You Oughta Know

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"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"
Audio sample
file info · help

"You Oughta Know" is a song originally performed by Canadian American recording artist and songwriter Alanis Morissette, for her third studio album, Jagged Little Pill. The song was written by Morissette along with Glen Ballard, who also produced it. The song was chosen to be released as the lead single from the album by Maverick Records on July 7, 1995. It was her first song in her change from bubblegum pop to the alternative rock sound she was later known for.

"You Oughta Know" was highlighted as an album track, and it received generally positive reviews from critics. It reached the top 10 in Australia and the United States, where it was a multiformat hit in several different genre charts, and made the top 20 in Canada and the top 40 in Sweden, New Zealand, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

The song subsequently won two Grammy Awards: Best Rock Song and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. It was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

Flea and Dave Navarro of the Red Hot Chili Peppers played bass and guitar on the track, respectively.


"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".[1]

In an August 2008 interview with the Calgary Sun, actor-comedian Dave Coulier admitted to being the ex-boyfriend portrayed in the song.[2] 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.'"[3] 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.[4] Later in 2014, Coulier denied being the subject of the song.[5] In an appearance in Oprah, however, he admitted it had been about him. [1]

However, in October 2008, Morissette reiterated her refusal to identify the subject, commenting to a CanWest News Service journalist,

"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."[6]

Other celebrities have been rumored to be the lover in the song, including: Mike Peluso, hockey player for the New Jersey Devils;[3] Matt LeBlanc, the actor who appeared in the video for Morissette's single "Walk Away" in 1991;[3] and Leslie Howe, a musician and the producer of Morissette's first two albums in the early 1990s.[3]

Chart performance[edit]

"You Oughta Know" received moderate to major success worldwide. Most notably, the song was a Top 10 hit in three different genre charts in the United States, peaking at #3 in the active rock charts, #6 in the contemporary hit radio charts and #1 at modern rock.

Unusually, however, the song was only a modest hit in Morissette's native Canada, peaking only at #20 pop[7] and #21 rock[8] in RPM. Music journalists have attributed the song's weak chart performance to resistance from Canadian radio programmers,[9] because the aggressive, hard rock nature of the song marked a dramatic shift from Morissette's established image as a teen dance-pop star.[9] Despite the song's weak chart performance, however, the video reached #1 on MuchMusic and #3 on MusiquePlus,[9] and overall album sales of Jagged Little Pill were comparable to those in the United States even while the single's performance was faltering.[9] It was the only single from the album not to hit #1 or #2 on the Canadian pop charts.

In addition, the song was a top ten hit in Australia, and reached the top 40 in Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Music video[edit]

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]

Cover versions and samples[edit]

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

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.[10][11] 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…".[11] 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.[12]

The song was sampled by American R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles during her 2009 I Am... Tour,[13] as well as at the 2010 Grammys[14] and the Glastonbury Festival 2011.[15]

In 2010, Corey TuT recorded a Trent Reznor-inspired version for Cover Me.[16]

Georgia Murray and her band performed a cover of "You Oughta Know" on episode two of CBC's Cover Me Canada.[17]


"You Oughta Know" was ranked at number twelve on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90's in December 2007.[18] Allmusic noted the track as a highlight of the album.

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]

The song is also a playable track in the music video game Rock Band 2 and on an episode of Hindsight.

"You Oughta Know", was also featured in the Season 3 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm , "The Terrorist Attack", where she guest stars as herself. Alanis never sharing who her songs are about is parodied as Larry David openly asks Alanis who the subject is and assures her that it will stay between them.

In 2015, Taylor Swift invited Morrisette on stage in Los Angeles to sing the song with her.[19] 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."[20]

Track listing[edit]

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


Chart (1995–96) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[21] 4
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[22] 39
Canadian Alternative 30 (RPM)[8] 21
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[7] 20
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[23] 17
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[24] 25
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[25] 38
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[26] 22
US Billboard Hot 100[27] 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


  1. ^ Navarro, Dave (April 26, 2010). "Sunday 10". 6767. Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ a b c d "You Oughta Know". Urban Legends Reference Pages. January 10, 2000. Retrieved December 16, 2006.
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Fisher, Luchina (2014-06-06). "Dave Coulier Now Denies Alanis Morissette’s ‘You Oughta Know’ Is About Him". Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  6. ^ Saxberg, Lynn. "Alanis Morissette reveals secret self in songs". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "Top Singles – Volume 62, No. 3, August 21, 1995". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. Retrieved 2011-06-14. 
  8. ^ a b "Rock/Alternative - Volume 61, No. 27, August 7, 1995". RPM. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Alanis a hit everywhere except on hometown radio". Ottawa Citizen, August 19, 1995.
  10. ^ Montgomery, James (February 1, 2010). "'You Oughta Know': The Story Behind Beyonce's Grammy Cover". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ Coulton, Jonathan. "You Oughta Know". Retrieved February 8, 2012. 
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ Rodriguez, Jayson (January 31, 2010). "Beyonce Covers Alanis Morissette At Grammys". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  15. ^ "Beyonce covers Kings Of Leon and Prince at Glastonbury". NME (IPC Media (Time Warner)). June 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-05. 
  16. ^ Padgett, Ray. "Corey TuT Brings a Little Trent Reznor to Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know"". Cover Commissions. Cover Me. Retrieved February 8, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Watch Episode Two Performances Now!". Cover Me Canada. Retrieved February 8, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Top 100 Songs of the ’90s". VH1 Blog. Retrieved February 8, 2012. 
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ Marcotte, Amanda (August 26, 2015). "Teens Don’t Oughta Know". Slate. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  21. ^ " – Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  22. ^ " – Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  23. ^ " – Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  24. ^ " – Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know". Top 40 Singles.
  25. ^ " – Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know". Singles Top 60.
  26. ^ "5, 1995/ Archive Chart: August 5, 1995" UK Singles Chart.
  27. ^ "Alanis Morissette – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Alanis Morissette.

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