Precious Illusions

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"Precious Illusions"
Alanis Morissette - Precious Illusions.png
Single by Alanis Morissette
from the album Under Rug Swept
B-side "Sorry 2 Myself" "Offer" "Bent 4 U"
Released August 5, 2002 (CD1)
October 29, 2002 (CD2)
Format CD single
Genre Pop rock
Length 3:50 (radio edit)
4:11 (album version)
Label Maverick
Writer(s) Alanis Morissette
Producer(s) Alanis Morissette
Alanis Morissette singles chronology
"Hands Clean"
"Precious Illusions"

"Precious Illusions" is a song written, recorded and produced by Alanis Morissette, for her fifth album Under Rug Swept (2002). It released as the album's second and final international single on 5 August 2002. Its lyrics describe a conflict between idealism and realism, and its protagonist refers to her childhood fancies as "precious illusions" that she has distanced herself from with a feeling that reminds her of "parting with an imaginary friend".

"Precious Illusions" didn't receive as much radio airplay in the U.S. as "Hands Clean", the first single from Under Rug Swept. It peaked within the top 20 on Billboard's Adult Top 40 chart, but garnered little Top 40 radio play compared to "Hands Clean" and failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it reached number four in Canada and the top ten in Chile. The music video for the song is presented in split screen, offering a side-by-side comparison of the mythic and the real versions of a romantic relationship.

Recording and release[edit]

"Precious Illusions" was all written, arranged and produced by Alanis Morissette. According to herself, "I went to Toronto to write and I didn't know whether I'd be writing songs for the record alone or with someone. I had no idea, but I started writing alone, and within the first week I'd written seven songs. So it was all really fast and accelerated [...] I'd have my little space station worked out where it was like a keyboard, an acoustic, an electric, my journal and a microphone set up, and we'd record it all onto DAT."[1] After the success of previous single, "Hands Clean", "Precious Illusions" was announced as Under Rug Swept's second single after news that she was shooting its music video.[2] It was released on 27 May 2002.[3] The first part of its CD single was released on 5 August 2002[4] and the second part of was released on 29 October 2002.[5]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

"Precious Illusions" was written in the key of E major, with a moderately tempo of 92 beats per minute. Morissette's vocal range span from the low note of B4 to the high-note of C6.[6] The song is "dressed up in toe-tapping rhythms, crunchy guitars and downright infectious melodies," as noted by Sal Cinquemani, editor of Slant Magazine.[7] Larry Flick of Billboard Magazine added that the song has a "radio-ready arrangement rife with insinuating shuffle beats, U2-esque guitar licks, and a sticky, candy-sweet hook."[8] The song "examines the pitfalls of relationships.[8] In an interview for Yahoo! Music, Morissette said of "Precious Illusions": "As I evolve and as I grow older, a lot of the things I thought to be truths when I was younger just really aren't, and that's disillusioning. And there is a grief and a loss of sorts that happens when I segue from one awareness to another. And that's what I was singing about on that song."[2]

Its lyrics describe a conflict between idealism and realism, and its protagonist refers to her childhood fancies as "precious illusions" that she has distanced herself from with a feeling that reminds her of "parting with an imaginary friend". Nonetheless, she demonstrates that she has retained a rose-tinted sense of romantic optimism into adulthood, when she expresses a yearning hope for marriage ("this ring") and a husband ("you knight in shining armor").[9] Flick of Billboard also noted that "there's a pointed edge of cynicism in such lines as "You'll complete me, right?/And my life can finally begin'." He also noted that Morissette "turn that cynicism into a catalyst for letting go of the notion of perfect romance and growing toward positive declarations like 'I won't keep playing the victim."[8]

In a track-by-track commentary about Under Rug Swept, Morissette further commented about the track:



Larry Flick of Billboard praised the song for "exemplif[ying] how the artist has actually matured significantly," also calling it a "sane self-empowerment". Flick also noted that Morissette "sells the song with a performance that is, by turns, introspective and chest-pounding."[8] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine praised the track for being "super-catchy,"[11] while Chris Heath of Dotmusic lauded the track for "confirm[ing] that, as a songwriter, Alanis is only getting better."[12]


"Precious Illusions" became a success in Canada, where it peaked at number four,[13] and Hungary, reaching number nine.[14] In Australia, the song debuted and peaked at number 41, on 2 June 2002.[15] Although only reaching number 79 in Netherlands, the song managed to spend 6 weeks inside the charts.[16] In the United Kingdom, "Precious Illusions" only reached numnber 59, becoming her lowest-charting single "All I Really Want" (1996).[17] In the United States, the song failed to enter the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but reached number 12 on the Adult Pop Songs.[13]

Music video[edit]

The single's music video was directed by Francis Lawrence, who helmed the "Hands Clean" video. It was filmed in late May 2002 and uses a split-screen effect.[2] In the video for "Precious Illusions," Alanis Morissette is courted by a handsome prince (played by American actor Lucas Babin) who gives her a diamond and invites her to live happily ever after. However, while the left side of the screen follows the fairy-tale romance, the right side shows more a realistic view: in place of the prince, her suitor is a guy who asks her out by e-mail. As noted by Elysa Lee of CNN, "he does propose, but in a way that reminds us that love isn't all blossoms and butterflies."[18] According to Morissette, "The right side is more me. I'm not anywhere near being in a position to ask or be asked, so it was charming and amusing."[18]

Track listings[edit]

  1. "Precious Illusions"
  2. "Hands Clean" (acoustic)
  3. "Sorry 2 Myself"
  1. "Precious Illusions"
  2. "Offer"
  3. "Bent 4 U"


Chart (2002) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[15] 41
Canada (CANOE)[13] 4
Chile Top 20 9
Germany (Media Control)[19] 77
Hungary (Mahasz)[14] 9
Netherlands (MegaCharts)[16] 79
Switzerland (Hitparade)[20] 95
United Kingdom (The Official Chart Company)[17] 53
US Billboard Adult Pop Songs[13] 16


  1. ^ Vineyeard, Jennifer. "Alanis Morissette: The Silence is Over". MTV News. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Weiss, Neil. "Alanis Morissette Shoots 'Illusions' Video". Yahoo! Music. June 11, 2002. Retrieved August 18, 2006.
  3. ^ "Precious Illusions - Alanis Morissette | Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  4. ^ " Precious Illusions Pt.1". Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  5. ^ " Precious Illusions Pt.2". Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "Alanis Morissette "Precious Illusions" - Sheet Music". Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  7. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (27 January 2002). "Alanis Morissette: Under Rug Swept | Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Reviews & Previews: Singles". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 114 (23): 36. 8 June 2002. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  9. ^ "Alanis Morissette - Precious Illusions Lyrics | MetroLyrics". MetroLyrics. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "Alanis Morissette talks about songs from 'UNDER RUG SWEPT'". MSO. Archived from the original on January 24, 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2014. 
  11. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (27 January 2002). "Alanis Morissette: Under Rug Swept | Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  12. ^ Heath, Chris (4 March 2002). "dotmusic - reviews - albums - Alanis Morissette 'Under Rug Swept' (Maverick)". Dotmusic. Archived from the original on December 11, 2003. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c d "Alanis Morissette: Awards - AllMusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  14. ^ a b "Hungarian Singles Chart". Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  15. ^ a b "Alanis Morissette - Precious Illusions". Australian Recording Industry Association. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  16. ^ a b "Alanis Morissette - Precious Illusions" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  17. ^ a b "Alanis Morissette UK chart history". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  18. ^ a b Lee, Elysa (21 June 2002). " - Alanis Morissette: 'Precious Illusions'". CNN. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  19. ^ "Alanis Morissette German Charts" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  20. ^ "Alanis Morissette - Precious Illusions". Media Control. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-08-21. 

External links[edit]