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
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. It was released on June 13, 1995, through Maverick Records, and was her first album released internationally. Her first studio album after a three-year hiatus and split from MCA Records, Jagged Little Pill was co-written with the album's producer, Glen Ballard, who introduced a pop sensibility to Morissette's bitter angst.[1] The record produced six successful singles, including "You Oughta Know", "Ironic", "You Learn", "Hand in My Pocket", and "Head over Feet".

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 Ballard. The album was a worldwide success, topping the charts in ten countries, including the UK, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, and the Netherlands; it was number one in her native Canada for 24 weeks, as well as number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 for 13 non-consecutive weeks. By 2009, the album had sold over 33 million units/copies worldwide,[2] and was ranked among top 100 on many countries' best-selling records of all time lists. Billboard further ranked the album as the number one Best Selling Pop album of the 1990s.[3]

Jagged Little Pill received acclaim from music critics, with many praising the album's talent and lyrical content. The album was nominated for a total of nine Grammy Awards, of which Morissette won five, including: Best Rock Album; Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song for "You Oughta Know"; and Album of the Year, making her, at age 21, the youngest artist in history to win the honor—a record she held for 14 years until Taylor Swift won for her album Fearless at age 20. Morissette also received Grammy nominations for Song of the Year (for "You Oughta Know") and Best New Artist.[4]

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".[5] 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".[6]


In 1991, MCA Records Canada released Morissette's debut studio album Alanis, which went Platinum in Canada.[7] 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.[8][9] 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.[10] 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.[10]

After graduating from high school, Morissette moved from Ottawa to Toronto.[8] 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.[8][10] 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.[10]

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 using 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.[11]

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.[12]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Chicago Tribune 2/4 stars[13]
Christgau's Consumer Guide B+[14]
Entertainment Weekly C+[15]
The Great Rock Discography 9/10[16]
Q 4/5 stars[17]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4.5/5 stars[18]
Sputnikmusic 5.0/5[19]

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."[14]

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."[15] 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".[20]


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".[5] 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".[6]

Morissette and the album won six Juno Awards in 1996: Album of the Year, Single of the Year ("You Oughta Know"), Female Vocalist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Best Rock Album.[21] 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.[22] "Ironic" was nominated for two 1997 Grammy AwardsRecord of the Year and Best Music Video, Short Form[23]—and won Single of the Year at the 1997 Juno Awards, where Morissette also won Songwriter of the Year and the International Achievement Award.[24] 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.[25]

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.[26] It was certified 16× Platinum for shipments of 16 million copies, and has sold 15 million copies according Nielsen SoundScan,[27] and a further 350,000 units through BMG music club.[28] The album also peaked at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling over 2 million copies, being certified 2× Diamond.[29]

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.[30] 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.[31] The album had been certified 14× Platinum, selling over 200,000 copies. It is currently the 14th best selling album in New Zealand.[32]

In Europe, the album peaked at number six on the French Albums Chart, staying in the charts for 37 weeks.[33] 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.[34] The album was certified 10× Platinum, shipping over 3 million copies.[35] 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.[36] 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.[37] It had won a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video.[38] 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.[2]

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.[39] 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, 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 (Alternate Take)" (contains hidden track "Your House (A Cappella)") 8:13
Total length:

Jagged Little Pill: Collector's Edition[edit]

On October 30, 2015, Jagged Little Pill will be reissued on Rhino Records to mark its 20th anniversary. A two-disc deluxe edition will contain a newly remastered version of the album, appended with ten previously unreleased demos,[41] with a four-disc collector’s edition adding 2005's Acoustic album and a full live concert recorded in London at Subterranea on September 28, 1995.


The following people contributed to Jagged Little Pill:[42]


  • 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

Charts and certifications[edit]


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 13 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 8 3 25
1997 "All I Really Want" 40 2 59 58 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 Oughta 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 Oughta to Know" as a double A-side single.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]