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Dusting ‘Em Off: Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill

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    It’s been almost 15 years since Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, now ridden with 90’s nostalgia, caught our attention and made us ogle at its clever use of witticism alongside aggression. While this album greatly affected the masses, its influence over the Generation Y babies was overwhelming; at the time, most were experiencing their destructive post-adolescent stage of rebellion. And for those of us that now share this in common, we will most likely never relinquish this album from our collections because of its ultimate significance in shaping each and every one of our lives.

    Recently re-found in the darkest regions of my dusty CD collection, Jagged Little Pill has since filled me with a childish innocence, reminiscent of some earlier years I never thought I could cherish again. From start to finish, Morissette boldly runs us through a series of angst-filled alternative rock ballads, tackling failed romances, life lessons, missed opportunities, and unforgettable regrets. With sincerity and openness, Morissette fully reveals herself on this record, documenting even her darkest of emotions inside each track. Written while Morissette was struggling with daily panic attacks, which she was later hospitalized for, it’s no wonder why Jagged Little Pill is as harsh and critical towards life and human existence as it is.

    Jagged Little Pill marked a dramatic shift in style for Morissette from her previous dance/pop sound to a more grungy/alternative one, which based on its world-wide success proved a successful leap for her. However, her departure from her original sound proved a hindrance for her respectability, particularly in her native country, Canada. Morissette was also repeatedly harassed for collaborating with produced Glen Ballard on the record, who was automatically pinned as the main culprit in aiding the altercation of her sound.

    The album’s debut single was none other than the critical and dehumanizing “You Outta Know”, which has been rumored to be directed at her ex-lover Dave Coulier from Full House. As far as break-up songs go, “You Outta Know” exceeds expectations, attacking the audience like a viper aiming only for the jugular and broadcasting a giant “Fuck You” — disguised by not-so-subtle insults and harsh accusations — to the entire planet. Morissette’s next big hit was “Hand in My Pocket”, which featured the uncommon literary device “rhyme juxtaposition,” while running through a strange list of emotionally contradictive statements. “Hand in My Pocket” portrayed a drastic lyrical shift from her previous single and even took an optimistic viewpoint towards life, as she duly reminds us “no one’s really got it figured out just yet.” However, it wasn’t until Morissette’s most sought after single “Ironic” came out, that she really dominated the charts. One thing that aided in the exceedingly overwhelming popularity of “Ironic” was how playfully it touched upon both casual and dramatic everyday occurrences; sympathizing with its listeners, while ultimately leaving them saddened and remorseful. Amidst its wave of popularity, however, “Ironic” was also harshly criticized since some came to later believe the song applied the term improperly.

    “You Learn” aired next, the title of which was intended as a metaphor for the many lessons of life that we often still find hard to accept. With her previous singles still storming the charts, Morissette released two more singles, including the charmingly romantic “Head Over Feet”, which finally revealed her softer side to the public. Up until this point, Morissette had only been revered as a strange, dark and moody individual, but “Head Over Feet” allowed her to be viewed in a completely different light, with her honest admission of uncontrollably falling for someone. While that didn’t ultimately alter her public image on a large scale, it certainly helped draw attention away from her personal life and her attendance of psychotherapy sessions. The album’s final single, released a year later, was the venomous “All I Really Want” which once again brought forward her vengeful lyricism and utter disgust for herself and others.

    Looking back, it’s no wonder Jagged Little Pill is considered to be one of the most successful albums of all time, receiving five of the six Grammy Awards it was nominated for in 1996. What’s reassuring though is that Jagged Little Pill actually has several pieces of evidence to prove its worth, both musically and lyrically. What Morissette created with Jagged Little Pill has proved a timeless piece of work that’s become appropriate for any situation and the perfect musical cure for any mood.

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