Alanis is the debut studio album by Alanis Morissette, exclusively released in Canada on April 6, 1991 by MCA Records Canada. The album was recorded with producer Leslie Howe, who would go on to record her follow-up, Now is the Time.
Four singles were released from the album – Too Hot in May 1991; Walk Away in June 1991; Feel Your Love in September 1991; and Plastic in early 1992. Music videos were made for the first three songs. The album was a success for both Alanis Morissette and the label; it was certified gold in July or August of 1991, was certified platinum in January 1992, and sold over 200,000 copies.
Released date: April 6, 1991 (Canada)
Recorded: September–December 1990, at Distortion Studios in Ottawa, Ontario
Genre: Teen pop, dance, pop freestyle, new jack swing
Length: 40:44 / 41:14
Label: MCA Records Canada, Hot Mustard Records
Producer: Leslie Howe
01. Feel Your Love – 3:40 / 4:15
02. Too Hot – 4:00
03. Plastic – 3:45
04. Walk Away – 4:50
05. On My Own – 4:08
06. Superman – 4:32
07. Jealous – 3:55
08. Human Touch – 3:23
09. Oh Yeah! – 3:58
10. Party Boy – 4:20
Development & Production
John Alexander, head of A&R for MCA Records Canada, first heard a demo tape from Alanis in 1983, when she was nine years old. He called it very promising, but decided not to sign her to a record deal owing to her age. In 1987, Alanis met entertainment manager Stephan Klovan. At the 1988 World Figure Skating Championships, she recorded a well-received version of “O Canada” with two musicians, one of whom was Leslie Howe of the duo One to One. Klovan intended for Howe to work with Alanis so that she could audition on the television show Star Search, but eventually both of them decided to try to secure a record contract for her instead. After auditioning more than once, she did eventually appear on Star Search in 1990.
One of the demo recordings Howe and Alanis created with keyboardist Serge Côté in the studio was Walk Away. Howe and Klovan funded what was ultimately an expensive promotional video for the single that was filmed in Paris, France. In 1988, Howe sent the video to Alexander, who later arranged a dinner meeting with Morissette. The next day, he met Alanis and her parents, and told them he wanted to sign her, but MCA Records did not endorse this decision. Leeds Levy, president of MCA Publishing in North America, thought that Alanis had the talent to succeed and agreed to sign her to a publishing deal, as well as help fund a record deal for her. MCA Publishing ultimately financed the album through Hot Mustard Records, its new independent label for the development of new artists, with distribution being handled by MCA Records. The album was recorded at Distortion Studios in Ottawa, Ontario between September and December 1990.
According to Alanis, people from MCA placed pressure on her to lose weight in time for the album’s release, leading her to develop anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Though she ultimately began therapy, she’s talked about the toll the eating disorders placed on her mentally.
Release & Reception
The album was released in April 1991 to mixed reviews, and the media drew comparisons between Alanis and other teen pop singers at the time such as Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. Too Hot reached number 14 on the Canadian singles chart and, in July, peaked within the top ten on contemporary hit radio. Feel Your Love was released as a single during this period, and the CRIA certified the album gold. After Alanis reached number 25 on the Canadian album chart, two other singles were released: Walk Away and Plastic.
At the 1992 Juno Awards, Too Hot received nominations for Single of the Year and, with its Hott Shott remix, Best Dance Recording; Alanis won the award for Most Promising Female Vocalist. The album went on to sell over 200,000 copies, though her popularity experienced a backlash at her high school, accelerated by version of “O Canada” being played over the PA system every morning.
In 1995, Alanis released her international debut album Jagged Little Pill through her new label Maverick Records. Executives at Maverick persuaded MCA Records to withdraw all copies of Alanis and Now is the Time from circulation, and they did not mention either album in the promotional material for Jagged Little Pill.
Both Alanis and Now is the Time are officially out of print, but the material is easily accessible on pirate sites.
Canada – Platinum (100,000)
Music videos were released for the first three singles from the album. Plastic did not receive a music video, and the video for Too Hot featured a pre-Friends Matt LeBlanc.