Skip to main content
Select Source:

Morissette, Alanis

Alanis Morissette

Singer, songwriter

Alanis Morissette's 1995 release Jagged Little Pill sold more than 25 million copies around the world and won her four Grammy Awards. Its slew of hit singles, kicked off with the vituperative "You Oughta Know," made Morissette an alternative music star overnight. Yet the singer-songwriter also endured some flak for her success, especially after word leaked out that she had suffered a rather unsuccessful earlier incarnation as a big-haired, drum-machine-backed teen singer in Canada. Nevertheless, the candid songs of Jagged Little Pill, penned by Morissette as she matured out of her teens, spoke to a broad cross-section of adolescents and adults alike. Morissette's subsequent albums, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie and Under Rug Swept, while successful albums themselves, failed to live up to the precedent set by the astonishing sales figures of Jagged Little Pill.

Morissette was born on June 1, 1974, in Ottawa, Ontario, one of a set of twins born to Alan and Georgia Morissette. Alanis and her twin Wade joined older brother Chad, and for a time the family lived in Europe when the elder Morissettes, both teachers, took jobs at a military base school. As a young teen in Ottawa again, Morissette attended Catholic schools and was a straight-A student. A self-described overachiever, she began piano at age of six and wrote her first song at age nine, and her talents eventually landed her on television. Her biggest success came with a recurring role on You Can't Do That on Television, a kids' show on the Nickelodeon cable channel in the mid-1980s.

With the earnings from the television show, Morissette produced her first single on her own label, Lamor Records. The 1987 release, "Fate Stay with Me," was recorded with the musical expertise from former members of the Stampeders, Canadian rockers who had a 1971 hit with "Sweet City Woman." As a single written by a 13-year-old, "Fate Stay with Me" was no monster hit but did attract the attention of MCA Canada, who signed Morissette. Her first full-length record, Alanis, debuted in 1991, followed by Now Is the Time a year later.

It was not yet Morissette's time at all. Her career enjoyed some minor successes, but she remained pigeonholed; MCA even had her touring with the always-maligned Vanilla Ice. She did get a chance to hone her songwriting skills over two albums, however, and later, after her major success with Jagged Little Pill, refused to be embarrassed by a persona whom unkind journalists compared with 1980s pop stars Debbie Gibson or Tiffany. "I wasn't writing to communicate anything, and I was definitely not ready on the self-esteem level to indulge myself and all my personal turmoil," she told J. D. Considine of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Jagged Little Pill would bare some of the personal dramas that engulfed Morissette in typical coming-of- age passages, but she has spoken about certain moments in her late teens as definite turning points. In one incident, she had a breakdown in front of her parents, partly as a result of the pressures she felt as a combination teen star/overachiever/perfect daughter. Discovering the 1991 Tori Amos LP Little Earthquakes helped inspire Morissette to begin writing from the heart. Coincidentally, Amos had also suffered an off-target launch as an alterna-pop performer under the moniker Y Kant Tori Read, and later succeeded by writing straightforward, deeply personal songs.

Morissette came to see the necessity of leaving Canada for the more inspiring climes of Los Angeles. Like Axl Rose stepping off the bus in the video for "Welcome to the Jungle," she underwent the usual big-city trials during her first weeks. She was held up at gunpoint. She was broke. She tried to find someone to work with, but no one seemed to click. Finally she approached Glen Ballard, an unlikely hero. Ballard was a producer with a home studio who had crafted tunes for Wilson Phillips and Paula Abdul. But he didn't try to mold her into something salable: "I felt that he wasn't judging me, and I felt that he had enough security within himself to give the ball to a 20-year-old and let her go with it," she told Considine. Within a period of two weeks, they recorded most of what would become Jagged Little Pill, and shopped their demo tape around. Executives at Maverick Records heard it and signed Morissette in 1994. Their ultimate boss, however, was none other than Madonna, who became CEO of the subsidiary as part of her lavish contract with Warner Bros. Morissette was just 20 years old.

Unimaginable Success

Jagged Little Pill, released in the spring of 1995, displayed a drastic change from Morissette's former recording efforts. "The sound is more muscular; her voice is rawer, the guitar work more aggressive," wrote Christopher John Farley in Time, "and while the words are rarely as smart as they seem to think they are, this is straight-ahead rock, sweetened somewhat with pop melodiousness." Its initial single, "You Oughta Know," was a catchy diatribe against a former lover. Later, rumors surfaced that Morissette may have been writing about someone specific she had dated, such as television comic Dave Coulier, but the singer has said that it was merely a composite of several doomed relationships.

Success made Morissette an easy target for criticism, however, once her new American fans—who had never heard of her—discovered her previous incarnation via snipey rock critics. There were rumors that Maverick was surreptitiously buying up all unsold copies of the early-1990s releases, and worse, that Ballard had done much of the work for Jagged Little Pill. Yet Morissette refused to evade her former teenybopper persona, and debunked the tales of Maverick's attempts to hide it. Instead, she told Jon Beam of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune that her early brush with fame helped her keep a level head when the real fame came knocking. Her experiences, she asserted, "made me not become a heroin addict and become completely overwhelmed with how crazy this life is that I'm leading right now."

For the Record …

Born Alanis Nadine Morissette on June 1, 1974, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; daughter of Alan (a high school principal) and Georgia (a teacher) Morissette.

Worked as a child actor, mid-1980s; released first single, "Fate Stay with Me," on Lamor Records, 1987; signed with MCA Canada; released first full-length LP, Alanis, 1991; signed with Maverick Records, 1994; released Jagged Little Pill, 1995; released Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, 1998; acted in film Dogma, 1999; released Under Rug Swept, 2002; released So-Called Chaos, 2004; released Jagged Little Pill Acoustic, 2005; released Alanis Morissette: The Collection, 2005; released Flavors of Entanglement, 2008.

Awards: Juno Awards, Most Promising Female Artist for Alanis, 1992; Grammy Awards, Album of the Year, Best Rock Album, Best Rock Song, and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for "You Oughta Know," all from Jagged Little Pill, 1996; Best Long Form Music Video for Jagged Little Pill, 1997; Grammy Award, Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, Best Rock Song for "Uninvited," 1998; Juno Award, Best Album for Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, 2000.

Addresses: Record company—Maverick Recording Company, 9348 Civic Center Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210; 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019. Web site—Alanis Morissette Official Web site: http://www.alanis.com.

Morissette's newly out-of-control life included extensive touring in support of Jagged Little Pill throughout much of 1995 and 1996. In early 1996 the record won four Grammy Awards, including album of the year, and Jagged Little Pill would eventually sell more than 25 million copies worldwide. Not surprisingly, given the fervor of her fan base, Morissette has described singing onstage as similar to a religious experience: "When I'm onstage, it's very spiritual. I feel very close to God when I'm up there," she told Rolling Stone's David Wild. Another journalist likened Morissette's stage show to "kind of like waiting for someone to have a breakdown," wrote Jae-Ha Kim in the Chicago Sun-Times. "Flailing her arms and moving about in a pigeon-toed stance, she appears most comfortable when her face is covered by her mane of hair."

Took Personal Time Off

Still, fame did have its pressures. She began avoiding interviews with members of the Canadian media, granting access only to American journalists. Fans eagerly awaited a follow-up to Jagged Little Pill, but, after finishing a heavy year of touring in 1996, Morissette stayed close to home, and eschewed all interviews and appearances. She took a break from her newfound fame and traveled the world, including visits India and Cuba, where she did some major soul-searching. She told Billboard's Timothy White, "I made up for a lot of lost time … time lost because I had always been so focused on my music." She also participated in several triathlons held near Los Angeles. She used this time to focus on pursuing other, non-music related goals. "I love doing things that scare me," she told Beam in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune interview. "It makes me feel alive and challenged. It makes me feel like I'm growing. That comfort-zone area, I hate it."

After her travels, Morissette questioned whether or not she wanted to return to the music industry, nearly deciding to give it up. It was a conversation with a friend that made her realize she could give it up any time she wanted, and this realization made her continue writing songs. In order to remove the pressure she felt, Alanis told White in Billboard, "I [had] to be willing to let go completely of ever doing this again." After that breakthrough, she immediately began writing songs for her next album. She had success with a single released prior to her next album, "Uninvited," featured on the City of Angels soundtrack. She won two Grammys for the song, which Entertainment Weekly called "the musical equivalent of a castle door creaking open," praising the album for its use of "simple, chilly piano notes and Morissette's recognizably wracked soprano."

Morissette's travels and spiritual searching heavily influenced the content of her next album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, released in 1998. The Houston Chronicle hailed the album as "an introspective, spiritual masterpiece … virtually ignored by a young audience not ready to look inward." The album, although universally praised by critics, did not sell nearly as well as Jagged Little Pill, although it did reach the triple platinum mark. The songs on Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie were a departure from the rage and anger that Morissette became known for on Jagged Little Pill. She questioned her Catholic upbringing in "Baba," thanked India for her newfound perspective and recognized her own divinity in "Thank U," and even revisited her path to teenage teenybopper fame in "UR."

Returned to Acting

Alanis returned to acting in 1999, playing the role of God in Kevin Smith's film Dogma. Smith, when asked by Entertainment Weekly why he chose Morissette for the role, had a quick answer: "Typecasting. Alanis, she's the closest thing to the divine here on earth." Morissette, who, like director Kevin Smith, was raised Catholic, said her upbringing made her appreciate the satire even more. "I doubt I would have thought the movie was as funny as I did. I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I've been questioning my own Catholicism since as far back as I can remember." She reprised her role with a cameo in Smith's 2001 film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

In the spring of 2002, Morissette released her third album, Under Rug Swept, for Maverick. Although still extremely popular, she had her share of detractors by this time, perhaps due to her early teenage pop career. Canadian Musician writer Jim Kelley recognized that "Morissette drew many doubters who questioned her credibility, alleging that her co-writer and producer Glen Ballard was the real, creative force behind her success." Morissette proved that she was indeed the force behind the success by writing, producing, and arranging her next album by herself. Morissette described her experience of producing her album as "baptism by fire" in Newsweek. Still, it was a challenge she enjoyed. "I'm always in over my head. As soon as I'm not, I go somewhere else."

Under Rug Swept went platinum within a week, but was not as critically praised as Morissette's previous albums. A Time magazine writer voiced the complaint that many critics had: "How many different ways can Morissette find to voice the same trite complaint?" The material on Under Rug Swept struck a balance between her first two albums, incorporating elements of spirituality, self-confession, and anger in its lyrics. MTV.com's Jennifer Vineyard wrote, "Under Rug Swept dusts off the same topics [as Jagged Little Pill]—love, sex, cruelty—with the added vantage of years spent growing up." Morissette's growing maturity showed on each successive album. She also added the title of producer to her array of other titles—writer, singer, and actress, among others. At that point, she had no plans to stop soon, telling Vineyard, "I feel like I want to write a whole other album right now."

In 2004, Morissette hosted the Juno Awards in Canada, dressed in a bathrobe. Protesting recent incidents of censorship, she removed the robe during the ceremony to reveal a flesh-colored body suit. In May of 2004, Morissette released So-Called Chaos, which she co-produced with Tim Thorney and John Shanks. The album reached number five on the Billboard 200, and the single "Everything" rose to number four on the Top 40. Although a number of critics had reservations about So-Called Chaos, Stephen Thomas Erlewine noted in All Music Guide that the album was, "her most satisfying since her blockbuster breakthrough." In the summer of 2004, Morissette toured the United States with the Canadian rock group Barenaked Ladies. In June of 2005 she celebrated the tenth anniversary of Jagged Little Pill with Jagged Little Pill Acoustic, an album that revisited the earlier material from a more mature point of view. For the first six weeks, Jagged Little Pill Acoustic was marketed exclusively by Starbucks' Hear Music.

At the end of 2005 Maverick released Alanis Morissette: The Collection, which offered both an overview of the singer's career along with new songs. A cover of Seal's "Crazy" was issued as a single and reached the Billboard Top 40, the European Top 100 Singles, and the Pop 100. Morissette also received a nomination for a Golden Globe for best original song for "Wunderkind," which appeared on the soundtrack for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In 2007, on April Fools Day, Morissette released a widely circulated music-video parody of the Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps," later explaining that she had recorded the material as a way of letting off steam during the recording sessions for her new album. In the spring of 2008 Morissette issued Flavors of Entanglement, her seventh studio album. Because the album followed a well-publicized break up with actor, Ryan Reynolds, it was easy for critics to draw a connection between the material and her personal life. Erlewine wrote that Flavors of Entanglement was, "[…] a classic breakup record." Despite criticism and personal challenges, Morissette seems determined to forge a career on her own terms.

Selected discography

"Fate Stay with Me," Lamor, 1987.

Alanis, MCA Canada, 1991.

Now Is the Time, MCA Canada, 1992.

Jagged Little Pill, Maverick, 1995.

Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, Maverick, 1998.

Alanis Unplugged (live), Maverick, 1999.

Under Rug Swept, Maverick, 2002.

So-Called Chaos, Maverick, 2004.

Jagged Little Pill Acoustic, Maverick, 2005.

Alanis Morissette: The Collection, Maverick, 2005.

Flavors of Entanglement, Maverick, 2008.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, May 13, 1995; March 9, 1996; October 3, 1998; February 12, 2000.

Canadian Musician, March 2002.

Chicago Sun-Times, March 1, 1996; March 4, 1996.

Detroit News, March 1, 2002.

Entertainment Weekly, April 3, 1998; November 6, 1998.

Hollywood Reporter, May 6, 2002.

Houston Chronicle, March 27, 2002.

Interview, November 1999.

Maclean's, November 23, 1998.

Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, March 11, 1996.

Newsweek, March 4, 2002.

People, December 30, 1996.

Rolling Stone, November 2, 1995.

San Diego Union-Tribune, March 6, 1996.

Time, February 26, 1996.

Online

"Alanis Morisette," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (June 15, 2008).

"The Silence is Over," MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/bands/m/morissette_alanis/news_feature_011802/?_requestid (September 20, 2002).

"Under Rug Swept," Time.com, http://www.time.com/time/sampler/printout/0,8816,220205,00.html=18816 (September 20, 2002).

—Carol Brennan and Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Morissette, Alanis." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Morissette, Alanis." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/morissette-alanis-1

"Morissette, Alanis." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/morissette-alanis-1

Morissette, Alanis

Alanis Morissette

Singer

Debbie Gibson of Canada

Unimaginable Success

Took Personal Time Off

Returned to Acting

Selected discography

Sources

Alanis Morissettes 1995 release Jagged Little Pill sold more than 25 million copies around the world and won her four Grammy Awards. Its slew of hit singles, kicked off with the vituperative You Oughta Know, made Morissette an alternative music star over-night. Yet the singer-songwriter also endured some flak for her success, especially after word leaked out that she had suffered a rather unsuccessful earlier incarnation as a big-haired, drum-machine-backed teen singer in Canada. Nevertheless, the candid songs of Jagged Little Pill, penned by Morissette as she matured out of her teens, spoke to a broad cross-section of adolescents and adults alike. Morissettes subsequent albums, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie and Under Rug Swept, while successful albums themselves, have not lived up to the precedent set by the astonishing sales figures of Jagged Little Pill.

Morissette was born on June 1, 1974, in Ottawa, Ontario, one of a set of twins born to Alan and Georgia Morissette. Alanis and her twin Wade joined older brother Chad, and for a time the family lived in Europe when the elder Morissettes, both teachers, took jobs at a military base school. As a young teen in Ottawa again, Morissette attended Catholic schools and was a straight-A student. A self-described overachiever, she began piano at age of six and wrote her first song at age nine, and her talents eventually landed her on television. Her biggest success came with a recurring role on You Cant Do That on Television, a kids show on the Nickelodeon cable channel in the mid-1980s.

Debbie Gibson of Canada

With the earnings from the television show, Morissette produced her first single on her own label, Lamor Records. The 1987 release, Fate Stay with Me, was recorded with the musical expertise from former members of the Stampeders, Canadian rockers who had a 1971 hit with Sweet City Woman. As a single written by a 13-year-old, Fate Stay with Me was no monster hit but did attract the attention of MCA Canada, who signed Morissette. Her first full-length record, Alanis, debuted in 1991, followed by Now Is the Time a year later.

But it was not yet Morissettes time at all. Her career enjoyed some minor successes, but she remained pigeonholed; MCA even had her touring with the always-maligned Vanilla Ice. She did get a chance to hone her songwriting skills over two albums, however, and later, after her major success with Jagged Little Pill, refused to be embarrassed by a persona whom unkind journalists compared with 1980s pop stars Debbie Gibson or Tiffany. I wasnt writing to communicate anything, and I was definitely not ready on the selfesteem level to indulge myself and all my personal turmoil, she told J.D. Considine of the Chicago Sun-Times.

For the Record

Born Alains Nadine Morissete on June 1, 1974, in Ottawa, Ontario.

Worked as a child actor, mid-1980s; released first single, Fate Stay with Me, on Lamor Records, 1987; signed with MCA Canada; released first full-length LP, Alanis, 1991; signed with Maverick Records, 1994; released Jagged Little Pill, 1995; released Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, 1998; acted in film Dogma, 1999; released Under Rug Swept, 2002.

Awards: Juno Awards, Most Promising Female Artist for Alanis, 1992, and Best Album for Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, 2000; Grammy Awards, Album of the Year, Best Rock Album, Best Rock Song and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for You Oughta Know, all from Jagged Little Pill, all 1996; Best Long Form Music Video for Jagged Little Pill, 1997; Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song for Uninvited, 1998.

Addresses: Record company Maverick Recording Company, 9348 Civic Center Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210; 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019, website: http://www.maverickrc.com. Publicist MSO, 14724 Ventura Blvd., Suite 410, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403. Website Alanis Morissette Official Website: http://www.alanis.com.

Jagged Little Pill would bare some of the personal dramas that engulfed Morissette in typical coming-of-age passages, but she has spoken about certain moments in her late teens as definite turning points. In one incident, she had a breakdown in front of her parents, partly as a result of the pressures she felt as a combination teen star/overachiever/perfect daughter. Discovering the 1991 Tori Amos LP Little Earthquake helped inspire Morissette to begin writing from the heart. Coincidentally, Amos had also suffered an off-target launch as an alterna-pop performer under the moniker Y Kant Tori Read, and later succeeded by writing straightforward, deeply personal songs.

Morissette came to see the necessity of leaving Canada for the more inspiring climes of Los Angeles. Like Axl Rose stepping off the bus in the video for Welcome to the Jungle, she underwent the usual big-city trials during her first weeks. She was held up at gunpoint. She was broke. She tried to find someone to work with, but no one seemed to click. Finally she approached Glen Ballard, an unlikely hero. Ballard was a producer with a home studio who had crafted tunes for Wilson Phillips and Paula Abdul. But he didnt try to mold her into something salable: I felt that he wasnt judging me, and I felt that he had enough security within himself to give the ball to a 20-year-old and let her go with it, she told J. D. Considine of the Chicago Sun-Times. Within a period of two weeks, they recorded most of what would become Jagged Little Pill, and shopped their demo tape around. Executives at Maverick Records heard it and signed Morissette in 1994. Their ultimate boss, however, is none other than Madonna, who became CEO of the subsidiary as part of her lavish contract with Warner Bros. Morissette was just 20 years old.

Unimaginable Success

Jagged Little Pill, released in the spring of 1995, displayed a drastic change from Morissettes former recording efforts. The sound is more muscular; her voice is rawer, the guitar work more aggressive, wrote Christopher John Farley in Time, and while the words are rarely as smart as they seem to think they are, this is straight-ahead rock, sweetened somewhat with pop melodiousness. Its initial single, You Oughta Know, was a catchy diatribe against a former lover. Later, rumors surfaced that Morissette may have been writing about someone specific she had dated, such as television comic Dave Coulier, but the singer has said that it was merely a composite of several doomed relationships.

Success made Morissette an easy target for criticism, however, once her new American fanswho had never heard of herdiscovered her previous incarnation via snipey rock critics. There were rumors that Maverick was surreptitiously buying up all unsold copies of the early-1990s releases, and worse, that Ballard had done much of the work for Jagged Little Pill. Yet Morissette refused to evade her former teenybopper persona, and debunked the tales of Mavericks attempts to hide it. Instead, she told Jon Beam of the Minneapolis St. Paul Star Tribune that her early brush with fame helped her keep a level head when the real fame came knocking. Her experiences, she asserted, made me not become a heroin addict and become completely overwhelmed with how crazy this life is that Im leading right now.

Morissettes newly out-of-control life included extensive touring in support of Jagged Little Pill throughout much of 1995 and 1996. In early 1996 the record won four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, and Jagged Little Pill would eventually sell more than 25 million copies worldwide. Nor surprisingly, given the fervor of her fan base, Morissette has described singing onstage as similar to a religious experience: When Im onstage, its very spiritual. I feel very close to God when Im up there, she told Rolling Stones David Wild. Another journalist likened Morissettes stage show to kind of like waiting for someone to have a breakdown, wrote Jae-Ha Kim in the Chicago Sun-Times. Flailing her arms and moving about in a pigeontoed stance, she appears most comfortable when her face is covered by her mane of hair.

Took Personal Time Off

Still, fame did have its pressures. She began avoiding interviews with members of the Canadian media, granting access only to American journalists. Fans eagerly awaited a follow-up to Jagged Little Pill, but, after finishing a heavy year of touring in 1996, Morissette stayed close to home, and eschewed all interviews and appearances. She took a break from her newfound fame and traveled the world, including visits to the countries India and Cuba, where she did some major soul-searching. She told Billboards Timothy White, I made up for a lot of lost time time lost because I had always been so focused on my music. She also participated in several triathlons held near Los Angeles. She used this time to focus on pursuing other, non-music related goals. I love doing things that scare me, she told Beam in the Minneapolis-St Paul Star Tribune interview. It makes me feel alive and challenged. It makes me feel like Im growing. That comfort-zone area, I hate it.

After her travels, Morissette questioned whether or not she wanted to return to the music industry, nearly deciding to give it up. It was a conversation with a friend that made her realize she could give it up any time she wanted, and this realization made her continue writing songs. In order to remove the pressure she felt, Alanis told White in Billboard, I [had] to be willing to let go completely of ever doing this again. After that breakthrough, she immediately began writing songs for her next album. She had success with a single released prior to her next album, Uninvited, featured on the City of Angels soundtrack. She won two Grammys for the song, which Entertainment Weekly called the musical equivalent of a castle door creaking open, praising the album for its use of simple, chilly piano notes and Morissettes recognizably wracked soprano.

Morissettes travels and spiritual searching heavily influenced the content of her next album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, released in 1998. The Houston Chronicle hailed the album as an introspective, spiritual masterpiece virtually ignored by a young audience not ready to look inward. The album, although universally praised by critics, did not sell nearly as well as Jagged Little Pill, although it did reach the triple platinum mark. The songs on Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie were a departure from the rage and anger that Morissette became known for on Jagged Little Pill. She questioned her Catholic upbringing in Baba, thanked India for her newfound perspective and recognized her own divinity in Thank U, and even revisited her path to teenage teenybopper fame in UR.

Returned to Acting

Alanis returned to acting in 1999, playing the role of God in Kevin Smiths film Dogma. Smith, when asked by Entertainment Weekly why he chose Morissette for the role, had a quick answer: Typecasting. Alanis, shes the closest thing to the divine here on earth. Morissette, who, like director Kevin Smith, was raised Catholic, said her upbringing made her appreciate the satire even more. I doubt I would have thought the movie was as funny as I did. I think that had a lot to do with the fact that Ive been questioning my own Catholicism since as far back as I can remember. She reprised her role with a cameo in Smiths 2001 film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

Morissette released her third album, Under Rug Swept, for Maverick in the spring of 2002. Although still extremely popular, she had her share of detractors by this time, perhaps due to her early teenage pop career. Canadian Musician writer Jim Kelley recognized that Morissette drew many doubters who questioned her credibility, alleging that her co-writer and producer Glen Ballard was the real, creative force behind her success. Morissette proved that she was indeed the force behind the success by writing, producing, and arranging her next album by herself. Morissette described her experience of producing her album as baptism by fire in Newsweek. Still, it was a challenge she enjoyed. Im always in over my head. As soon as Im not, I go somewhere else.

Under Rug Swept went platinum within a week, but was not as critically praised as Morissettes previous albums. A Time magazine writer voiced the complaint that many critics had: How many different ways can Morissette find to voice the same trite complaint? The material on Under Rug Swept struck a balance between her first two albums, incorporating elements of spirituality, self-confession, and anger in its lyrics. MTV.coms Jennifer Vineyard wrote, Under Rug Swept dusts off the same topics [as Jagged Little Pill ]love, sex, crueltywith the added vantage of years spent growing up. Morissettes growing maturity is evident on each album, and she has added the title of producer to her array of other titleswriter, singer, and actress, among others. She has no plans to stop soon, telling Vineyard, I feel like I want to write a whole other album right now.

Selected discography

Fate Stay with Me, Lamor, 1987.

Alanis, MCA Canada, 1991.

Now Is the Time, MCA Canada, 1992.

Jagged Little Pill, Maverick, 1995.

Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, Maverick, 1998.

Alanis Unplugged (live), Maverick, 1999.

Under Rug Swept, Maverick, 2002.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, May 13, 1995; March 9, 1996; October 3, 1998; February 12, 2000.

Canadian Musician, March 2002.

Chicago Sun-Times, March 1, 1996; March 4, 1996.

Detroit News, March 1, 2002.

Entertainment Weekly, April 3, 1998; November 6, 1998.

Hollywood Reporter, May 6, 2002.

Houston Chronicle, March 27, 2002.

Interview, November 1999.

Macleans, November 23, 1998.

Minneapolis-Si. Paul Star Tribune, March 11, 1996.

Newsweek, March 4, 2002.

People, December 30, 1996.

Rolling Stone, November 2, 1995.

San Diego Union-Tribune, March 6, 1996.

Time, February 26, 1996.

Online

The Silence is Over, MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/bands/m/morissette_alanis/news_feature_011802/?_requestid (September 20, 2002).

Under Rug Swept, Time.com, http://www.time.com/time/sampler/printout/0,8816,220205,00.html=18816 (September 20, 2002).

Carol Brennan

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Morissette, Alanis." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Morissette, Alanis." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/morissette-alanis-0

"Morissette, Alanis." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/morissette-alanis-0

Morissette, Alanis 1974–

MORISSETTE, Alanis 1974–

(Alanis, Alanis Nadine)

PERSONAL

Given name is pronounced Uh–lan–is; full name, Alanis Nadine Morissette; born June 1, 1974, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; daughter of Alan (a high school principal) and Georgia (a teacher; maiden name, Feuerstein) Morissette. Education: Attended secondary school in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Avocational Interests: Painting, drawing, writing poetry, traveling, surfing.

Addresses: Agent—Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Manager—Scott Welch, Mosaic Media Group, 9200 Sunset Blvd., 10th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90069. Publicist—Mitch Schneider Organization, 14724 Ventura Blvd., Suite 410, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403. Contact—c/o Maverick Recording Company, 9348 Civic Center Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210–3606.

Career: Singer, songwriter, actress, producer, director, and production designer. Singer on tour and at various venues; also performed comedy at the Improv, Los Angeles; appeared in the Internet broadcast "Alanis Morissette Live Online from New Orleans," 1999; founder of Lamor Records; financial backer for musicals. Appeared in commercials for Gap clothing, 2001, and the Web site Tolerance.org, 2002. Volunteer for charitable organizations.

Awards, Honors: Juno Award, Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, most promising female artist, 1992, for Alanis; Grammy awards, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, album of the year and best rock album, and Grammy Award nomination, best new artist, all 1996, for Jagged Little Pill; Grammy awards, best rock song and best female rock vocal performance, and Grammy Award nomination, song of the year, all 1996, for "You Oughta Know"; March 8, 1996 proclaimed Alanis Morissette Day in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Grammy Award, best long–form music video, 1997, for Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill—Live; Film and Television Music Award, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, most performed song from motion pictures, Golden Globe Award nomination, best original song for a motion picture, and Grammy Award nomination, best song written specifically for a motion picture or for television, all 1999, for "Uninvited," City of Angels; Juno Award, best album, 2000, for Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie; Juno Award, producer of the year, 2003; several certifications from Recording Industry Association of America, including platinum certifications for Alanis, 1991, Jagged Little Pill, c. 1995, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, and Under Rug Swept; American Music awards and other Juno awards; Global Tolerance Award, Friends of the United Nations.

CREDITS

Television Appearances; Series:

(Uncredited) You Can't Do That on Television (also known as You Can't Do That on TV), CTV and Nickelodeon, 1986.

Host, Music Works, CBC, beginning 1994.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Herself, Borderline High, YTV, 1992.

The Mastercard Masters of Music Concert for the Prince's Trust, HBO, 1996.

MTV Presents: Alanis Morissette, MTV, 1998.

The Nobel Peace Concert, Fox Family Channel, 1998.

Herself, The Rankin File: Music, Money, and the Web, VH1, 1999.

Alanis T.V., 1999.

Amnesty International Concert for Human Rights, 1999.

Saturday Night Live 25: The Music, 1995–1999, NBC, 1999.

Woodstock 99, Fox, 1999.

Woodstock '99 Revisited, MTV, 1999.

Experience Music Project Grand Opening, VH1, 2000.

Class Dismissed with Alanis Morissette, 2001.

Come Together: A Night for John Lennon's Words and Music, TNT and The WB, 2001.

French & Saunders Spring Special, 2001.

Testimony: 20 Years of Rock on MTV, MTV, 2001.

American Bandstand's 50th Anniversary, 2002.

Summer Music Mania 2002, Fox, 2002.

Commentator, 100 Greatest Videos, VH1, 2003.

100 Greatest Women of Rock 'n' Roll, VH1, c. 2003.

95.8 Capital FM's Party in the Park for the Prince's Trust 2002, 2004.

(In archive footage) 101 Biggest Celebrity Oops, E! Entertainment Television, 2004.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

The 1995 MTV Video Music Awards, MTV, 1995.

The Brit Awards '96, ABC, 1996.

The 1996 MTV Video Music Awards, MTV, 1996.

The 1996 World Music Awards, ABC, 1996.

The 38th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS, 1996.

The 41st Annual Grammy Awards, CBS, 1999.

The 31st Annual Juno Awards, 2002.

The 32nd Annual Juno Awards, 2003.

2003 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 2003.

Host, The 33rd Annual Juno Awards, 2004.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

(As Alanis Nadine) Star Search, syndicated, 1989.

ABC in Concert, ABC, 1991.

Saturday Night Live (also known as NBC's Saturday Night, Saturday Night, and SNL), NBC, 1995, 1998.

The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS, 1995, 1999, 2002, 2004.

Later with Jools Holland, BBC, 1995, 2004.

Die Harald Schmidt Show, 1996.

Storytellers, VH1, 1996.

Holmes, 1996, 1998.

Top of the Pops, 1996, 2002, 2003.

El septimo de caballeria, 1998.

Hey Hey, It's Saturday, 1998.

Sen kvaell med Luuk, 1998.

"Alanis Morissette," Behind the Music (also known as VH1's Behind the Music), VH1, 1999.

"Alanis Morissette," MTV Unplugged, MTV, 1999.

Otro rollo con: Adal Ramones, 1999.

"100 Greatest Women in Rock and Roll," 100 Greatest, VH1, c. 1999.

Dawn, "Boy, Girl, Boy, Girl…," Sex and the City, HBO, 2000.

Breakfast, BBC, 2000.

Herself, "The Terrorist Attack," Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO, 2002.

CD: UK, 2002.

Last Call with Carson Daly, NBC, 2002.

Lo mas plus, 2002.

Musica si, 2002.

V Graham Norton, Channel 4 (England), 2002.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, multiple appearances, beginning 2002.

The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, CBS, 2002, 2003.

The View, ABC, 2002, 2004.

"50 Greatest Women of the Video Era," 100 Greatest, VH1, 2003.

(Uncredited) "Mesa para dois," Celebridade, 2003.

"100 Greatest Songs of the Past 25 Years," 100 Greatest, VH1, 2003.

Pepsi Smash, The WB, 2003, 2004.

Herself, "Popparit Bushin kimpussa," 4Pop, 2004.

Herself, "Vinokas elokuvamusikaali," 4Pop, 2004.

Herself, "Wetten, dass…? aus Berlin," Wetten, das…?, 2004.

Singer in the Lair, "What Dreams May Come," American Dreams, NBC, 2004.

Herself and various characters, MADtv, Fox, 2004.

Herself, Real Time with Bill Maher, HBO, 2004.

Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show (also known as Ellen and The Ellen DeGeneres Show), syndicated, 2004.

The Howard Stern Show, E! Entertainment Television, 2004.

Jimmy Kimmel Live, ABC, 2004.

Live with Regis and Kelly, syndicated, 2004.

Musica uno, 2004.

On–Air with Ryan Seacrest, syndicated, 2004.

Pulse, Fox, 2004.

Principal, "Crying over You: Parts 1 & 2," Degrassi: The Next Generation (also known as Degrassi: TNG, Degrassi: La prochaine generation, and Degrassi: La proxima generacion), CTV and The N, 2005.

Appeared in Musicians, Bravo; in "Alanis Morissette in the Navajo Nation," Music in High Places, MTV; as herself, On the Record with Bob Costas, HBO; in VH1 Guerilla Concerts, VH1; and in Reverb and Soundstage.

Film Appearances:

(Uncredited) Anything for Love (also known as Just One of the Girls), 1993.

Herself, Free Tibet (documentary), 1998.

God, Dogma, Lions Gate Films, 1999.

(Uncredited) Music company receptionist, Coyote Ugly, Buena Vista, 2000.

That woman (God), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Dimension Films, 2001.

Herself, Alanis Morissette: We're with the Band, IFILM, 2004.

Performer, De–lovely, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/United Artists, 2004.

Just Friends, New Line Cinema, 2005.

Performer of songs featured in films and television programs.

Film Executive Producer:

Alanis Morissette: We're with the Band, IFILM, 2004.

Stage Appearances:

The Vagina Monologues, Westside Theatre Downstairs, New York City, 2000.

Appeared as Sunny Jacobs in a production of The Exonerated.

Radio Appearances; Episodic:

The Howard Stern Radio Show, 2004.

RECORDINGS

Albums:

(As Alanis) Alanis, MCA Canada, 1987.

(As Alanis) Now Is the Time, MCA Canada, 1992.

Jagged Little Pill (includes "You Oughta Know"), Maverick Records, 1995.

Space Cakes (acoustic tracks), 1996.

Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, Maverick Records, 1998.

Alanis Unplugged (also known as MTV Unplugged), Warner Bros., 1999.

Star Profile, 1999.

Feast on Scraps, 2002.

Under Rug Swept, Maverick Records, 2002.

Down the Alley, 2004.

So–Called Chaos, 2004.

Singles:

"Fate Stay with Me," Lamor Records, 1987.

"Hand in My Pocket," 1995.

"You Oughta Know," 1995.

"Head over Feet," 1996.

"Ironic," 1996.

"You Learn," 1996.

"Thank U," 1998.

"So Pure," 1999.

"That I Would Be Good," 1999.

"Unsent," 1999.

"Hands Clean" (first version), 2002.

"Hands Clean" (second version), 2002.

"Precious Illusions," 2002.

"Eight Easy Steps," 2004.

"Everything," 2004.

"Ironic (Down the Alley)," 2004.

Other singles include "All I Really Want" and "Uninvited." Songs featured in films and television programs.

Albums; With Others:

1996 Grammy Nominees, 1996.

1997 Grammy Nominees, 1997.

Tibetan Freedom Concert, 1997.

Dave Matthews Band, Before These Crowded Streets, 1998.

City of Angels (soundtrack), Warner Bros., 1998.

No Boundaries, 1999.

SNL 25: Saturday Night Live the Musical, 1999.

Woodstock '99, 1999.

Strung Out on Jagged Little Pill, 2000.

MTV: 20 Years of Pop, 2001.

A Tribute to Alanis Morissette, 2001.

Voices of Hope: Sabera Foundation, 2002.

Powered by Fender: The Players, 2003.

De–lovely: Music from the Motion Picture (soundtrack), 2004.

Videos:

Alanis Morissette: Head over Feet, 1997.

Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill—Live, 1997.

Alanis Morissette: You Learn Live, 1997.

Alanis Morissette: Feast on Scraps, 2002.

Video Work:

Director, Alanis Morissette: Head over Feet, 1997.

Director, producer, and production designer, Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill—Live, 1997.

Director, Alanis Morissette: You Learn Live, 1997.

Director and producer, Alanis Morissette: Feast on Scraps, 2002.

Singles:

"Hand in My Pocket," 1995.

"You Oughta Know," 1995.

"Head over Feet," 1996.

"Ironic," 1996.

"You Learn," 1996.

"Joining You," 1998.

"Thank U," 1998.

"So Pure," 1999.

"That I Would Be Good," 1999.

"Unsent," 1999.

"Hands Clean" (first version), 2002.

"Hands Clean" (second version), 2002.

"Precious Illusions," 2002.

"Eight Easy Steps," 2004.

"Everything," 2004.

"Ironic (Down the Alley)," 2004.

Other singles include "All I Really Want" and "Uninvited." Songs featured in films and television programs.

Music Videos:

"Hand in My Pocket," 1995.

"You Oughta Know," 1995.

"Head over Feet," 1996.

"Ironic," 1996.

"You Learn," 1996.

"Thank U," 1998.

"So Pure," 1999.

"That I Would Be Good," 1999.

"Unsent," 1999.

"Hands Clean" (first version), 2002.

"Hands Clean" (second version), 2002.

"Precious Illusions," 2002.

"Everything," 2004.

Other music videos include "All I Really Want" and "Uninvited."

Music Video Director:

(With Michele Laurita) "Head over Feet," 1996.

"Joining You," 1998.

"So Pure," 1998.

"Unsent," 1998.

WRITINGS

Albums:

(As Alanis) Alanis, MCA Canada, 1987.

(As Alanis) Now Is the Time, MCA Canada, 1992.

Jagged Little Pill (includes "You Oughta Know"), Maverick Records, 1995.

Space Cakes (acoustic tracks), 1996.

Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, Maverick Records, 1998.

Alanis Unplugged (also known as MTV Unplugged), Warner Bros., 1999.

Feast on Scraps, 2002.

Under Rug Swept, Maverick Records, 2002.

So–Called Chaos, 2004.

Singles:

"Fate Stay with Me," Lamor Records, 1987.

"Hand in My Pocket," 1995.

"You Oughta Know," 1995.

"Head over Feet," 1996.

"Ironic," 1996.

"You Learn," 1996.

"Joining You," 1998.

"Thank U," 1998.

"So Pure," 1999.

"That I Would Be Good," 1999.

"Unsent," 1999.

"Hands Clean" (first version), 2002.

"Hands Clean" (second version), 2002.

"Precious Illusions," 2002.

"Eight Easy Steps," 2004.

"Everything," 2004.

"Ironic (Down the Alley)," 2004.

Other singles include "All I Really Want" and "Uninvited." Songs featured in films and television programs.

Videos:

Alanis Morissette: Head over Feet, 1997.

Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill—Live, 1997.

Alanis Morissette: You Learn Live, 1997.

Alanis Morissette: Feast on Scraps, 2002.

Nonfiction:

(Author of foreword) Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God for Teens, Scholastic, 2002.

Teleplays; With Others; Awards Presentations:

The 32nd Annual Juno Awards, 2003.

OTHER SOURCES

Books:

Cantin, Paul, Alanis Morissette: A Biography, St. Martin's Press, 1998.

Contemporary Musicians, Volume 39, Gale, 2004.

St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press, 2000.

Tomashoff, Craig, You Live, You Learn: The Alanis Morissette Story, Berkley Publishing Group, 1998.

Periodicals:

Billboard, May 13, 1995, p. 7; March 9, 1996, p. 1.

Canadian Musician, March, 2002.

Chicago Sun–Times, March 1, 1996, p. 14; March 4, 1996, p. 29.

Entertainment Weekly, April 3, 1998; November 6, 1998, pp. 26–34; May 28, 2004, p. 121.

Hollywood Reporter, May 6, 2002.

Interview, November, 1999, p. 102; November, 2002, pp. 89–90; May, 2004, pp. 118–21.

Maclean's, November 23, 1998; February 25, 2002, p. 50.

Newsweek, May 24, 2004, p. 69.

People Weekly, December 30, 1996, p. 86; June 14, 2004, p. 92.

Playboy, May, 1996, p. 141.

Q, February, 2002, pp. 82–85.

Rolling Stone, November 2, 1995, p. 40.

Time, February 26, 1996, p. 66; May 28, 2001, p. 95.

US Weekly, November, 1998, p. 28.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Morissette, Alanis 1974–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Morissette, Alanis 1974–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/morissette-alanis-1974

"Morissette, Alanis 1974–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/morissette-alanis-1974

Morissette, Alanis

Alanis Morissette

Pop singer

Debbie Gibson of Canada

Unimaginable Success

Selected discography

Sources

Alanis Morissettes 1995 release Jagged Little Pill sold over ten million copies and won her four Grammy Awards. Its slew of hit singles, kicked off with the vituperative You Oughta Know, made Morissette an alternative music star overnight. Yet the singer-songwriter also endured some flak for her success, especially after word leaked out that she had suffered a rather unsuccessful earlier incarnation as a big-haired, drum-machine-backed teen singer in Canada. Nevertheless, the candid songs of Jagged Little Pill, penned by Morissette as she matured out of her teens, spoke to a broad cross-section of adolescents and adults alike.

Morissette was born June 1, 1974, in Ottawa, Ontario, one of a set of twins born to Alan and Georgia Morissette. Alanis and he twin Wade joined older brother Chad, and for a time the family lived in Europe when the elder Morissettesboth teacherstook jobs at a military base school. As a young teen in Ottawa again, Morissette attended Catholic schools and was straight-A student. A self-described overachiever, she began piano at age of six and wrote her first song at age nine, and her talents eventually landed her on television. Her biggest success came with a recurring role on You Cant Do That on Television, a kids show on the Nickelodeon cable channel in the mid-1980s.

Debbie Gibson of Canada

With the earnings from the television show, Morissette produced her first single on her own label, Lamor Records. The 1987 release, Fate Stay with Me, was recorded with the musical expertise from former members of the Stampeders, Canadian rockers who had a 1971 hit with Sweet City Woman. As a single written by a thirteen-year-old, Fate Stay with Me was no monster hit but did attract the attention of MCA Canada, who signed Morissette. Her first full-length record, Alanis, debuted in 1991, followed by Now Is the Time a year later.

But it was not yet Morissettes time at all. Her career enjoyed some minor successes, but she remained pigeonholed; MCA even had her touring with the always-maligned Vanilla Ice. She did get a chance to hone her songwriting skills over two albums, however, and later, after her major success with Jagged Little Pill, refused to be embarrassed by a persona whom unkind journalists compared with Debbie Gibson or Tiffany. I wasnt writing to communicate anything, and I was definitely not ready on the self-esteem level to indulge myself and all my personal turmoil, she told J. D. Considine of the Chicago Sun- Times.

For the Record

Born Alanis Nadine Morissette, June 1, 1974, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; daughter of Alan (a high school principal) and Georgia (a teacher) Morissette.

Worked as a child actor, mid-1980s; released first single, Fate Stay with Me, on Lamor Records, 1987; signed with MCA Canada; released first full-length LP, Alanis, in 1991; signed with Maverick Records, 1994; released Jagged Little Pill, 1995.

Awards: Juno Award, Most Promising Female Artist, 1992, for Alanis; Jagged Little Pill earned Grammy Awards in 1996 for Album of the Year, Best Rock Album, Best Rock Song (for You Oughta Know), and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance (for You Oughta Know).

Addresses: Publicist MSO, 14724 Ventura Blvd., Suite 410, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403.

Jagged Little Pill would bare some of the personal dramas that engulfed Morissette in typical coming-of-age passages, but she has spoken about certain moments in her late teens as definite turning points. In one incident, she had a breakdown in front of her parents partly as a result of the pressures she felt as a combination teen star/overachiever/perfect daughter. Discovering the1991 Tori Amos LP Little Earthquakes helped inspire Morissette to begin writing from the heart. Coincidentally, Amos had also suffered an off-target launch as an alterna-pop performer under the moniker Y Kant Tori Read, and later succeeded by writing straightforward, deeply personal songs.

Morissette came to see the necessity of leaving Canada for the more inspiring climes of Los Angeles. Like Axl Rose stepping off the bus in the video for Welcome to the Jungle, she underwent the usual big-city trials during her first weeks. She was held up at gunpoint. She was broke. Shetried to find someone to work with, but no one seemed to click. Finally she approached Glen Ballard, an unlikely hero. Ballard was a producer with a home studio who had crafted tunes for Wilson Phillips and Paula Abdul. But he didnt try to mold her into something salable: I felt that he wasnt judging me, and I felt that he had enough security within himself to give the ball to a 20-year-old and let her go with it, she told J. D. Considine of the Chicago Sun-Times. Within a period of two weeks, they recorded most of what would become Jagged Little Pill, and shopped their demo tape around. Executives at Maverick Records heard it and signed Morissette in 1994. Their ultimate boss, however, is none other than Madonna, who became CEO of the subsidiary as part of her lavish contract with Warner Brothers. Morissette was just twenty.

Unimaginable Success

Jagged Little Pill, released in the spring of 1995, displayed a drastic change from Morissettes former recording efforts. The sound is more muscular; her voice is rawer, the guitar work more aggressive, wrote Christopher John Farley in Time, and while the words are rarely as smart as they seem to think they are, this is straight-ahead rock, sweetened somewhat with pop melodiousness. Its initial single, You Oughta Know, was a catchy diatribe against a former lover. Later, rumors surfaced that Morissette may have been writing about someone specific she had dated, such as television comic Dave Coulier, but the singer has said that it was merely a composite of several doomed relationships.

Success made Morissette an easy target for criticism, however, once her new American fanswho had never heard of herdiscovered her previous incarnation via snipey rock critics. There were rumors that Maverick was surreptitiously buying up all unsold copies of the early-90s releases, and worse, that Ballard had done much of the work for Jagged Little Pill. Yet Morissette refused to evade her former teeny bopper persona, and debunked the tales of Mavericks attempts to hide it. Instead, she told Jon Beam of the Minneapolis-St Paul Star Tribune that her early brush with fame helped her keep a level head when the real fame came knocking. Her experiences, she asserted, made me not become a heroin addict and become completely overwhelmed with how crazy this life is that Im leading right now.

Morissettes newly out-of-control life included extensive touring in support of Jagged Little Pill throughout much of 1995 and 1996. In early 1996 the record won four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, and Jagged Little Pill would eventually sell a staggering ten million copies. Nor surprisinglygiven the fervor of her fan baseMorissette has described singing on stage as similar to a religious experience: When Im onstage, its very spiritual. I feel very close to God when Im up there, she told Rolling Stones David Wild. Another journalist likened Morissettes stage showto kind of like waiting for someone to have a breakdown, wrote Jae-Ha Kim in the Chicago Sun-Times. Flailing her arms and moving about in a pigeon-toed stance, she appears most comfortable when her face is covered by her mane of hair.

Still, fame did have its pressures. She began avoiding interviews with members of the Canadian media, granting access only to American journalists. Fans eagerly awaited a follow-up to Jagged Little Pill, but, after finishing a heavy year of touring in 1996, Morissette was reportedly staying close to home, and eschewing all interviews and appearances. It seems unlikely, however, that the outspoken Morissette would retire permanently from public life, and a return to acting was one possibility. I love doing things that scare me, she told Beam in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune. interview. It makes me feel alive and challenged. It makes me feel like Im growing. That comfort-zone area, I hate it.

Selected discography

Fate Stay with Me, Lamor, 1987.

Alanis, MCA Canada, 1991.

Now Is the Time, MCA Canada, 1992.

Jagged Little Pill, Maverick, 1995.

Sources

Billboard, May 13, 1995, p. 7; March 9, 1996, p. 1.

Chicago Sun-Times, Marchi, 1996, p. 14; March 4, 1996, p. 29.

Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, March 11, 1996, p. 10B.

People, December 30, 1996, p. 86.

Rolling Stone, November 2, 1995, p. 40.

San Diego Union-Tribune, March 6, 1996, p. E6.

Time, February 26, 1996, p. 66.

Carol Brennan

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Morissette, Alanis." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Morissette, Alanis." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/morissette-alanis

"Morissette, Alanis." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/morissette-alanis

Morissette, Alanis

ALANIS MORISSETTE

Born: Ottawa, Ontario, 1 June 1974

Genre: Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Jagged Little Pill (1995)

Hit songs since 1990: "You Oughta Know," "Hand in My Pocket," "Ironic"


Alanis Morissette parlayed some serious anger toward an ex-boyfriend into superstardom, emerging as one of the leading female singer/songwriters of the late 1990s.


Child Star

Born in Ottawa, Morissette took to music from an early age, learning to play the piano at the age of six and writing her first song at the age of nine. In 1985, she joined the cast of Nickelodeon's You Can't Do That on Television, a sketch comedy show. After two years, Morissette left the show to pursue a musical career.

Morissette signed a recording deal with MCA Records at the age of sixteen and released her debut album Alanis in 1991. Alanis, along with the follow-up album Now Is the Time (1992), cast Morissette in the vein of female pop singers such as Debbie Gibson, Belinda Carlisle, and Tiffany, offering up bubbly, disposable pop numbers for mainstream audiences. Both albums were hits in Canada, and Morissette earned the Most Promising Female Artist at Canada's Juno Awards; the young singer, however, failed to garner much attention outside her homeland.

Looking to jumpstart her career, Morissette moved to Los Angeles in 1994. While there, she met producer Glen Ballard, whose previous collaborators included Michael Jackson, Paula Abdul, and the band Wilson Phillips. Morissette and Ballard soon after began writing songs together. Though both hailed from the pop world, their new songs were darker and edgier than what dominated the airwaves, particularly from female singer/songwriters of the day. In 1995 Morissette released Jagged Little Pill, the culmination of her writing and recording sessions with Ballard.

A Musical Sensation

The lead single from Jagged Little Pill, "You Oughta Know," quickly established Morissette as a household name in the United States. An angry, propulsive rhythm (courtesy of Red Hot Chili Peppers bass player Flea and guitarist Dave Navarro) sets the stage for Morissette's seething rant against a former boyfriend who betrayed her: "And every time you speak her name / Does she know how you told me you'd hold me / Until you died, till you died?" The raw emotion of "You Oughta Know" fueled speculation as to the identity of the song's antagonist, and Internet sites devoted to solving the mystery quickly sprang forth. MTV further sparked interest in Morissette by elevating the fresh-faced singer, with her spidery long hair and steely gaze, to visual icon status.

Morissette struck gold as well with the follow-up singles "Hand in My Pocket" and "Ironic." On the former, hypnotic drum machines, ambient guitars, and a warbling harmonica frame Morissette's lyrical exploration of her own contradictions: "I feel drunk, but I'm sober / I'm young, and I'm underpaid." Morissette lost some of her artistic credibility with the latter single, an acoustic number that reached a feverish intensity on the memorably wailed chorus; critics (and English teachers) mocked the singer for her skewed understanding of irony, citing lyrics such as: "A traffic jam when you're already late / A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break."

Despite her detractors, Morissette became a revelation to mainstream radio, which had not yet heard a female singer/songwriter with such a raw, alternative sound. Jagged Little Pill was a huge success, selling 30 million records worldwide. Morissette also eventually won over many of her critics, scoring Grammy Awards for Album of the Year (Jagged Little Pill ) and Song of the Year ("You Oughta Know").

The highly anticipated follow-up album Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (1998) confirmed that Morissette was not a musical flash-in-the-pan. The work was less angry and more spiritually reflective than its predecessor, in large part due to Morissette's pilgrimage to India prior to the recording of the album. The lead single "Thank U," a haunting midtempo ballad, shows Morissette at peace with herself and her relations. Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie debuted at number one on the album charts and ultimately sold more than 7 million copies.

Morissette took a short break from her musical career to pursue her interest in cinema. She appeared in two films by director Kevin Smith: Dogma (1999) and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001). In Dogma, Morissette had a memorable cameo as a female God; she reprised the role for the latter film.

Spot Light: "You Oughta Know"

The song "You Oughta Know" catapulted Alanis Morissette to stardom, but, despite public clamoring for details on the song's inspiration, Morissette has never revealed the identity of its subject. In an interview with the Toronto Sun shortly after the release of the single, Morissette fueled speculation that the song was indeed about a particular person and not a lyrical abstraction: "I haven't heard from him, and I don't think he knows. Which sort of says a lot about him. The ironic thing is, if anybody questions whether it's them I'm writing about, that means something in and of itself. People who were kind and honest and full of integrity throughout the process of making this album wouldn't question whether they were in that song because they would know." Most public speculation centered on Morissette's ex-beau Dave Coulier, star of the hit television series Full House. Morissette and Coulier met at the 1992 National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star game in Montreal, where Morissette performed the national anthem, and the pair dated for more than a year. Other sleuths cited Friends star Matt LeBlanc, former Morissette songwriting partner Leslie Howe, NHL player Mike Peluso, and Coulier's Full House co-star Bob Sagetall of whom Morissette dated at one time or another. Morissette may indeed never reveal the subject of "You Oughta Know." As the singer/songwriter herself said: "I'm not going to deny or say yes to that, because I think it is wrong. I sort of laugh at it. . . . The truth is, I am never going to tell who it was about."

In 2002 Morissette released her third album, Under Rug Swept. The singer once again found herself in the middle of a public debate as a result of her highly personal lyrics. In the deceptively bright-sounding lead single "Hands Clean," Morissette revisits a teenage relationship with an older man: "Ooh this could be messy / But you don't seem to mind." Though shocked by Morissette's forthright discussion of statutory rape, the public nevertheless bought Under Rug Swept in droves; the album, like its predecessors, became a multimillion seller.

With her captivatingly honest lyrics, Morissette held the attention of music audiences worldwide throughout the late 1990s and established herself as a commercially successful female artist.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Jagged Little Pill (Maverick/Reprise, 1995); Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (Maverick/Reprise, 1998); Alanis Unplugged (Maverick, 1999); Under Rug Swept (Maverick, 2002).

SELECTIVE FILMOGRAPHY:

Dogma (1999); Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001).

scott tribble

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Morissette, Alanis." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Morissette, Alanis." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/morissette-alanis

"Morissette, Alanis." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/morissette-alanis