Ottawa’s Alanis Morissette had a busy childhood. She wrote songs, entertained patients at hospitals, starred in You Can’t Do That On Television, released her first single “Fate Stay with Me” in 1987 when she was just 13, performed at the Tulip Festival, sung the national anthem at sporting events, attracted the attention of Leslie Howard of band One to One, recorded a demo, was signed by John Alexander at MCA, and her platinum debut album spawned three Top 40 hits as did her second.
Due to her success, Alexander contacted Paula Abdul agent Scott Welch to secure a stateside release for Alanis’ two albums. To make a long story short, Welch eventually suggested she go to Los Angeles and meet Michael Jackson songwriter-producer Glen Ballard. Ballard and his team were so impressed with her they signed her onto Madonna’s label Maverick Records under the Warner Music Group. Ballard and Morissette clicked almost immediately as a song-writing duo and recorded the alternative rock ripper Jagged Little Pill which was released on June 13, 1995.
Single “You Oughta Know” was immediately picked up by a local radio station and was soon being played across the U.S. She performed the song at the MTV Awards in New York and on Saturday Night Live. “You Oughta Know” was released in Canada in early summer 1995. It scaled up to #20 then looked as if it was on its way out. But it began a second climb and eventually broke into the Top 10 peaking at #6. It won the Song of the Year award at the Junos. The second single appeared on the charts on October 9th. It broke into the Top 40 November 6th and began receiving extensive radio airplay. The following week it was at #25, the week after #5, and then it replaced Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” at #1. It was the 11th biggest song of the year and made the year-end chart the following year as well. And that song was “Hand in My Pocket”.
From there everything snowballed. The next three singles “Ironic”, “You Learn”, and “Head Over Feet” all topped the charts. In short, the album became the first Canadian release to spawn four number one hits. The year-end chart for 1996 had three of them in the Top 10, including the biggest song of the year, “You Learn”. “Ironic” was named song of the year at the Junos in 1997.
Jagged Little Pill sold like nobody’s business. There was talk back in the day of record stores having trouble keeping copies in stock. It ended up hitting double diamond status in Canada for sales in excess of 2 million copies. It is estimated that Jagged Little Pill sold 33 million copies worldwide. It won the Album of the Year JUNO and album of the year Grammy in the States. Alanis went on tour for a year and a half which took her 252-date show to 28 countries.
The album was very influential. In the words of the JUNO Awards, Alanis “changed the face of the music industry for women, not only in Canada, but worldwide”. A number of modern recording artists have cited it as the reason they went into music. To name one: Katy Perry. This year, Canadian recording artist Alanis Morissette was inducted into the Music Hall of Fame. Today, we celebrate Jagged Little Pill’s 20th birthday.