Jagged Little Pill
|Jagged Little Pill|
|Studio album by Alanis Morissette|
|Released||June 13, 1995|
|Studio||Westlake Recording Studios and Signet Sound, Hollywood|
|Alanis Morissette chronology|
|Singles from Jagged Little Pill|
Jagged Little Pill is the third album and international debut album by Canadian singer Alanis Morissette, first released on June 13, 1995, through Maverick Records. Morissette had released two successful albums in Canada, after which she left MCA Records Canada and was introduced to manager Scott Welch. Morissette began work on her next album after moving from her hometown, Ottawa, to Toronto; she did not make much progress until she traveled to Los Angeles, where she met Glen Ballard. Morissette and Ballard had an instant connection, and began co-writing and experimenting with sounds.
The experimentation resulted in an alternative rock album that took influence from post-grunge and pop rock, and featured guitars, keyboards, drum machines, and harmonica. The album's lyrics touched upon themes of aggression and unsuccessful relationships, while Ballard introduced a pop sensibility to Morissette's bitter angst. The album title is taken from the lyric of the "You Learn" track. The album went on to be a huge success, topping the charts in ten countries; it has sold more than 33 million units worldwide and ranks as one of the best-selling albums of all time. With Jagged Little Pill, Morissette became the first Canadian to have a double diamond album.
Jagged Little Pill received acclaim from music critics and was nominated for 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, until 2010. Rolling Stone ranked Jagged Little Pill at number 327 on its list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" in 2003.
- 1 Background
- 2 Recording
- 3 Content
- 4 Release and promotion
- 5 Critical reception
- 6 Commercial performance
- 7 Impact
- 8 Track listing
- 9 Personnel
- 10 Charts
- 11 Certifications
- 12 Notes
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
In 1991, MCA Records Canada released Morissette's debut studio album Alanis, which went Platinum in Canada. Her second album Now Is the Time was a commercial failure, selling only a little more than half the copies of her first album. With her two-album deal 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. Welch told HitQuarters he was impressed by her "spectacular voice", her character and her lyrics. At the time she was still living with her parents in Ottawa. Together they decided it would be best for her career to move to Toronto and start writing with other people.
After graduating from high school, Morissette made the move. 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. 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 approached passed on Morissette apart from Maverick.
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 used the original demo vocals.
Ballard met Morissette 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. 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." The first track the pair wrote was "The Bottom Line", which was not included on the album's initial 1995 release, but was included on the album's 2015 re-release. The song was written in one hour, immediately after they met.
The album's 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'". The album's 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 song's 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." 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.
Jagged Little Pill was noted as being a departure from Morissette's previous releases, which predominantly 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.
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 song's lyrics talk about "intellectual intercourse" and a mental connection with another angry, frustrated, frightened, uncomfortable soul. "You Oughta Know" features themes of "raw anger and frank portrayal of female sexuality. "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. "Right Through You" is a nondescript grunge song whilst "Forgiven" was compared to the work of Madonna, due to its Catholic undertones. "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."
"Head Over Feet" is ballad that contains guitar and drum box backing, with plainspoken vocals, the song lyrically talks about Morissette being a "handful", and that she's not the type to get emotional. "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. "Ironic" is a pop rock song, set in the time signature of common time, composed in a moderate tempo of eighty-two beats per minute. 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. 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". Thus, lyrics such as "It's like rain on your wedding day" and "A traffic jam when you're already late" are not ironic. "Not the Doctor" features gnarlier guitars, and features acoustic strumming and languid drum loop with needle-sharp lyrics. The final song "Wake Up" takes shape of a cry for help to an apathetic world.
Release and promotion
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 lead single. The song instantly garnered attention for its scathing, explicit lyrics, 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. 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. It had won a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video.
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. 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. 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".
|Christgau's Consumer Guide||B+|
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|Los Angeles Times|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Jagged Little Pill received general acclaim from 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." 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."
David Browne of Entertainment Weekly gave it a middling review, stating that the album "is [a 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." 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".
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. 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. and a further 350,000 units through BMG music club. The album also peaked at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling over 2 million copies, being certified 2× Diamond.
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. It was certified 14× Platinum, selling over 980,000 copies there. It is currently the 11th 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. The album had been certified 14× Platinum, selling over 200,000 copies. It is currently the 14th best selling album in New Zealand.
In Europe, the album peaked at number six on the French Albums Chart, staying in the charts for 37 weeks. 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. The album was certified 10× Platinum, shipping over 3 million copies. 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[update], it has sold 33 million copies worldwide.
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. 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. "Ironic" was nominated for two 1997 Grammy Awards — Record of the Year and Best Music Video, Short Form—and won Single of the Year at the 1997 Juno Awards, where Morissette also won Songwriter of the Year and the International Achievement Award. 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.
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". The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. 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". The album was included on Billboard's " Best Selling Pop album of the 1990s" where it was placed at number one. The album peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200, making Morissette the first Canadian woman to top the chart.
Morissette's success with Jagged Little Pill (1995) was credited with leading to the introduction of female singers such as Shakira, Tracy Bonham, Meredith Brooks, and in the early 2000s, Pink, Michelle Branch, and fellow Canadian Avril Lavigne. American singer Katy Perry cites Jagged Little Pill as a significant musical inspiration, and opted to work with Morissette's frequent collaborator Ballard as a result. Perry stated, "Jagged Little Pill was the most perfect female record ever made. There's a song for anyone on that record; I relate to all those songs. They're still so timeless."
All lyrics written by Alanis Morissette; all music composed by Morissette and Glen Ballard, except where noted.
|1.||"All I Really Want"||4:45|
|2.||"You Oughta Know"||4:09|
|4.||"Hand in My Pocket"||3:42|
|5.||"Right Through You"||2:56|
|8.||"Head over Feet"||4:27|
|11.||"Not the Doctor"||3:48|
|13.||"You Oughta Know" (Jimmy the Saint Blend) / "Your House (a cappella)" (Hidden track)||8:13|
|12.||"Wake Up" / "Your House (Acappella)" (Hidden track)||8:56|
|13.||"Perfect" (Acoustic version)||3:06|
- 20th anniversary collector's edition
|Disc 2: Demos|
|1.||"The Bottom Line"||4:11|
|2.||"Superstar Wonderful Weirdos" (Morissette, Ballard, Terrance Sawchuk)||4:23|
|3.||"Closer Than You Might Believe"||3:35|
|5.||"Comfort" (Morissette, Sawchuk)||4:05|
|7.||"King of Intimidation"||3:20|
|8.||"Death of Cinderella"||3:15|
|10.||"These Are the Thoughts"||3:16|
|Disc 3: Jagged Little Pill Acoustic|
|1.||"All I Really Want" (Acoustic)||5:24|
|2.||"You Oughta Know" (Acoustic)||4:58|
|4.||"Hand in My Pocket" (Acoustic)||4:32|
|5.||"Right Through You" (Acoustic)||3:40|
|7.||"You Learn" (Acoustic)||4:10|
|8.||"Head over Feet" (Acoustic)||4:17|
|9.||"Mary Jane" (Acoustic)||5:08|
|11.||"Not the Doctor" (Acoustic)||4:26|
|12.||"Wake Up" / "Your House" (Acoustic)||9:56|
|Disc 4: Live at Subterranea, London 09/28/95|
|1.||"All I Really Want" (Live)||8:18|
|2.||"Right Through You" (Live)||4:06|
|3.||"Not the Doctor" (Live)||6:47|
|4.||"Hand in My Pocket" (Live)||4:43|
|5.||"Mary Jane" (Live)||6:39|
|7.||"You Learn" (Live)||5:06|
|9.||"You Oughta Know" (Live)||5:23|
|10.||"Wake Up" (Live)||8:07|
|11.||"Head over Feet" (Live)||4:23|
The following people contributed to Jagged Little Pill:
|Australia (ARIA)||14× Platinum||1,020,000|
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||2× Platinum||100,000*|
|Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)||2× Platinum||500,000*|
|Canada (Music Canada)||2× Diamond||2,000,000^|
|Germany (BVMI)||2× Platinum||1,000,000^|
|Netherlands (NVPI)||4× Platinum||400,000^|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Platinum||15,000^|
|Norway (IFPI Norway)||Platinum||50,000*|
|Sweden (GLF)||2× Platinum||200,000^|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||Platinum||50,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||10× Platinum||2,742,868|
|United States (RIAA)||16× Platinum||15,350,000|
|Europe (IFPI)||7× Platinum||7,000,000*|
*sales 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.
- List of best-selling albums
- List of best-selling albums in Australia
- List of best-selling albums in New Zealand
- List of best-selling albums in the United States
- List of best-selling albums in the United Kingdom
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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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Thanks to Peter Howell, rock critic for The Toronto Star, for noting that Morissette is the first Canadian female artist to have a No. 1 album in America.
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