Thank U

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"Thank U"
Alanis Morissette - Thank U.png
Single by Alanis Morissette
from the album Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie
B-side"Pollyanna Flower" "Uninvited"
ReleasedOctober 13, 1998
FormatCD single
Songwriter(s)Alanis Morissette, Glen Ballard
Producer(s)Alanis Morissette, Glen Ballard
Alanis Morissette singles chronology
"Thank U"
"Joining You"
Audio sample
A sample from Alanis Morissette's "Thank U"
Music video
"Thank U" on YouTube

"Thank U" is a song by Canadian recording artist and songwriter Alanis Morissette, for her fourth studio album Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (1998). The song was written by Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard, who produced her previous album, Jagged Little Pill (1995). Morissette wrote the song after she came back from India.

The song received generally positive reviews from music critics and also performed well on the record charts, becoming Morissette's fifth number-one single in Canada, reaching the top three in Iceland, New Zealand and Norway, and peaking within the top ten in several other countries, including the United Kingdom, where it is her highest-charting single. An accompanying music video was released for the single, featuring Morissette nude in the streets. The song was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 2000 Grammy Awards.

Background and release[edit]

After the massive success of her breakthrough album Jagged Little Pill (1995) (which spawned the worldwide hits, "You Oughta Know", "Ironic", "Head over Feet", "Hand in My Pocket" and "You Learn"), Morissette was considered one of the biggest music stars in the world, and many fans anxiously awaited a follow-up album. During a trip to India, in 1997, Alanis wrote some songs, including "Thank U". In 1998, Morissette contributed with the song "Uninvited" for the soundtrack of the 1998 film City of Angels.[1]

In September of the same year, "Thank U" was released on radio and Alanis talked with MTV about the break between LPs and the first single: "Basically, I had never stopped in my whole life, hadn't taken a long breath, and I took a year and a half off and basically learned how to do that. When I did stop and I was silent and I breathed... I was just left with an immense amount of gratitude, and inspiration, and love, and bliss, and that's where the song came from, you know."[1]

Composition and writing[edit]

"Thank U" was written and produced by Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard. "Thank U" is a rock song composed in the key of C major. It is written in common time and moves at a moderate tempo of 91 beats per minute. The song uses a simple chord progression alternating between a tonic C major chord, dominant G major chord, and the subdominant F major chord.[2] The music of "Thank U" is simple, mid-tempo rock fare, with the drum track being a loop of the oft-sampled break in Sly and the Family Stone's 'Sing a Simple Song'. A delicate electric piano intro underscores Morissette's vocals, which begin by asking, "How bout getting off these antibiotics?" The rest of the song continues with Morissette posing similar provocative questions -- "How bout remembering your divinity?"—and her thanking the circumstances—terror, disillusionment, and consequence, among others—that helped her achieve personal growth.[3]

Lyrically, the song documents the singer's spiritual awakenings, resultant from her trip to India, as well as other physical and internal journeys. In "Thank U", Alanis expresses the heartfelt gratitude, inspiration, and compassion that she felt at the time she wrote it.[4] According to Jon Pareles of The New York Times, the song has "verses of self-help," such as, "How 'bout no longer being masochistic?, how 'bout remembering your divinity?, how 'bout unabashedly bawling your eyes out?."[5] Liana Jones of Allmusic noticed that "There aren't many artists, let alone everyday people, who acknowledge and pay tribute to life's lessons."[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic picked the song as a highlight from the album, writing that "the textured production functions as a backdrop for Morissette's cryptically introspective lyrics."[6] Liana Jones also of Allmusic wrote that the song's lyrics are "a real boon for contemporary rock music, which tends to be simplistic and hackneyed in its themes."[3] Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly wrote that the song's structure "creates an immediate catchiness, underpinned and emphasized by Gary Novak's hypnotic drum pattern." Tucker also called 'Thank U,' "a terrific single, with its positive sentiments tucked inside a crystalline melody like a message in a bottle."[7]

Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone wrote that the song "could've been a pretentious disaster, but instead it's a pretentious stroke of brilliance – she finds something shockingly smart to say about her spiritual crises, riding an indelible Eighties AOR synth hook and wailing like Robert Plant stealing 'Kashmir' back from Jimmy Page and 'Puffy'.[8] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine called the "soft-rock synth hook" and "the bundle of Morissette's signature list-y lyrics," "anything but ordinary." [9] NME praised the "pleasant, lilting Liz Cocteau-on-a-broomstick style frame."[10] Larry Flick of Billboard praised Alanis's performance, acknowledging her "zen-like confidence", calling it "an instantly memorable single that will saturate radio airwaves at all possible formats within a split-second."[11]

Chart performance[edit]

"Thank U" is Morissette's most commercially successful single post-Jagged Little Pill. It debuted first on the Billboard's Hot 100 Airplay chart at number 42.[12] A week later, it debuted on the Modern Rock Tracks at number 19.[13] The same week, the song climbed to number 11 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart,[13] On the issue of November 28, 1998, "Thank U" topped the Adult Top 40 Tracks chart.[14] On the Billboard Hot 100 chart, "Thank U" peaked at number 17, on the issue date December 5, 1998.[15] In Canada, "Thank U" topped the RPM Top Singles chart for three consecutive weeks (six weeks if counting the holiday period in which no charts were published), becoming her fifth number-one single there.[16]

"Thank U" was also successful in the Oceania region. In Australia, it debuted at number 20 and peaked at number 15 on the ARIA Singles Chart, becoming the album's only single that charted there.[17] In New Zealand, the song proved to be more successful, debuting at number six and peaking at number two, becoming Morissette's highest charting-single in New Zealand, until "Hands Clean" peaked at number one in 2002.[18] In Austria, it peaked at number 10, becoming her last top-ten single,[19] while in Norway, "Thank U" was her highest charting-single, peaking at number three.[20] In the United Kingdom, the song was the highest charting-single of Morissette's career, peaking at number five.[21] It is her second highest-selling single there, only behind "Ironic", which reached number 11.[22]


"Thank U" was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 2000 Grammy Awards, but lost to Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You".[1] Morissette was nominated for a Juno Award for Songwriter of the Year (for writing the songs "So Pure", "Thank U" and "Unsent") at the 2000 edition. Additionally, the song entered's "Top 10 Alanis Morissette Lyrics" list at number 3, with Bill Lamb picking the lyrics, "How about me not blaming you for everything/How about me enjoying the moment for once/How about how good it feels to finally forgive you/How about grieving it all one at a time" as the best.[23]

ReDigi website also listed the "Top 10 Alanis Morissette Songs", picking "Thank U" as her third best song, writing that, "Most of the attention might have been focused on its revealing video, but the angst-ridden melancholy of 'Thank You' works just as well without images of Alanis wandering the streets in her birthday suit."[24]

Music video[edit]

A stranger (actor/producer Sanjay Pandya) places his hand on Morissette as she stands in the middle of the street.

The music video was directed by Stéphane Sednaoui (who previously directed "Ironic" for Morrisette) and premiered on October 12, 1998 on MTV's Total Request Live.[25] It features Morissette walking around and being embraced by strangers in a variety of public locations, such as in the street, at a supermarket, and on a subway car.[26] Throughout the video, Morissette is completely nude with her long hair shrouding her breasts and her pubic region blurred out.[27] Slight modifications to the video were made before broadcasting by MTV in India and certain other Asian countries. Subsequent replays, however, aired the video in its original format. In May 2001, the video was voted #66 on VH1's 100 Greatest Videos.[1]

While being asked why she chose to be nude in the video, Morissette said, "Actually, the idea for that video hit me in my shower - I was thinking about the song and its simplicity and its baring itself, and I just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could just walk around New York City or grocery stores in just a symbolism of being naked everywhere I went?’. Less about overt sexuality and more about the symbolism of being really raw and naked and intimate in all these environments where you’d seemingly need protection, like in a subway and those kinds of places. So that hit me in the shower and then we executed it." It was filmed in Downtown Los Angeles, under a closed set. [28]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Thank U" (album version) – 4:19
  2. "Pollyanna Flower" (unreleased bonus track) – 4:07
  3. "Uninvited" (demo) – 3:04

Charts and certifications[edit]

Cover versions and parodies[edit]

  • "Thank U" was covered by English progressive rock musician Steven Wilson (who jokingly changed the line "How about them transparent dangling carrots" to "How about changing a line 'cause it don't make sense").[55] Blackfield, one of Wilson's bands, has regularly played the song on tour.[56]
  • On an episode of Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon appeared on the "Weekend Update" segment in which he sang various parody songs about Halloween. One such song was a parody of "Thank U", in which he thanks all of the candy he had received Trick-or-Treating.[57]
  • On MadTV there was a parody, "Wash Me", starring Mo Collins which takes place in a laundromat.[58]
  • On French & Saunders, Jennifer Saunders parodied Morissette with a song called "Bless U", a tribute to thesauri, dictionaries, spell check and other word referencing methods. The clip showed Saunders as a singer called Aimless Morris Minor, dressed in a flesh-coloured body-suit to make it appear as if she were naked. At the end of the sketch Dawn French stuck the pubic hair of the suit onto Saunders's face. This clip was shown as a sketch on French and Saunders 1999 Bank Holiday Special.[59]
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic debuted an unreleased spoof of "Thank U" titled "Fast Food" on his 1999 Running with Scissors tour.[60]


  1. ^ a b c d "Rock On the Net: Alanis Morissette". Rock on the Net. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  2. ^ Sheet music for "Thank U". Hal Leonard Corporation. 1998.
  3. ^ a b c Jonas, Liana. "Alanis Morissette -Thank U: Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  4. ^ "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie". Archived from the original on February 28, 2005. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  5. ^ Pareles, Jon (November 1, 1998). "Alanis Morissette Explores The Healing Power of Song". The New York Times. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  6. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (November 3, 1998). "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie - Alanis Morissette: Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  7. ^ Tucker, Ken (November 2, 1998). "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  8. ^ Sheffield, Rob (December 10, 1998). "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie". Rolling Stone (801). Archived from the original on 2008-12-01. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  9. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (November 5, 2003). "Alanis Morissette: Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie". Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  10. ^ "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie". NME. September 27, 1998. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  11. ^ Billboard - October 3, 1998 Issue. Google Books. p. 24.
  12. ^ Billboard - October 3, 1998 Issue (Airplay Chart). Google Books. p. 34.
  13. ^ a b Billboard - October 17, 1998 Issue. Google Books. p. 24.
  14. ^ Billboard - November 28, 1998 Issue. Google Books. p. 24.
  15. ^ Billboard - December 5, 1998 Issue. Google Books. p. 24.
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  19. ^ a b " – Alanis Morissette – Thank U" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  20. ^ a b " – Alanis Morissette – Thank U". VG-lista. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  21. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  22. ^ Myers, Justin (May 5, 2016). "Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill hit Number 1 20 years ago this week". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  23. ^ Lamb, Bill. "Top 10 Alanis Morissette Lyrics". Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  24. ^ "Re Digi Blog - Top 10 Alanis Morissette Songs". ReDigi. Archived from the original on March 30, 2014. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
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  26. ^ "Alanis Morissette in "Thank You" from Naked Stars in Music Videos". E! Online. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  27. ^ "Back to article: Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Robbie Williams: Singers naked in videos". Digital Spy. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  28. ^ Hamersly, Michael (October 27, 2008). "What you oughta know before seeing Alanis Morissette". PopMatters. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  29. ^ " – Alanis Morissette – Thank U" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
  30. ^ " – Alanis Morissette – Thank U" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
  31. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 7024." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  32. ^ "Music & Media: Eurochart Hot 100" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  33. ^ " – Thank U". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  34. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (NR. 301 Vikuna 4.12. - 11.12. 1998)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  35. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Thank U". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  36. ^ a b "I singoli più venduti del 1998" (in Italian). Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  37. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 44, 1998" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  38. ^ " – Alanis Morissette – Thank U" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  39. ^ "Notowanie nr877" (in Polish). LP3. November 20, 1998. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  40. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  41. ^ " – Alanis Morissette – Thank U". Singles Top 100. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  42. ^ " – Alanis Morissette – Thank U". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  43. ^ a b c d "Alanis Morissette - Billboard Singles". Allmusic and Billboard.
  44. ^ a b "Alanis Morissette - Artist Chart History - Singles". Billboard.
  45. ^ "ARIA Charts - End Of Year Charts - Top 100 Singles 1998". ARIA. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  46. ^ "RPM's Top 100 Hit Tracks of '98" (PDF). RPM. Vol. 63 no. 12. December 14, 1998. p. 20. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  47. ^ "RPM's Top 100 Adult Contemporary Tracks of '98". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  48. ^ "End of Year Charts 1998". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  49. ^ "Najlepsze single na UK Top 40-1998 wg sprzedaży" (in Polish). Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on June 4, 2015. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  50. ^ "RPM 1999 Top 100 Hit Tracks". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
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  52. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1998 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  53. ^ "IFPI Norsk platebransje Trofeer 1993–2011" (in Norwegian). IFPI Norway. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  54. ^ "British single certifications – Alanis Morissette – Thank U". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved January 15, 2019. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Thank U in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  55. ^ "Steven Wilson's Cover Version cover of Alanis Morissette's Thank U". Who Sampled. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  56. ^ "Blackfield — Thank You (Traducida) alanis morissette cover". YouTube. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  57. ^ "SNL Halloween song Weekend Update". YouTube. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  58. ^ "Mad TV — Alanis Morissette — Wash Me". YouTube. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  59. ^ "French and Saunders — Alanis Morissette". YouTube. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  60. ^ "Fast Food — 'Weird Al' Yankovic". YouTube. Retrieved February 15, 2016.

External links[edit]