I grew up on Alanis Morisette. I’d drive home from school, and we’d listen to Jagged Little Pill
. To this day, I can sing every single song off this album, and I can also recollect many of the basslines and guitar parts. To put it plainly, I was scarred by Alanis. I hated her from middle school till just over a month ago. Then, I decided “What the hell, I’ll give Jagged Little Pill
another shot.” How I appreciate my brilliant suggestions I make to myself.
To put it plainly, Jagged Little Pill
certainly deserves its reputation. It’s incredibly emotional, sharply written, jaded almost to the point of hilarity, and it kicked off a stupendous amount of cliché’s. Looking back, the album is just over the top with its presentation, with Alanis singing wildly and without much restraint or organization. That’s much to do with the charm of the album, however; it was Alanis before she got incredibly famous, when she was only expected to push around 100,000 copies.
The most surprising part of the recording is how original the music is. The guitar’s are effects laden, and often playing, for the time period, rather technically, and often make the dark and depressing atmospheres of the best Alanis songs (in particular, Wake Up
is heavily dependent on it’s musical backdrop). However, the bass playing on the album is in particularly quite good, if not spectacular. Done mostly by the legendary Flea, the basslines are often furiously played and are in addition some of the best of his career. You Oughta Know
, arguably the most parodied song on the album, features one of the best basslines of the 90’s, period, and many other songs come close to matching that.
What really makes or breaks the album, however, is how you cope with Alanis’s voice and singing style. Her voice is very high pitched, caustic, and well, unique. She goes through a large range here, from the quiet crooning seen on Perfect
to the wailing on You Outha Know
, to the womanly screaming on Ironic
. She also regularly goes in and out of pitches and singing styles in the span of a secod, such as on All I Really Want
, where the changes are so frequent she sometimes sounds like the female version of James Maynard Keenan. In fact, she might just be the female version of James Maynard Keenan. Just kidding.
But seriously, this chick can sing. If you can accept her voice. It’s entirely too abrasive, and those who are used to more traditional female vocalists will likely be turned off. However, it’s also not that inaccessible; she’s so convicted, it’s easy to just relate to her. She can also sound quite sweet, as on Head Over Feet
, where she goes on about a friend who becomes her lover.
On that topic, the obvious attraction many people find to Alanis is her lyrical work. It’s not so much that’s eloquent, but moreso that it’s brutally honest most of the time, something that female songwriters couldn’t do in ‘95 if they wanted any sort of popularity. She tells what she feels, how she feels, and if there’s any reason for her to feel that way in every one of these songs, and it’s still refreshing to hear against some of the more generic female writers of our day, even if they have a more traditionally better voice. Oh, and for the record, I think she pulled a big one-up on everyone and made the song Ironic
ironic so that it would be the ultimate irony song for getting irony wrong. Just for the record.
It’s difficult to express why this had such a huge impact on the world upon its release. It’s got a take no prisoners attitude, a strong musical basis, an eclectic singer in Alanis, and lyrics that anyone (no, it’s not some man-hating or man-excluding album as its so touted to be) can relate to, and a sense of carelessness that you can get lost in. It’s one of the most varied pop/rock albums I own, and its also one of the most emotionally powerful to boot. Just, if you do end up liking it, don’t start including Head Over Feet
on party mixes. People don’t like it very much if you do…