Jagged Little Pill

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Not to be confused with Jagged Little Thrill.
Jagged Little Pill
Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill.jpg
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
Length 57:23
Label Maverick, Reprise
Producer Glen Ballard
Alanis Morissette chronology
Now Is the Time
Jagged Little Pill
Space Cakes
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 1, 1996

Jagged Little Pill is the third studio album and international debut album by Canadian singer Alanis Morissette, first released on June 13, 1995, through Maverick Records, In 1991, Morissette signed a two-album recording contract with MCA Records Canada where she released two commercially successful studio albums. Following the release of the albums Morissette left MCA Records Canada and was introduced to manager Scott Welch. Morissette began work on the album after moving from her hometown of Ottawa to Toronto, but did not make much progress until travelling to Los Angeles, where she met Glen Ballard.

Alanis and Ballard had an instant connection, and immediately began work on what would become Jagged Little Pill, together they co-wrote the album and experimented with different sounds. The pairs collaborations resulted in a Alternative rock album that took influence from post-grunge and pop rock, which featured the use of guitars, keyboards, drum machines, and harmonica. The albums lyrics touched upon themes of aggression and broken relationships, whilst Ballard introduced a pop sensibility to Morissette's bitter angst.[1]

The album was a huge success, topping the charts in ten countries, and went on to sell over 33 million units worldwide, and was ranked on numerous best selling lists. Jagged Little Pill received acclaim from music critics and was nominated for a total of nine Grammy Awards, of which Morissette won five, including Album of the Year, making her the youngest artist in history to win the honor—a record she held for 14 years.[2] The album went onto to be ranked by Rolling Stone at number 327 on its list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[3][4]


In 1991, MCA Records Canada released Morissette's debut studio album Alanis, which went Platinum in Canada.[5] This was followed by her second album, Now Is the Time, but it was a commercial failure, selling only a little more than half the copies of her first album.[6][7] With her two-album deal with MCA Records Canada complete, Morissette was left without a major label contract. In 1993, Morissette's publisher Leeds Levy at MCA Music Publishing introduced her to manager Scott Welch.[8] Welch told HitQuarters he was impressed by her "spectacular voice", her character and her lyrics. At the time she was still living at home with her parents. Together they decided it would be best for her career to move to Toronto and start writing with other people.[8]

After graduating from high school, Morissette moved from Ottawa to Toronto.[6] Her publisher funded part of her development and when she met producer and songwriter Glen Ballard, he believed in her talent enough to let her use his studio.[6][8] The two wrote and recorded Morissette's first internationally released album, Jagged Little Pill, and by the spring of 1995, she had signed a deal with Maverick Records. According to Welch, every label they had approached had passed on Morissette apart from Maverick.[8]


Jagged Little Pill was recorded in Hollywood, Los Angeles after Morissette relocated there and met with Glen Ballard,.

Morissette co-wrote the album solely with Glen Ballard, who also produced the album. 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 using the original demo vocals.

Ballard met Alanis in 1994, when his publishing company matched them up. 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.[9] Ballard also declared to Rolling Stone that, "I just connected with her as a person, and, almost parenthetically, it was like 'Wow, you're 19?' She was so intelligent and ready to take a chance on doing something that might have no commercial application. Although there was some question about what she wanted to do musically, she knew what she didn't want to do, which was anything that wasn't authentic and from her heart."[10] The first track the pair wrote was "The Bottom Line", which was not included on the albums initial 1995 release, however was included on the albums 2015 re-release. The song was written in one hour, immediately after they met.[11]

The albums most successful single "Ironic" was the third track to be written for the album. In an interview with Christopher Walsh of Billboard, Ballard explained how he and Morissette met, and how "Ironic" was written. He commented: "I'm telling you, within 15 minutes we were at it—just writing. 'Ironic' was the third song we wrote. Oh God, we were just having fun. I thought 'I don't know what this is—what genre it is—who knows? It's just good‍ '​".[12] The albums lead single "You Oughta Know" contained a guitar which was contributed by Dave Navarro along with bass that was provided by Flea. Navarro and Flea created the song in the studio together and was written with a different instrumentation, the pair were then asked to re-write the music something Navarro described as being "A lot like a re-mix". Speaking about the songs conception Navarro said "The structure of the song was in place but there were no guide tracks, we just had the vocal to work from. It was just a good time and we basically jammed until we found something we were both happy with. Alanis was happy too."[13] 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.


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 was noted as being a departure from Morissette's previous releases, which predominately featured 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.[14]

The album opens with “All I Really Want”. The song features the use of a harmonica, swirly guitars and canned drums and is based in a grunge-pop genre, the songs lyrics talk about “intellectual intercourse” and a mental connection with another angry, frustrated, frightened, uncomfortable soul.[15] “You Oughta Know” features themes of "raw anger and frank portrayal of female sexuality.[15] “Perfect” is a pristine ballad, that talks about "pushy" parents, the following song “Hand In My Pocket” is a cataloging of contradictions set over fuzzy guitar and a ‘90s drum machine, the song also portrays a lighter side to Morissette, with lyrics that touch upon themes of self-effacing and hopefulness side.[15] “Right Through You” is a nondescript grunge song whilst “Forgiven” was compared to the work of Madonna, due to its Catholic undertones.[15] “You Learn” is a mid-tempo self-help rock song, the song features Morissette giving out advice; "Ditch the fear, open your heart, speak your mind, and when the going gets tough, walk around the house naked."[15]

“Head Over Feet” is ballad that contains guitar and drum box backing, with plainspoken vocals, the song lyrically talks about Alanis being a "handful", and that she’s not the type to get emotional.[15] “Mary Jane” is built over a ballad’s tense, and ringing electric guitar, and hears Morissette tries to reassure a friend who’s having a rough go of things.[15] “Ironic” is a pop rock song,[16] set in the time signature of common time, composed in a moderate tempo of eighty-two beats per minute.[17] The song's usage of the word "ironic" attracted media attention for an improper application of the term, because according to Jon Pareles of The New York Times, the song gives a distinct "unironic" sense in its implications.[18][19] According to the Oxford English Dictionary "irony" is "a figure of speech in which the intended meaning is the opposite of that expressed by the words used".[20] Thus, lyrics such as "It's like rain on your wedding day" and "A traffic jam when you're already late" are not ironic.[21] “Not the Doctor” features gnarlier guitars, and features acoustic strumming and languid drum loop with needle-sharp lyrics.[15] The final song Wake Up" takes shape of a cry for help to an apathetic world.[22]

Release and promotion[edit]

Following the success of the album, Morissette embarked on an 18 month tour.

Maverick Records released Jagged Little Pill internationally in 1995. The album was expected only to sell enough for Morissette to make a follow-up, but the situation changed quickly when KROQ-FM, an influential Los Angeles modern rock radio station, began playing "You Oughta Know", the album's first single.[23] The song instantly garnered attention for its scathing, explicit lyrics,[6] and a subsequent music video went into heavy rotation on MTV and MuchMusic. After the success of "You Oughta Know", the album's other hit singles helped send Jagged Little Pill to the top of the charts. "All I Really Want" and "Hand in My Pocket" followed, but the fourth U.S. single, "Ironic", became Morissette's biggest hit. "You Learn" and "Head over Feet", the fifth and sixth singles, respectively, kept Jagged Little Pill (1995) in the top twenty on the Billboard 200 albums chart for more than a year.

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.[24] 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.[25] It had won a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video.[26]

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.[27] 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. On October 30, 2015, Jagged Little Pill was reissued by Rhino Records and Warner Music Group to mark its 20th anniversary. A two-disc deluxe edition contains a newly remastered version of the album, appended with ten demo recordings, two of which were previously released on the "Joining You" single in 1999. A limited four-disc collector's edition also adds 2005's Acoustic album and a full live concert recorded in London at Subterranea on September 28, 1995.[28] As with the Acoustic release, this edition also updated the cover artwork; this time presented in white & gold and labeled as "Jagged Little Pill • Collector's Edition".

Commercial performance[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.[29] It was certified 16× Platinum for shipments of 16 million copies. On the week ending June 21, 2015 the album sold 5,000 bringing the sales to just over 15 million, making the album one of only three albums to have sold at least 15 million copies in the United States since Nielsen Music began tracking data in 1991.[30] and a further 350,000 units through BMG music club.[31] The album also peaked at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling over 2 million copies, being certified 2× Diamond.[32]

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.[33] It was certified 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.[34] The album had been certified 14× Platinum, selling over 200,000 copies. It is currently the 14th best selling album in New Zealand.[35]

In Europe, the album peaked at number six on the French Albums Chart, staying in the charts for 37 weeks.[36] It was certified 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.[37] The album was certified 10× Platinum, shipping over 3 million copies.[38] Overall, the album sold 33 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the most successful albums in music history. 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. As of 2009, it has sold 33 million copies worldwide.[39]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
The Buffalo News 4/5 stars[40]
Chicago Tribune 2/4 stars[41]
Christgau's Consumer Guide B+[42]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[43]
Entertainment Weekly C+[44]
Melody Maker 7/10[45]
Q 4/5 stars[46]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4.5/5 stars[47]
Sputnikmusic 5.0/5[48]

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."[1] 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."[42]

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."[44] 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".[49]


The album received numerous awards and accolades. Morissette and the album won six Juno Awards in 1996, including the Album of the Year, Single of the Year for "You Oughta Know", Female Vocalist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Best Rock Album.[50] At the 1996 Grammy Awards, she won Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, Best Rock Song (both for "You Oughta Know"), Best Rock Album and Album of the Year.[51] "Ironic" was nominated for two 1997 Grammy AwardsRecord of the Year and Best Music Video, Short Form[52]—and won Single of the Year at the 1997 Juno Awards, where Morissette also won Songwriter of the Year and the International Achievement Award.[53] The video Jagged Little Pill, Live, which was co-directed by Morissette and chronicled the bulk of her tour, won a 1998 Grammy Award for Best Music Video, Long Form.[54]

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".[3] The album also appears on the National Association of Recording Merchandisers' "Definitive 200" list at number 26. The album ranked at number 50 on Rolling Stone‍ '​s 2012 list of "Women Who Rock: The 50 Greatest Albums of All Time".[4] The album was included on Billboard " Best Selling Pop album of the 1990s" were it was placed at number one.[39][55] After peaking at number one US Billboard 200, Alanis became the first Canadian woman to top the Billboard 200.[56] ' Morissette's success with Jagged Little Pill (1995) was credited with leading to the introduction of female singers such as Shakira, Meredith Brooks, and in the early 2000s, Pink, Michelle Branch, and fellow Canadian Avril Lavigne.[57]

Track listing[edit]

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

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" (Jimmy the Saint Blend) / "Your House" (Hidden track) 8:13
Total length:
20th anniversary collector's edition
Disc 2: Demos
No. Title Length
1. "The Bottom Line"   4:11
2. "Superstar Wonderful Weirdos" (Morissette, Ballard, Terrance Sawchuk) 4:23
3. "Closer Than You Might Believe"   3:35
4. "No Avalon"   4:21
5. "Comfort" (Morissette, Ballard, Sawchuk) 4:05
6. "Gorgeous"   4:03
7. "King of Intimidation"   3:19
8. "Death of Cinderella"   3:15
9. "London"   4:32
10. "These Are the Thoughts"   3:16
Total length:


The following people contributed to Jagged Little Pill:[59]

  • Alanis Morissette – harmonica (tracks 1,4,8), vocals (all tracks)
  • Glen Ballard – guitar (tracks 1,3,4,7,8,9,10,11,12), keyboards (tracks 1,4,6,7,8,11,12), programming (tracks 1,2,7,12)
  • Dave Navarro – guitar on "You Oughta Know"
  • Basil Fung – guitar (tracks 3,10)
  • Michael Landau – guitar on "Forgiven"
  • Joel Shearer – guitar on "Right Through You"
  • Lance Morrison – bass on "Perfect", "Right Through You", "Forgiven", "Mary Jane", "Ironic", "Wake Up"
  • Flea – bass on "You Oughta Know"
  • Michael Thompson – organ (tracks 3,10)
  • Benmont Tench – organ (tracks 2,5,6,7,9,12)
  • Rob Ladd – percussion on "Ironic", drums (tracks 3,10)
  • Matt Laug – drums (tracks 2,5,6,9,12)
  • Gota Yashiki – groove activator on "All I Really Want"
  • Glen Ballard – producer, engineering, mixing
  • Ted Blaisdell – additional engineering
  • David Schiffman – additional engineering
  • Victor McCoy – assistant engineer
  • Rich Weingart – assistant engineer
  • Chris Fogel – engineering and mixing
  • Francis Buckley – additional mixing
  • Jolie Levine – production coordination
  • Chris Bellman – mastering
  • Tom Recchion – art direction, design
  • John Patrick Salisbury – photography



Region Certification Sales/shipments
Argentina (CAPIF)[81] Platinum 60,000x
Australia (ARIA)[82] 14× Platinum 1,020,000[83]
Austria (IFPI Austria)[84] 2× Platinum 100,000x
Brazil (ABPD)[85] Gold 100,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[86] 2× Diamond 2,000,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[87] Platinum 65,860[87]
France (SNEP)[88] Platinum 411,600[89]
Germany (BVMI)[90] 2× Platinum 1,000,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[91] 4× Platinum 400,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[92] Platinum 15,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[93] Platinum 50,000*
Poland (ZPAV)[94] Gold 50,000*
Sweden (GLF)[95] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[96] Platinum 50,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[97] 10× Platinum 2,713,637[98]
United States (RIAA)[99] 16× Platinum 15,350,000[30][31]
Europe (IFPI)[100] 7× Platinum 7,000,000*
Worldwide 33,000,000[39]

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


  • 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 Oughta 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 Oughta Know" as a double A-side single.

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ "38th Annual Grammy Awards - 1996". Rock On The Net. 1996-02-28. Retrieved 2011-09-19. 
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  7. ^ Wild, David. "Adventures Of Miss Thing". Rolling Stone. November 2, 1995.
  8. ^ a b c d "Interview With Scott Welch". HitQuarters. August 6, 2002. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Billboard Magazine - June 30, 2001". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
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  12. ^ Walsh, Christopher (June 30, 2001). "Boutique Distributors Make Noise Under The Radar". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 113 (26): 38. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  13. ^ Navarro, Dave (April 26, 2010). "Sunday 10". 6767. Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
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  16. ^ "Ironic – Alanis Morissette". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved November 30, 2010. 
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  18. ^ Waltonen, Karma; Du Vernay, Denise (2010). The Simpsons in the classroom: embiggening the learning experience with the wisdom of Springfield (XVIII ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc. Publishers. p. 277. ISBN 978-0-7864-4490-8. OCLC 492091426. 
  19. ^ Pareles, Jon (May 16, 2004). "MUSIC; The Solipsisters Sing Out Once Again". The New York Times Company. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
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  21. ^ Horberry, Roger (2010). Sounds Good on Paper: How to Bring Business Language to Life (XVII ed.). London, England: A & C Black Publishers Ldt. p. 136. ISBN 978-1-4081-2231-0. OCLC 659730168. A common misconception is that 'ironic' is a direct synonym for coincidental. The lyrics of Alanis Morissette's UK top 11 (and US top five) hit Ironic describe a number of apparently ironic situations, each verse ending with the refrain 'Isn't it ironic?' To which the answer must be a polite but firm 'no', as the lyrics are in fact a succinct explanation of what irony isn't. How ironic. 
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  25. ^ "Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill - Live (Video 1997)". IMDb. 
  26. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0167757/awards
  27. ^ McMartin, Trent (June 13, 2005). "HMV To Boycott Alanis Morissette". Soulshine (Canada). 
  28. ^ "Jagged Little Pill: Collector's Edition". Rhino Records. Retrieved August 8, 2015. 
  29. ^ Paul Grein (May 28, 2014). "Chart Watch: Coldplay Sets 2014 Sales Record". Yahoo Chart Watch. 
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