It’s been 26 years since Alanis Morissette released her breakout third album, Jagged Little Pill. The sprawling record sold 30 million copies worldwide, and remains a definitive moment in the history of modern popular music. It spawned six singles that made their way to the top of the charts in Canada and America. On top of that, Alanis Morissette led a fruitful career with dozens of songs that stand alone in terms of composition and critical acclaim. In this article we’ll be going in depth on the best 10 Alanis Morissette songs of all time.
10. You Learn
You Learn was the fourth and final single from Jagged Little Pill. It’s most famous for it’s insanely catchy pre-chorus, that features a Morissette-classic build up. It refers to some trauma that Alanis had experienced prior to the making of the album, when she was robbed at gunpoint shortly after moving to Los Angeles, and the panic attacks that followed. It’s really a great lens to see her more vulnerable side.
9. Hand’s Clean
Hand’s Clean is a deep cut off Under Rug Swept that ended up surging with popularity after the album was fully released. The song’s subject material covers a past relationship with an older man, hinting that there may have been some potential wrongdoing by a member of the music industry. It’s still unknown whether the song should be taken literal or not, as Morissette’s lyrical work is distinctively vague for her own advantage. Nevertheless, the song is an iconic blend of instrumentals and melody.
Uninvited comes from the City Of Angels soundtrack, and was immediately following Jagged Little Pill. Instead of a catchy radio anthem that everyone was expecting, it ended up being more of a slow ballad with symphonic rock elements. It still topped the charts as both the song and the movie were incredibly popular.
7. No Pressure Over Cappuccino
No Pressure Over Cappuccino, released in 1999, was one of the first tracks that Alanis Morissette released following the Jagged Little Pill live sessions. It was performed regularly as one of her focus tracks of that year, and it eventually went on to be featured as a single on her MTV Unplugged live album. At its core, the song is a ballad, but her vocal performance is really what distinguishes it as a breakout track. Her unique voice is given a great opportunity to shine on this track, with an intense melody.
Guardian is the lead single from Alanis Morissette’s comeback album Havoc and Bright Lights, which came out in 2012. At its core, Guardian is a quintessential alternative radio rock song, featuring intense and enjoyable guitar riffs with a powerful drum beat. While this song is definitely a worthy hit of 2012 alternative rock, it still can’t help but bring with it a wave of 90’s nostalgia, enigmatic of everything Morissette’s done in her previous works. This is also the first Alanis Morrissette record since she took a brief hiatus to focus on motherhood, and it shows in the lyrical content. The song might not be the angsty teen and early 20s Morissette that the world grew to love, but it’s mature and still infectiously catchy.
The title of this song couldn’t be more fitting. Released in 2002, this song is actually a cover of Seal’s famous song “Crazy”. It also was originally recorded for a GAP commercial, but it ended up becoming so popular that it was later re-released as a lead single for Alanis Morissette’s greatest hits album The Collection, later released in 2005. This song is incredibly unique within her discography, as it is definitely showing a lot of electronic and dance elements. This might have been a way for her to distinguish that it was a cover song and not her own, but regardless, it’s a fresh of breath air, and as the record sales will support, it is well deserving of the number 5 spot on this list.
4. Precious Illusions
Precious Illusions was the second single that was released from Alanis Morissette’s fifth album, Under Rug Swept, released in 2002. The song is one of the most raw pieces that she’s ever released, with a unique crisp vocal melody, and a nice tempo boost as the song progresses. The lyrics are fanciful and imaginative, and it’s overall a great coming of age story told by the narrator. This is one of those iconic tracks that is paired best with its accompanying music video, which really enhances the story.
Ironic cements Jagged Little Pill as a breakthrough record as an incredibly powerful third single. This song is about love and friendship, with a slightly twisted twist of humor, as the artist bemoans the fact that everything she touches becomes ironic and unfulfilling. Another great thing about this song is the buildup. It starts as a low tempo acoustic song and builds up into an absolute singalong bop. The lyrics are actually pretty deep too once you dive into them. They have created a bit of debate in the 90s rock community, but whether you like the premise or don’t, the song is undeniable earcandy.
2. Hand In My Pocket
This song was released in 1995 as the second single on Jagged Little Pill. Hand In My Pocket is a culmination of Alanis Morissette’s greatest strengths as a songwriter and performer. The song tells a raw and touching story of wanting to be ordinary, and wanting the power to live without fear. The song is complex in its lyrical content and composition, making it a standout track on the lauded Jagged Little Pill album. In addition, the tempo changes are exceptional in Hand In My Pocket, making it feel like an epic journey. The song also features some of Alanis Morissette’s best vocal work and showcases her wide range with beautiful falsetto notes and powerful belting.
1. You Oughta Know
This song was released in 1995 and was one of the songs that helped kick-start Alanis Morissette’s career with the vast success of Jagged Little Pill. At the time, the album was her third studio album. You Oughta Know had a lot of success at the time due to it’s catchy hooks and quotable lyrics that made a lasting impression on many people. The song’s chorus is incredibly infectious, making its way to radio play across the world. It includes some incredible guitar work too, as well as nice thick bass lines contributed to by Dave Navarro and Flea. The song is about a bitter break up, with the artist finally letting out her true feelings, tinged with a resentful tone letting the listener know that the relationship sucked, but Alanis is better now.