How 'Jagged Little Pill' Changed Everything & What Alanis Morissette Thinks About It Now
By Shana Naomi Krochmal
This video is unavailable because we were unable to load a message from our sponsors.
If you are using ad-blocking software, please disable it and reload the page.
Alanis Morissette Remembers 'Jagged Little Pill' 20 Years Later
Malin Akerman Reflects on ‘Heartbreak Kid’ 15 Years Later (Exclu…
'90 Day Fiancé': Ceasar Says He's 'Friends’ With Drake (Exclusiv…
'90 Day Fiancé': Sumit Explains How the Tragic Death of His Sist…
Ellen Pompeo Recalls Screaming Match With Denzel Washington on '…
Katie Couric’s Upcoming Memoir Includes Surprising Confessions
Behind the Scenes of Trace Adkins and Luke Bryan’s ‘Where the Co…
Natasha Bure and Heather Locklear Deal With Grief in ‘Don’t Swea…
‘Never Have I Ever’: Lee Rodriguez Shares Her Hopes For Season 3…
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures: H.E.R. & Robert Pattinson Tal…
Michael Michele Talks Reimagining ‘Dynasty’s Dominique Deveraux …
Britney Spears Has ‘a Lot of Healing to Do’ After Dad’s Suspensi…
Watch the ‘90 Day: The Single Life’ Season 2 Explosive Trailer
Mark ‘The Undertaker’ Calaway on Retirement and If His Daughter …
Jamie Lee Curtis and Kyle Richards on Reuniting in ‘Halloween Ki…
'The Neighborhood' Sneak Peek: Dave Is Worried About Gemma After…
Adele Speaks Out on Her Divorce and Confirms Relationship With R…
Emma Thompson Fondly Remembers Alan Rickman During 'Sense & Sens…
‘90 Day Fiancé’: Biniyam Breaks Down In Tears as Ariela Leaves E…
You first see her adorably goofing around on an awkward
children’s TV show, harmless and saccharine. Her albums are stuffed full of
candy cotton, melt-in-your-mouth fluff, pop confection expertly crafted by the
genre’s ageless machine of writers, producers and managers.
She is dying to escape, fighting to stay alive, drowning
because no one wants to see anything but the kid she outgrew long before anyone
thought her audience could handle it.
Lather, rinse, repeat: from Britney to Miley, this is the
modern fable of a pop princess.
And then it explodes, sometimes brutally (Britney barefoot
at the gas station), sometimes beautifully (Demi rising out of rehab like a
skyscraper) -- but more often than not some messy combination of the two.
There were few role models for a successful “not a girl, not
yet a woman” transition during the late-‘80s and early-‘90s, and only one clear
superstar: Janet Jackson broke free of her infamous family, first as a teenager
with the “if you’re nasty,” defiant Control and then a softer, sultry
Herb Ritts-ified makeover with janet.
Then Alanis Morissette -- a polite young Canadian best known
for cutesy skits on You Can’t Do That on Television and a couple of bubblegum
records -- decided she had had just about enough of what everyone expected her
She was sick of guys in the industry who were too busy
looking at her body to listen to her ideas. She was totally over cheating
ex-boyfriends who had found bland replacements. She wished nothing but the best
for them both.
There was just one very important question to ask as she
ditched her old image: “Is she perverted like me?” (Also a couple follow-ups:
“Would she go down on you in a theater?” and “Are you thinking of me when you
Jagged Little Pill, the album that changed everything for me and almost every other thirtysomething woman I know, came out 20 years ago -- the same week I graduated from high school, suddenly armed with a soundtrack-slash-survival guide to being a girl in the world.
“You Oughta Know,” Jagged’s first official, most shocking single, had been getting early radio play even in my hometown of Reno, Nev., a mid-sized market of missing-to-mediocre cultural taste.
“I just remember not wanting to stop until I wrote a record that really represented where I was at and all my humanity,”Morissette told ETonline. “I really did think I was the only human being on the planet going through whatever it was that I was going through at the time. So when people connected with it in the way they did, I felt less alone.”
I definitely felt less alone, driving down the street in my beat-up 1981 Toyota Celica, smoking clove cigarettes and screaming along. I hadn’t known before Alanis that women on the radio could be so angry. I didn’t realize that women on the radio could even get bleeped.
Admittedly, I wasn’t particularly cool: I listened to what MTV and the radio played me, which at that time was a lot of white boy grunge. Surly Seattle bands got close to what I was looking for, as a misfit adolescent -- but they were neverquite the right fit. I wouldn’t discover riot grrrl records until I went away to college, and I had no idea that beneath Reno’s seedy casino fronts was a genuine punk scene until I told someone where I grew up and they freaked out about the band 7 Seconds. That was all great news, eventually. But it didn’t help me at 13, or 15, or 18.
“There was a time during Jagged Little Pill's pre-release when radio stations would say, ‘We’re already playing a female,’” Morissette said. That’s despite the fact she was on Madonna’s label -- which for all Madonna obviously knew about making hits, few took seriously, either, at least until Jagged sold almost 19 million albums in a year. There were 15 weeks during which it moved at least 500,000 units. (Last year, only four albums cracked a million in total sales.) It was the number one album, numbers-wise, of the entire 1990s.
“It was a wave,” Morissette said modestly, “and I was on the crest.”
I love Alanis for making that album -- but she’s dead wrong about that part. She was the sound of the dam breaking.