Jagged Little Pill is Alanis Morissette’s third studio album. Released on June 13, 1995 through Maverick Records, it was her first album to be released worldwide. The album was a stylistic departure from her first two albums, becoming an alternative rock album that takes influence from post-grunge and pop rock of the mid 1990s.
Jagged Little Pill topped the charts in thirteen countries; with sales of over 33 million copies worldwide, it is one of the best-selling albums of all time and made Morissette the first Canadian to achieve double diamond sales. Jagged Little Pill was nominated for nine Grammy Awards, winning five. Six singles were released from the album – You Oughta Know was released on July 6, 1995; Hand in My Pocket on October 31, 1995; Ironic on February 27, 1996; You Learn on July 9, 1996; Head Over Feet on September 16, 1996; and All I Really Want on December 1, 1996.
The success and legacy of Jagged Little Pill has inspired Alanis to rerecord the album with an acoustic rendition in 2005’s Jagged Little Pill Acoustic that celebrated the tenth anniversary. To celebrate the 20th anniversary in 2015, the album was completely remastered and included on the 4-disc Jagged Little Pill, Collector’s Edition. In 2020, a digital rerelease for the 25th anniversary featured the entire concert at London’s 02 Shepherd’s Bush.
Release date: June 13, 1995; October 30, 2015 (Remastered Edition)
Recorded: March 8, 1994 – April 1995 at Westlake Recording Studios and Signet Sound in Hollywood, California
Genre: Alternative rock, pop rock, post-grunge
Label: Maverick, Reprise
Producer: Glen Ballard
All lyrics written by Alanis Morissette; all music written by Alanis Morissette & Glen Ballard.
01. All I Really Want – 4:45
02. You Oughta Know – 4:09
03. Perfect – 3:08
04. Hand in My Pocket – 3:42
05. Right Through You – 2:56
06. Forgiven – 5:00
07. You Learn – 4:00
08. Head over Feet – 4:27
09. Mary Jane – 4:41
10. Ironic – 3:50
11. Not the Doctor – 3:48
12. Wake Up – 4:54
13. You Oughta Know (Jimmy the Saint Blend) & Your House (Hidden Track) – 8:13
12. Wake Up / Your House (Hidden Track) – 8:56
13. Perfect (Acoustic Version) – 3:06
25th Anniversary Edition:
The bonus tracks are live recordings conducted on March 4, 2020 at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
14. Your House – 4:34
15. Right Through You – 3:30
16. You Learn – 4:40
17. All I Really Want – 5:57
18. Hands Clean – 5:03
19. Not the Doctor – 4:13
20. Mary Jane – 5:40
21. Forgiven – 4:59
22. Perfect – 3:56
23. Head Over Feet – 4:42
24. Hand in My Pocket – 5:17
25. Ironic – 4:14
26. You Oughta Know – 5:27
27. Wake Up – 5:29
28. Uninvited – 4:03
29. Thank U – 5:16
For the tracks that were contained on the 2015 remaster & rerelease, please visit the page for the collector’s edition here.
Development & Production
With her two-album deal complete at MCA Records Canada complete following the release of Now is the Time, Alanis was left without a recording contract. In 1993, her publisher Leeds Levy at MCA Music Publishing introduced her to manager Scott Welch. Welch was impressed by her voice, her character and her lyrics. At the time, she was still living with her parents in Ottawa; together they decided it would be best for her career to move to Toronto and start writing with other people.
After graduating from high school, Alanis made the move with her publisher funding part of her development. Alanis Morissette then met producer Glen Ballard in early 1994 after their publishing companies matched them up. Their connection was instant and within 30 minutes of meeting each other they had begun experimenting with different sounds in Ballard’s home studio in San Fernando Valley, California. The first track the pair wrote was The Bottom Line, which was written in one hour on the day they met.
Their demo recording sessions started in 1994 at Ballard’s home studio and included only Alanis and the producer, who recorded the songs as they were being written. Ballard provided the rough tracks, playing the guitars, keyboards, and programming drum machines, and Morissette played harmonica on top of singing vocals. The duo sought to write and record one song a day, in 12 or 16 hour shifts, with minimal overdubbing later. All of Morissette’s singing on the final album respects that rule, with each recorded in only one or two takes.
The first song to be shown to A&R and record company people was Perfect, with a simple arrangement containing only Morissette’s vocals and Ballard’s acoustic guitar. After being rejected by every label they met with, Maverick eventually signed Alanis Morissette to their label in the spring of 1995. The duo then took their demos to a studio and began working on full band arrangements for some tracks, but the original vocal recordings from the demos remained. You Oughta Knowfeatures Dave Navarro on guitar and Flea (of Red Hot Chili Peppers) on bass. Originally written with the different instrumentation, the pair were asked to re-write the music to form something more solid.
Release & Reception
Though Jagged Little Pill was expected only to sell enough to make a follow-up, the situation changed quickly when KROQ-FM, an influential Los Angeles modern rock radio station, began playing You Oughta Know. The song instantly garnered attention for its scathing, explicit lyrics, and a subsequent music video went into heavy rotation on MTV (in the United States) and on MuchMusic (in Canada). After the success of You Oughta Know, the album’s other hit singles helped send Jagged Little Pill to the top of the charts. All I Really Want and Hand in My Pocket followed, but it was Ironic that would ultimately become Morissette’s biggest hit. The subsequent releases of You Learn and Head Over Feet would keep the album in the top twenty on the Billboard 200 for more than a year.
Jagged Little Pill received generally positive reviews from music critics. Los Angeles Times writer Steve Hochman said that few artists explored extreme emotional games as strikingly as Alanis (whom he viewed as a fresh talent somewhere between Sinéad O’Connor and Liz Phair) did, with the album’s material determined to let her feelings out. Anne Ayers of USA Todaysaid that Alanis compels with mature, assured songcraft and pointed writing, while Philadelphia Inquirer critic Tom Moondescribed her as wise beyond her years and determined to expose the hypocrisy she encounters at every turn. In a retrospective review, Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic highlighted the intensely personal nature of the album’s lyrics and found it remarkable that the album struck a sympathetic chord with millions of listeners, adding that Alanis unflinchingly explores emotions so common that most people would be ashamed to articulate them.
Jagged Little Pill is one of the most successful albums of the 1990s. In the United States, the album debuted at No. 117 on the Billboard 200 before peaking at No. 1 in October 1995 and making Alanis Morissette the first Canadian to top the list. It was the first album to reach both 12 million (in February 1997) and 13 million (in August 1998) in sales in the US since Nielsen SoundScan started tracking music sales in 1991. It was eventually certified 16× Platinum for shipments of 16 million copies, giving her the record of the youngest artist to be certified diamond in the US before being bested by Britney Spears’ debut album …Baby One More Time. On the week ending June 21, 2015, the album sold 5,000 copies, bringing the sales to just over 15 million. This made the album one of only three albums to have sold at least 15 million copies in the United States since Nielson SoundScan’s tracking started in 1991, with at least a further 350,000 units through BMG Music Club.
Jagged Little Pill was very successful worldwide. In Canada, the album also peaked at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart and sold over 2,000,000 copies to become 2× Diamond in the country. In Oceania, the album debuted at number 46 in Australia, and rose to peak at number one, staying there for 10 consecutive weeks. It was certified 14× Platinum, having sold over 980,000 copies. The album debuted at number 46 in New Zealand, then rose to number one, staying there for 11 non-consecutive weeks. There, the album has been certified 14× Platinum, selling over 200,000 copies.
In Europe, the album peaked at number six on the French Albums Chart, staying in the charts for 37 weeks. It was certified Platinum in that country. In Italy, Jagged Little Pill has shipped half a million copies. In the United Kingdom, the album debuted at number 76 and later reached number one, staying in the charts for a total of 221 weeks. Additionally, it was certified 10× Platinum, shipping over 3 million copies.
Overall, the album has sold 33 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the most successful albums in music history. Just in its sixth months of availability in 1996, it was the best selling album worldwide – seeing 18.7 million copies sold with 500,000 or more copies sold during more than 15 non-consecutive weeks.
Both immediately after its release and in the 24 years since its release, Jagged Little Pill has received numerous awards and accolades. Slant Magazine ranked it 9th on their Best 10 Albums of 1995 list, while Rolling Stone ranked it 43rd on their Best Albums of the 1990s list.
Alanis and the album won six Juno Awards in 1996 for Album of the Year, Single of the Year (for You Oughta Know), Female Vocalist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Best Rock Album. At the 1996 Grammy Awards, she won Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song for You Oughta Know, as well as Best Rock Album and Album of the Year for the album. Additionally, her performance that evening of You Oughta Know has frequently been cited as one of the best in Grammys history.
Ironic was nominated for two 1997 Grammy Awards – Record of the Year and Best Music Video, Short Form – and also won Single of the Year at the 1997 Juno Awards, where Morissette also won Songwriter of the Year and the International Achievement Award. The video album Jagged Little Pill, Live, which was co-directed by Alanis Morissette and chronicled the bulk of her tour, won a 1998 Grammy Award for Best Music Video, Long Form.
In 2000, it was voted number 51 in Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums. In October 2002, Rolling Stone ranked it number 31 on its Women In Rock – The 50 Essential Albums list, and in 2003, the magazine ranked it number 327 on its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. The album also appears on the National Association of Recording Merchandisers’ Definitive 200 list at number 26. The album ranked at number 50 on Rolling Stone’s 2012 update to the Women Who Rock – The 50 Greatest Albums of All Time list. The album was included on Billboard’s Best Selling Pop album of the 1990s, where it was placed at number one.
The success of Jagged Little Pill was credited with leading to the introduction of female singers such as Shakira, Tracy Bonham, and Meredith Brooks in the late 90s, and Pink, Michelle Branch and Avril Lavigne in the early 2000s. Katy Perry cites Jagged Little Pill as a significant musical inspiration, and opted to work with Ballard as a result.
In 2018, the album won the Polaris Heritage Prize Audience Award in the 1986–1995 category.
Argentina – Platinum (60,000)
Australia – 14× Platinum (1,020,000)
Austria – 2× Platinum (100,000)
Belgium – 2× Platinum (100,000)
Brazil – Gold (100,000)
Canada – 2× Diamond (2,000,000)
Europe – 7× Platinum (7,000,000)
Finland – Platinum (10,000)
France – Platinum (411,600)
Germany – 2× Platinum (1,000,000)
Netherlands – 4× Platinum (400,000)
New Zealand – Platinum (15,000)
Norway – Platinum (50,000)
Poland – Gold (50,000)
Spain – 3× Platinum (300,000)
Sweden – 2× Platinum (200,000)
Switzerland – Platinum (50,000)
United Kingdom – 10× Platinum (2,780,000)
United States – 16× Platinum (15,000,000)
• Due to the success of the album, Alanis toured worldwide for a total of 18 months.A VHS and DVD was released under the title Jagged Little Pill, Live that also received positive reviews from music critics as well.
• The tour travelled to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, the United Kingdom, South America, Asia, the United States and her native Canada.
• Six singles were released from the album, with the first five each receiving music videos. You Oughta Know was released on July 6, 1995; Hand in My Pocket on October 31, 1995; Ironic on February 27, 1996; You Learn on July 9, 1996; Head Over Feeton September 16, 1996; All I Really Want on December 1, 1994.
• The music video for Ironic also became one of the most popular music videos on MTV and MuchMusic.