You Oughta Know

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"You Oughta Know"
Single by Alanis Morissette
from the album Jagged Little Pill
B-side "You Oughta Know" (The Jimmy the Saint Blend) "Perfect" (Acoustic Version) "Wake Up"
Released July 7, 1995
Format CD single, cassette single, 12"
Recorded 1994
Genre Alternative rock, post-grunge
Length 4:09
Label Maverick, Reprise
Writer(s) Alanis Morissette, Glen Ballard
Producer(s) Glen Ballard
Alanis Morissette singles chronology
"(Change Is) Never a Waste of Time"
"You Oughta Know"
"Hand in My Pocket"

"You Oughta Know" is a song by Canadian-American recording artist and songwriter Alanis Morissette, released as the lead single from her third studio album, Jagged Little Pill (1995) on July 7, 1995. After releasing two commercially successful studio albums through MCA Records Canada, Morissette left MCA Records Canada and was introduced to manager Scott Welch. Morissette began working on new music 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 co-wrote the song with the latter producing it, while musicians Flea and Dave Navarro of the Red Hot Chili Peppers played bass and guitar on the track.

The song was the first released track that saw Morissette's departure from bubblegum pop to the alternative rock sound she was later known for. Released to positive reviews from critics, the single managed to outperform the label's initial expectations. KROQ-FM, an influential Los Angeles modern rock radio station, began playing "You Oughta Know", leading to the single receiving commercial success, reaching the top ten in Australia and the United States, where it was a multiformat hit in several different genre charts, and making the top forty in Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

In order to promote the song, an accompanying video was directed by Nick Egan. The single was added in the set list for Morissette's concert tour, Jagged Little Pill World Tour (1995); since then, it has been included in her albums MTV Unplugged (1999), Feast on Scraps (2002), and The Collection, as well as 1997 Grammys and the MTV Unplugged compilation albums. The song went on to receive numerous accolades; in the 1996, the single was nominated for three Grammy Awards, winning the awards for Best Rock Song and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.


In 1991, MCA Records Canada released Morissette's debut studio album Alanis, which went Platinum in Canada.[1] 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.[2][3] 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.[4] 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.[4] After graduating from high school, Morissette moved from Ottawa to Toronto.[2] 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.[2][4] 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.[4]


"Flea and I did that song together in the studio. It was already written with different instrumentation and we were asked to kind of re-write the music... A lot like a re-mix. 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."

Dave Navarro talking about the conception of "You Oughta Know".[5]

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.[6] 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."[7]

"You Oughta Know" was co-writtern by Morissette and Glen Ballard, when writing the song Morissette stated she was writing it from her "subconscious," continuing to state "I wasn't aware of what was coming out of me. I'd go into the booth when the ink wasn't even dry and sing. I'd listen the next day and not really remember it."[8] "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."[9]

Lyrical interpretation[edit]

In an August 2008 interview with the Calgary Sun, actor-comedian Dave Coulier admitted to being the ex-boyfriend portrayed in the song.[10] In 1997 the Boston Herald reported that Coulier "admitted the lines are very close to home. Especially the one about 'an older version of me' and bugging him [Coulier] 'in the middle of dinner.'"[11] In early 2014, Bob Saget said that he was present when Morissette made that call during dinner, although it was not clear whether he was joking or not.[12] Later in 2014, Coulier denied being the subject of the song.[13] In an appearance in Oprah, however, he admitted it had been about him. [14] However, in October 2008, Morissette reiterated her refusal to identify the subject, commenting to a CanWest News Service journalist,

The song has an aggressive tone and piercing vocals.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Well, I've never talked about who my songs were about and I won't, because when I write them they're written for the sake of personal expression. So with all due respect to whoever may see themselves in my songs, and it happens all the time, I never really comment on it because I write these songs for myself, not other people."[15]

Other celebrities have been rumored to be the lover in the song, including: Mike Peluso, hockey player for the New Jersey Devils;[11] Matt LeBlanc, the actor who appeared in the video for Morissette's single "Walk Away" in 1991;[11] and Leslie Howe, a musician and the producer of Morissette's first two albums in the early 1990s.[11]

Release and reception[edit]

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", which was released as the album's first single.[16] The song instantly garnered attention for its scathing, explicit lyrics.[2] After its release "You Oughta Know" was met with positive reviews from critics. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic praised the songs "vengeful" lyrics and stated that the song propelled the album's success and encouraged the public to embrace the "women in rock" movement.[17] Similarly David Browne of Entertainment Weekly praised the singles lyrical content, calling them "spiteful and seething" continuing to state that Morissette was able to turn "jealous bile into something worth hearing."[18]

"You Oughta Know" was ranked at number twelve on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90's in December 2007.[19] In 1996, the single was nominated for three Grammy Awards, winning the awards for Best Rock Song and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance but losing the Grammy Award for Song of the Year to Seal's song "Kiss from a Rose".[citation needed] Additionally, the song entered's "Top 10 Alanis Morissette Lyrics" list at number 3, with Bill Lamb picking the lyrics, "And every time you speak her name, Does she know how you told me, You'd hold me until you died, Till you died, but you're still alive" as the best.[20]

Commercial performance[edit]

Morissette held the record for longest run by a woman atop the Billboard Alternative Songs chart, which was later surpassed by Lorde's "Royals" (2012).

The song was a modest hit in Morissette's native Canada, peaking only at number twenty on the pop charts[21] and number twenty one on the countries rock charts.[22] In RPM. Music journalists have attributed the song's weak chart performance to resistance from Canadian radio programmers,[23] because the aggressive, hard rock nature of the song marked a dramatic shift from Morissette's established image as a teen dance-pop star.[23] Despite the song's weak chart performance, however, the video reached number one on MuchMusic and number three on MusiquePlus,[23] and overall album sales of Jagged Little Pill were comparable to those in the United States even while the single's performance was faltering.[23] It was the only single from the album not to hit number one or two on the Canadian pop charts.

"You Oughta Know" received moderate to major success worldwide. In New Zealand the song peaked at number three and was certified gold by Recorded Music NZ (RMNZ), for shipments of 15,000 copies.[24] Most notably, the song was a top ten hit in three different genre charts in the United States, peaking at number three on the active rock charts, six on the contemporary hit radio charts and number one at modern rock. The song also held the record for longest run by a woman atop the Billboard Alternative Songs chart, which spent five weeks at number one, however this feat was surpassed by Lorde's "Royals" (2012).[25] In addition, the song was a top ten hit in Australia, and reached the top 40 in Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Sweden.

The song saw some success in the United Kingdom, debuting at number seventy six on the week ending of July 25, 199, over the course of the next few weeks "You Oughta Know" rose to fifty three, forty and finally peaked at twenty two. The song held its peak position for a second week before falling to number thirty, the song continued to drop on the charts and after eight weeks it fell off the charts completely.[26]


The music video was directed by Nick Egan. It features Morissette running or walking through a desert and, in some scenes, sitting on a chair outside. During each chorus, the video shows musicians performing along with Morrissette, who is singing with a microphone.[citation needed] The single was added in the set list for Morissette's concert tour, Jagged Little Pill World Tour (1995).[27] The song was added to the tour's video album Jagged Little Pill Live (1997).[27] Since then, the song has been included in her albums MTV Unplugged (1999),[28] Feast on Scraps (2002),[29] and The Collection,[30] as well as 1997 Grammys and the MTV Unplugged compilation albums.[31][32]

In 2015, Taylor Swift invited Morrisette on stage in Los Angeles to sing the song with her.[33] Many of Swift's fans at the concert, who had been born since the song's release, expressed bewilderment as to her identity. In Slate, Amanda Marcotte suggested it was better they didn't, criticizing the song in the process. "I am happy for these teenagers who don't know who Alanis Morissette is. I envy you, teens," she wrote. "[W]eirdly enough, 'You Oughta Know' was held up in 1995 as some kind of feminist anthem of empowerment, an angry yalp of rebellion from ladies who had enough," she recalled. While she found nothing wrong with that idea in principle, she compared Morrisette's perspective in the song to men who lash out at women who they believe have put them in the "friend zone." "It's still a song about refusing to take no for an answer. This is a 'yes means yes' world. There's no reason for the teens of this world to know anything about Alanis Morissette."[34]

Cover versions[edit]

"You Oughta Know" has been covered by several artists, such as Britney Spears (left) and Beyoncé Knowles (right).

Since the songs initial release, it has been covered by numerous artists. American singer-songwriter, musician, parodist, record producer, satirist, music video director, film producer, actor, and author "Weird Al" Yankovic utilized a portion of this song for The Alternative Polka, which appeared on his album Bad Hair Day, released the year after the song was released. Alternative-punk band Thousand Mona Lisas covered the song and included it as a hidden track on their 1995 album, New Disease. Also, Off the Beat released an a cappella cover in 1997. Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine covered the song in a comedic lounge music style on their 2005 album Aperitif for Destruction'.

Britney Spears performed the song during her 2009 The Circus Starring: Britney Spears tour.[35][36] Mike Bruno of Entertainment Weekly wrote, "[...] she rocked it. What better way to silence the critics than to step up to the mic, say to hell with it all, and spew some of that bile. Hot, confident Britney, live vocals, a dash of rebellion…".[36] After a number of Jonathan Coulton's fans compared Morissette's cover of "My Humps" to his cover of "Baby Got Back", he covered "You Oughta Know" himself.[37] The song was sampled by American R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles during her 2009 I Am... Tour,[38] as well as at the 2010 Grammys[39] and the Glastonbury Festival 2011.[40] In 2010, Corey TuT recorded a Trent Reznor-inspired version for Cover Me.[41] Georgia Murray and her band performed a cover of "You Oughta Know" on episode two of CBC's Cover Me Canada.[42]

Track listing[edit]

CD Single
  1. "You Oughta Know"
  2. "You Oughta Know" (The Jimmy the Saint Blend)
  3. "Perfect" (Acoustic)
  4. "Wake Up"


The following people contributed to You Oughta Know:[43]



Chart (1995–96) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[44] 4
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[45] 39
Canadian Alternative 30 (RPM)[22] 21
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[21] 20
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[46] 17
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[47] 3
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[48] 38
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[49] 22
US Billboard Hot 100[50] 6
US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 3
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 1
US Billboard Mainstream Top 40 7
Preceded by
"Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" by U2
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks number-one single
July 22, 1995 – August 19, 1995
Succeeded by
"J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva)" by Green Day


Provider Certification Sales/shipments
New Zealand (RAINZ) Gold[51] 15,000


  1. ^ "Search Certification Database". Canadian Recording Industry Association.
  2. ^ a b c d "Transcript: Profiles of Alanis Morissette, Margaret Cho". CNN People in the News. January 4, 2003.
  3. ^ Wild, David. "Adventures Of Miss Thing". Rolling Stone. November 2, 1995.
  4. ^ a b c d "Interview With Scott Welch". HitQuarters. August 6, 2002. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  5. ^ Navarro, Dave (April 26, 2010). "Sunday 10". 6767. Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Billboard Magazine - June 30, 2001". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  7. ^ Wild, David (November 2, 1995). "Alanis Morissette: The Adventures of Miss Thing". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Navarro, Dave (April 26, 2010). "Sunday 10". 6767. Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
  10. ^ McCormick, Eugene. "Coulier Comes Clean: He Admits to Being the Muse Behind Alanis Morissette’s 'You Ought to Know'". The Cleveland leader. Retrieved February 8, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d "You Oughta Know". Urban Legends Reference Pages. January 10, 2000. Retrieved December 16, 2006.
  12. ^ Webber, Stephanie (2014-01-31). "Dave Coulier, Full House Costars, Joke About Alanis Morissette Song". Retrieved 6 June 2014. I was at his house and he said, 'Alanis just hung up on me and said sorry for calling you during dinner,'" Saget recalled. "I was at his house when she said that to him. 
  13. ^ Fisher, Luchina (2014-06-06). "Dave Coulier Now Denies Alanis Morissette’s ‘You Oughta Know’ Is About Him". Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Saxberg, Lynn. "Alanis Morissette reveals secret self in songs". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  16. ^ Kawashima, Dale. "Great Publishing Story: John Alexander & Alanis Morissette". Songwriter Universe Magazine. Retrieved June 11, 2010. 
  17. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2011). "Jagged Little Pill - Alanis Morissette | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  18. ^ Browne, David (August 4, 1995). "Jagged Little Pill". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Top 100 Songs of the ’90s". VH1 Blog. Retrieved February 8, 2012. 
  20. ^ Lamb, Bill. "Top 10 Alanis Morissette Lyrics". Retrieved March 29, 2014. 
  21. ^ a b "Top Singles – Volume 62, No. 3, August 21, 1995". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. Retrieved 2011-06-14. 
  22. ^ a b "Rock/Alternative - Volume 61, No. 27, August 7, 1995". RPM. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  23. ^ a b c d "Alanis a hit everywhere except on hometown radio". Ottawa Citizen, August 19, 1995.
  24. ^
  25. ^ Trust, Gary (16 September 2013). "Lorde Links Longest Alternative Songs Reign By A Woman With 'Royals'". Billboard. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ a b Phares, Heather. "Jagged Little Pill Live". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 27, 2011. 
  28. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Alanis Unplugged". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 27, 2011. 
  29. ^ "Feast on Scraps [DVD]". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 27, 2011. 
  30. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Collection". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 27, 2011. 
  31. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "1997 Grammy Nominees". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 28, 2011. 
  32. ^ Rob, Theakston. "Very Best of MTV Unplugged". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  33. ^ Anderson, L.V. (August 25, 2015). "Watch Taylor Swift Rock Out to “You Oughta Know” on Stage With Alanis Morissette". Slate. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  34. ^ Marcotte, Amanda (August 26, 2015). "Teens Don’t Oughta Know". Slate. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  35. ^ Montgomery, James (February 1, 2010). "'You Oughta Know': The Story Behind Beyonce's Grammy Cover". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  36. ^ a b "Britney Spears covers Alanis Morissette: 'You Oughta Know,' it ain't half bad". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. September 6, 2009. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  37. ^ Coulton, Jonathan. "You Oughta Know". Retrieved February 8, 2012. 
  38. ^ Ganz, Caryn (June 22, 2009). "Beyonce Brings Hits, Jay-Z to "I Am..." Tour opener in New York". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  39. ^ Rodriguez, Jayson (January 31, 2010). "Beyonce Covers Alanis Morissette At Grammys". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  40. ^ "Beyonce covers Kings Of Leon and Prince at Glastonbury". NME (IPC Media (Time Warner)). June 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-05. 
  41. ^ Padgett, Ray. "Corey TuT Brings a Little Trent Reznor to Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know"". Cover Commissions. Cover Me. Retrieved February 8, 2012. 
  42. ^ "Watch Episode Two Performances Now!". Cover Me Canada. Retrieved February 8, 2012. 
  43. ^ "Jagged Little Pill Articles and Information". 1995-06-13. Retrieved 2011-09-19. 
  44. ^ " – Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  45. ^ " – Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  46. ^ " – Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  47. ^ " – Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know". Top 40 Singles.
  48. ^ " – Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know". Singles Top 60.
  49. ^ "5, 1995/ Archive Chart: August 5, 1995" UK Singles Chart.
  50. ^ "Alanis Morissette – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Alanis Morissette.
  51. ^ "Top 50 Singles Chart, 2 June 1996". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Could I Be Your Girl" by Jann Arden
Juno Award for Single of the Year
Succeeded by
"Ironic" by Alanis Morissette