23
Label Maverick, Reprise
Producer Glen Ballard
Alanis Morissette chronology
  • Jagged Little Pill
  • (1995)
Singles from Jagged Little Pill
  1. "You Oughta Know"
    Released: July 6, 1995
  2. "Hand in My Pocket"
    Released: October 31, 1995
  3. "Ironic"
    Released: February 27, 1996
  4. "You Learn"
    Released: July 9, 1996
  5. "Head over Feet"
    Released: September 16, 1996
  6. "All I Really Want"
    Released: December 1996

Jagged Little Pill is the third studio album by Canadian singer Alanis Morissette, and her first album released internationally. Her first studio album after a three year hiatus, following her break with MCA Records, it became a commercial and critical success, selling more than 33 million copies worldwide. Co-written with the album's producer, Glen Ballard, who introduced a pop sensibility to Morissette's bitter angst,[2] Jagged Little Pill produced six singles, including the Grammy nominated "Ironic".

Morissette started recording the album after moving to Toronto, Canada, until she travelled to Los Angeles, where she met Glen Ballard, who was the only producer for the album. The album had charting success worldwide, peaking at number one in her native Canada for 24 weeks (three weeks in late 1995, an unbroken 19-week run in 1996 and two separate weeks later in the year), as well as reaching number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, staying there for 12 non-consecutive weeks. By 2009, the album had sold over 33 million units/copies worldwide,[3] topping the charts in 10 countries, including the UK, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Finland and the Netherlands and even ranking on the top 100 on many countries' best selling of all time lists. Billboard further ranked the album as the number one Best Selling Pop album of the 1990s.[4]

During the last three years of the 1990s, the album was nominated for a total of nine Grammy Awards. Morissette won five awards. In 1996, she won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, making her the youngest artist in history to win the title, at age 21, a record she held for fourteen years, until Taylor Swift won album of the year at age 20, for her album Fearless. She also won Best Rock Album. Her single "You Oughta Know" won two Grammys, Best Female Rock Vocal Performance & Best Rock Song; the same song was also nominated for Song of the Year. The same year, Morissette was nominated Best New Artist.[5]

Jagged Little Pill received general acclaim from music critics, with many praising the album's talent and lyrical content. The album received many accolades. In October 2002, Rolling Stone ranked it number 31 on its Women In Rock - The 50 Essential Albums list, and in 2003 the magazine ranked it number 327 on its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[6] The album also holds a title in The Definitive 200 Albums list, in which it is placed at number 26. The album ranked at #50 on Rolling Stone's list of Women Who Rock: The 50 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2012.[7]


Neither of Morissette's first two albums, (Alanis and Now Is the Time), achieved much success outside of Canada. In 1993, after leaving MCA Records Canada, Morissette moved from her home town of Ottawa to Toronto. She desired to transition into the alternative rock genre, with author Paul Cantin recalling, "She may have been a fan of dance music, but when the band covered Janet Jackson's rock-flavoured song "Black Cat," her bandmates could see how eager she was to let go."[8] Living alone for the first time, she met with a bevy of songwriters, but she was frustrated with the results. A visit to Nashville a few months later also proved fruitless. Morissette began making trips to Los Angeles and working with as many musicians as possible, in the hopes of meeting a collaborator. During this time, she met producer and songwriter Glen Ballard. According to Ballard, the connection was "instant", and within 30 minutes of meeting each other, they had begun experimenting with different sounds in Ballard's home studio in San Fernando Valley, California. Ballard and Morissette penned their first song together, called "The Bottom Line". The turning point in their sessions was the song "Perfect", which was written and recorded in 20 minutes. Morissette improvised the lyrics on the spot, and Ballard played guitar. The version of the song that appeared on Jagged Little Pill was the only take that the pair recorded.

Morissette later revealed that, during her stay in Los Angeles, she was robbed on a deserted street by a man with a gun. After the robbery, Morissette developed an intense and general angst and suffered daily panic attacks. She was hospitalized and attended psychotherapy sessions, but it didn't improve her emotional status. As Morissette later revealed in interviews, she focused all her inner problems on the soul-baring lyrics of the album, for her own health. According to Morissette, Ballard was the first collaborator who encouraged her to express her emotions.

Development and recording[edit]

Morissette in Prague

The demo recording sessions started in 1994 at Ballard's home studio and included only Morissette and the producer, who recorded the songs as they were being written. Ballard provided the rough tracks, playing the guitars, keyboards and programming drum machines, and Morissette played harmonica. The duo sought to write and record one song a day, in twelve- or sixteen-hour shifts, with minimal overdubbing later. All of Morissette's singing on the album respects that rule, each recorded in one or two takes. The tracks that were redone later in a professional studio used the original demo vocals.

The first song to be shown to A&R and record company people was "Perfect", with a simple arrangement containing only Morissette's vocals and Ballard's acoustic guitar. In 1995, around the time that Morissette penned a deal with Maverick Records, the duo took the demos to a studio and began working on full band arrangements for some tracks. During the overdub sessions, Flea and Dave Navarro (then Red Hot Chili Peppers bandmates) appeared at the studio, discovered Morissette's work, and offered to play on "You Oughta Know".

Demo tracks[edit]

Demos of several tracks, including "You Oughta Know," "Ironic," "Head Over Feet," "Forgiven," "Mary Jane" and "Right Through You," as well as two unreleased songs, "Superstar Wonderful Weirdos" and "No Avalon," have been made available by fans. Two other songs, "Keep the Radio On" and "The Bottom Line," are known by a set of handwritten lyrics once auctioned on eBay and a clip of the song played on Behind the Music.


The song has an aggressive tone and piercing vocals.

A 22-second sample of the first verse and chorus of "Ironic". Its chord progression changes as the latter begins. The song contains pop rock undertones.

Problems playing these files? See media help.

Jagged Little Pill is a very different album for Morissette, who before the album, had sung dance-pop music. Unlike her previous albums Alanis and Now Is the Time, the album strayed from her typical dance and bubblegum pop. In contrast, this album is seen as a landmark in alternative rock. Lyrically, most of the songs were written by Morissette and Glen Ballard.[9]

Tracks like "All I Really Want" and "Right Through You" talk about frustration in her life. Her song "Ironic" talks about irony in her life. "You Oughta Know" talks about a sudden split with a man who has fallen for another woman. The song "Perfect" is about parents demanding too much of their children. "You Learn" is a slower pop rock number.[citation needed] The song "Head over Feet" is a love song about people who treat her like a "princess". "Mary Jane" is about a girl who suffers from depression. "Wake Up" takes shape of a cry for help to an apathetic world.[10]

Release and reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[2]
Chicago Tribune 2/4 stars[11]
Entertainment Weekly (C+)[12]
Pop'Stache positive[13]
Q 4/5 stars[14]
Robert Christgau (B+)[15]
Sputnikmusic 5/5 stars[16]

Jagged Little Pill was released on June 13, 1995 in the United States, followed by a worldwide release. Jagged Little Pill received general acclaim from most music critics. Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic gave it a very positive review, giving it four-and-a-half out of five stars. He mostly complimented the album's standout talent saying "It's remarkable that Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill struck a sympathetic chord with millions of listeners, because it's so doggedly, determinedly insular." He concludes, "As slick as the music is, the lyrics are unvarnished and Morissette unflinchingly explores emotions so common, most people would be ashamed to articulate them. This doesn't make Jagged Little Pill great, but it does make it a fascinating record, a phenomenon that's intensely personal."[2] Robert Christgau gave it a B+ grade, mainly praising its thematic content: "she's happy to help 15 million girls of many ages stick a basic feminist truth in our faces: privileged phonies have identity problems too. Not to mention man problems."[15]

David Browne of Entertainment Weekly gave it a middling review, stating that the album "is [hard] swallow. What sounds arresting on a single grows wearing over a full album. Producer-co-songwriter Glen Ballard's arrangements are clunky mixtures of alternative mood music and hammy arena rock, and the 21-year-old Morissette tends to wildly oversing every other line."[12] When listing the album at 45 on the "100 Best Albums of the Nineties", Rolling Stone commented: "Jagged Little Pill is like a Nineties version of Carole King's Tapestry: a woman using her plain soft-rock voice to sift through the emotional wreckage of her youth, with enough heart and songcraft to make countless listeners feel the earth move".[17]

Commercial response[edit]

Jagged Little Pill is one of the most successful albums of the 1990s. It peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, and was the first album to reach both 12 million (in February 1997) and 13 million (in August 1998) in sales in the US since 1991, when Nielsen SoundScan started tracking music sales.[18] It was certified 16× Platinum for shipments of 16 million copies, and has sold 14,950,000 copies according Nielsen SoundScan,[19] and a further 350,000 units through BMG music club.[20] The album also peaked at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling over 2 million copies, being certificated 2× Diamond.[21]

Jagged Little Pill was very successful worldwide. In Oceania, the album had debuted at number 46 in Australia, and rose to peak at number one, staying there for 10 consecutive weeks.[22] It was certificated 14× Platinum, selling over 980,000 copies there. It is currently the 4th best selling album in Australian history. The album debuted at number 46 in New Zealand, then rose to number one, staying there for 11 non-consecutive weeks.[23] The album had been certificated 14× Platinum, selling over 200,000 copies. It is currently the 14th best selling album in New Zealand.[24]

In Europe, the album peaked at number six on the French Albums Chart, staying in the charts for 37 weeks.[25] It was certificated Platinum in that country. The album debuted at number 46 in the United Kingdom but peaked at number one, and stayed in the charts for a total of 145 weeks.[26] The album was certificated 10× Platinum, shipping over 3 million copies.[27] Overall, the album sold 33 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the most successful albums in music history.

Due to the success of the album, Morissette toured worldwide for a total of 18 months. A DVD and VHS was released, under the title Jagged Little Pill, Live.[28] That had received positive reviews from music critics as well. The tour had spanned from different countries (which was eventually featured on the VHS) where she had travelled to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, United Kingdom, South America, Asia, United States and her native Canada.[29] It had won a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video.[30] One of the best selling albums worldwide, in 1996 it was the best selling worldwide with 18.7 million copies sold with 500,000 or more copies sold during more than 15 non-consecutive weeks.


  • "You Oughta Know" was released as the album's lead single. The song was written by Morissette and Glen Ballard. The song was originally supposed to be released only in Canada and the U.S., however, Maverick Records released the single worldwide. The song became an instant hit, peaking at number six on the Hot 100 and 20 in Canada. The song also peaked at number four in Australia and 25 in New Zealand. A music video was shot for the single, featuring Morissette in a desert. The song won two Grammy Awards.
  • "Hand In My Pocket" was released as the album's second single. After "You Oughta Know", the single received more attention worldwide. The song peaked at number 1 on the U.S. Rock Charts, but failed to enter the Hot 100. The song peaked at number one in Canada, number 13 in Australia and number seven in New Zealand.
  • "Ironic" was released as the album's third single. "Ironic" became Morissette's most successful and known single to date, as it peaked at number one in Canada and in many rock charts in the U.S. The song peaked at number four on the Hot 100. The song also managed to peak in the top ten in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The song released a music video with Morissette singing in a car. The song was nominated for one Grammy Award.
  • "You Learn" was released as the album's fourth single. The song was a more moderate success compared to the success of "Ironic". The song was released outside of Canada, not even peaking in the country. The song peaked at number six on the Hot 100, number 20 in Australia and number 13 in New Zealand. A music video was featured for the single.
  • "Head over Feet" was released as the album's fifth single. The song was released in the UK, U.S and Canada, although getting a promotional release in Australia only. The song peaked at number seven in the UK, but didn't manage to chart in the U.S. Hot 100 but in Canada it was a massive hit and held the number one spot for 8 weeks straight.
  • "All I Really Want" was released as the sixth and final single off the album. The single was only released outside of the U.S. and peaked at number 40 in Australia and 59 in the UK.

(see chart summaries below for peak positions of charts for the singles; note the rules regarding charting on the Hot 100 for an explanation of why Hand In My Pocket and Head Over Feet did not chart)


Social impact and acoustic re-release[edit]

As of 2009, it has sold 33 million copies worldwide.[3]

In 2005, Morissette re-released an acoustic version of the album, Jagged Little Pill Acoustic, on the tenth anniversary of the original album's release. This album was originally sold through Starbucks' Hear Music brand in an exclusive six-week deal that ended on July 26, 2005. For the duration of this partnership, music retailer HMV boycotted the sale of Morissette's entire catalogue in Canada.[31] The album was released on June 15, 2005, ten years to the day after the original United States release. The artwork of the acoustic version is similar to the original version, but is sepia tinted instead.

Accolades, nominations and awards[edit]

The album was nominated for six Grammy Awards in 1996, and Morissette won "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance", "Best Rock Song", "Best Rock Album", and "Album of the Year" (she won all but "Best New Artist" and "Song of the Year"). Up until 2010 she held the record for being the youngest person to receive the Album of the Year award, at age 21, which was later broken by Taylor Swift. Later that year, she embarked on an 18-month world tour in support of Jagged Little Pill, beginning in small clubs and ending in large venues. In 1997 she was nominated for two more Grammy Awards: "Record of the Year" and "Best Music Video, Short Form" for "Ironic". The video Jagged Little Pill, Live, which chronicled the bulk of the tour, won a 1998 Grammy Award for "Best Long Form Music Video". In 1998, Q magazine readers voted Jagged Little Pill the 19th greatest album of all time. In 2003, the album was ranked number 327 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Alanis Morissette, all music composed by Morissette and Glen Ballard.

No. Title Length
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
7. "You Learn"   4:00
8. "Head over Feet"   4:27
9. "Mary Jane"   4:41
10. "Ironic"   3:50
11. "Not the Doctor"   3:48
12. "Wake Up"   4:54
13. "You Oughta Know (Alternate Take)" (contains hidden track "Your House (A Cappella)") 8:13
Total length:


The following people contributed to Jagged Little Pill:[33]

Charts and certifications[edit]


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Argentina (CAPIF)[51] Platinum 60,000x
Australia (ARIA)[52] 14× Platinum 980,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[53] 2× Platinum 100,000x
Brazil (ABPD)[54] Gold 100,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[55] 2× Diamond 2,000,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[56] Platinum 65,860[56]
France (SNEP)[57] Platinum 411,600[58]*
Germany (BVMI)[59] 2× Platinum 1,000,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[60] 4× Platinum 400,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[61] Platinum 50,000*
Poland (ZPAV)[62] Gold 50,000*
Sweden (GLF)[63] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[64] Platinum 50,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[65] 10× Platinum 3,000,000^
United States (RIAA)[66] 16× Platinum 15,300,000[19][20]
Europe (IFPI)[67] 7× Platinum 7,000,000*
Worldwide 33,000,000[3]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone



Year Title Chart positions
Hot 100
1995 "You Oughta Know" A 4 20 11 25 22 6 13 1
"Hand in My Pocket" 13 1 7 26 15 1
1996 "Ironic" 3 1 8 6 3 11 4 2 1
"You Learn" 20 1 13 24 6 1 7
"Head Over Feet" 12 1 11 33 27 7 3 25
1997 "All I Really Want" 40 2 59 65 14


  • In the U.S., previous to 5 December 1998, songs were not allowed to appear on the main Billboard Hot 100 chart unless a physical single was issued. Maverick Records only physically released "Ironic" and "You Learn" in the American market, thus they were the only singles from Jagged Little Pill to chart on the Hot 100.
  • A Following Morissette's performance of "You Ought to Know" at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards, Maverick Records physically released the live version as a B-side to "You Learn", therefore the chart performance of the latter is often referred as "You Learn/You Ought to Know" as a double A-side single.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jagged Little Pill Review". Ultimate-guitar.com. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  2. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2011). "Jagged Little Pill - Alanis Morissette | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "Glen Ballard: Biography". Glen Ballard Official Site. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  4. ^ Billboard - Google. Books.google.co.kr. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  5. ^ "38th Annual Grammy Awards - 1996". Rock On The Net. 1996-02-28. Retrieved 2011-09-19. 
  6. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-04-11. 
  7. ^ Women Who Rock: The 50 Greatest Albums of All Time
  8. ^ Cantin, Paul (1998-03-15). Alanis Morissette: A Biography. Macmillan. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  9. ^ "Jagged Little Pill Review | Alanis Morissette | Compact Discs | Reviews". Ultimate-guitar.com. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  10. ^ "Jagged Little Pill". G-pop.net. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  11. ^ Kot, Greg (July 13, 1995). "Alanis Morissette Jagged Little Pill (Maverick)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b David Browne (1995-08-04). "Entertainment Weekly Review". Ew.com. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  13. ^ Radford, Jason (March 31, 2011). "Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill | Old 'Stache Review". PopStache. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Q Review". Q4music.com. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  15. ^ a b "Robert Christgau Review". Robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  16. ^ John Hyperbole Hanson (2006-08-15). "Sputnikmusic Review". Sputnikmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  17. ^ "100 Best Albums of the Nineties: Alanis Morissette, 'Jagged Little Pill' | Rolling Stone". rollingstone.com. 2011. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  18. ^ Paul Grein (May 28, 2014). "Chart Watch: Coldplay Sets 2014 Sales Record". Yahoo Chart Watch. 
  19. ^ a b Caulfield, Keith (October 9, 2014). "Adele's '21' Surpasses 11 Million In U.S. Sales". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved October 11, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b BMG Music Club press release on their top 100 selling albums
  21. ^ "Gold Platinum Database". Musiccanada.com. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  22. ^ a b Steffen Hung. "Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  23. ^ Steffen Hung. "Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  24. ^ Steffen Hung. "New Zealand charts portal". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  25. ^ Steffen Hung. "Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill". lescharts.com. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  26. ^ "Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill". Chart Stats. 1995-08-26. Archived from the original on 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  27. ^ "BPI Certified Awards". Bpi.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  28. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0167757/
  29. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0167757/locations
  30. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0167757/awards
  31. ^ McMartin, Trent (June 13, 2005). "HMV To Boycott Alanis Morissette". Soulshine (Canada). 
  32. ^ http://wmg.jp/artist/alanis/WPCR000075529.html
  33. ^ "Jagged Little Pill Articles and Information". Neohumanism.org. 1995-06-13. Retrieved 2011-09-19. 
  34. ^ Steffen Hung. "Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill". austriancharts.at. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  35. ^ "Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill". ultratop.be. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  36. ^ "Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill". ultratop.be. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
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  38. ^ Steffen Hung. "Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  39. ^ "Hits of the World - Eurochart". Billboard. September 14, 1996. p. 63. Retrieved June 30, 2012. 
  40. ^ Steffen Hung. "Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill". finnishcharts.com. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  41. ^ musicline.de / PhonoNet GmbH. "Morissette, Alanis: Jagged Little Pill". musicline.de. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  42. ^ "Hungarian Albums Chart". Mahasz.hu. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  43. ^ "Hits of the World - Ireland". Billboard. July 6, 1996. p. 57. Retrieved June 30, 2012. 
  44. ^ "Hits of the World - Italy". Billboard. September 7, 1996. p. 68. Retrieved June 30, 2012. 
  45. ^ Steffen Hung. "Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  46. ^ Steffen Hung. "Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
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  48. ^ "Hits of the World - Spain". Billboard. September 14, 1996. p. 62. Retrieved June 30, 2012. 
  49. ^ Steffen Hung. "Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  50. ^ [1][dead link]
  51. ^ "Discos de Oro y Platino - Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill" (in Spanish). Cámara Argentina de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved August 5, 2012. 
  52. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1998 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
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  55. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill". Music Canada. 
  56. ^ a b The first web page presents the sales figures, the second presents the certification limits:
  57. ^ "French album certifications – Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 
  58. ^ "InfoDisc : Les Ventes Réelles des Albums depuis 1968". Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 2014-03-04. 
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  61. ^ "Norwegian album certifications – Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill" (in Norwegian). IFPI Norway. 
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  63. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. 
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  65. ^ "British album certifications – Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Jagged Little Pill in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  66. ^ "American album certifications – Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
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  71. ^ "Dutch top 40". MegaCharts. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
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  73. ^ Official Charts Company. "UK singles chart". Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  74. ^ a b c Peak positions for singles in different Billboard charts:

External links[edit]