It was hard to exist in the 1990s and not be surrounded by Alanis Morisette. Beloved by all, the Canadian singer was a near constant on both the radio and TV. The most interesting thing of all though is that nobody minded one little bit.
While she may have started singing dance-pop up in Canada, Alanis Morisette didn’t become a house-hold name until the release of her third album Jagged Little Pill. The album, a brilliant slice of rock influenced pop, became a phenomenon, launching Alanis into the highest tiers of celebrity.
33 million records don’t just sell by fluke though, and going back to Jagged Little Pill, it’s still so very easy to see how it caught the collective imaginations of people worldwide.
From the raucous guitar to her raw and uneven vocal, Alanis had made an album in Jagged Little Pill that went completely against the packaged and oh-so-neat conventions of the time. It was also something that an entire generation of kids could get behind. Those left behind after the break down of the grunge scene and left cold by Hanson finally had someone to rally behind.
Singing about messy break ups, struggling to deal with world and moving on with some semblance of dignity, Alanis Morisette was breath of fresh air to the pop world. The Sp
ice Girls might have said they stood for ‘girl power’, but it was Alanis who really showed what girl power could be.
The impact of the album wasn’t just for Alanis herself though. The massive success of Jagged Little Pill opened all sorts of doors in the music industry. It showed that pop didn’t have to sweet. It didn’t have to have a nice ending and that real feelings and emotion in music were to be absolutely embraced, not hidden under harmonies.
Labels now wanted to cultivate singers with personality and encourage those they already had on their books to bare their souls on their records for the world to see. Nelly Furtado, Meredith Brooks and Natalie Imbruglia all popped all offering a different angle of girl-with-guitar riding on the coat tails of Alanis’ successes. Sheryl Crow became more personal and angry and Garbage’s profile went through the roof.
That they all succeeded independently shows that the market had suddenly become one of the hottest tickets in town. All of that wouldn’t be possible without Alanis Morisette and Jagged Little Pill.
With that album and her follow up Supposed Former Infatuated Junkie, she once again laid down the blueprint that singer songwriters still follow to this day. Strong, moody, emotional and insular, it’s a formula that’s still the go to place for solo guitar-based singers.
The impact of Jagged Little Pill cannot be understated, as it not only changed the career of Alanis Morisette, but changed
Without Alanis we wouldn’t have Pink and any of the other women with attitudes that have become such a key part of the music world.
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith