Alanis Morissette has this unique kind of voice that either pulls you to ecstasy-like heights or threatens to pierce your eardrums and your sanity. For people like my roommate, every one of her songs is considered her magnum opus. For people like me, the Alanis fascination began and ended with Jagged Little Pill.
Yes, she had something like three albums before it and six after it (if you count JLP Acoustic and MTV Unplugged), but for me, it’s the only one of her CDs that can be listened to from beginning to end without any wincing on my part. So, when compiling a top ten list of Alanis songs, it’s only expected that five of my picks are from that aforementioned album. I only came to know the remaining four songs by my roommate’s persistent coercion – that is, being subjected to them on a daily basis through my bedroom wall and in her car.
Now, when JLP first came out, I wanted to categorize Alanis with many of the other angry-at-anything-male female singers and leave it at that. Before I even bought the CD, “Ironic” was at the top of the charts and everyone thought they had her number. But, when you actually sit down and listen to her songs, her lyrics have depth and, amazingly, emotions beyond anger. And really, who could sing such sarcastic and in-your-face lyrics except Alanis in her self-assured, couldn’t-care-less-about-you voice?
So, despite my original misgivings, I really do like Alanis, it’s just that with each new album her lyrics take on a more stream of consciousness form that has me straining to catch everything she’s saying at top speed while the beat of the song runs off by itself, making it so hard to even feel her music, let alone like it. In a sense, she just became too wordy
The following ten songs are those I consider to have the most staying power, and no, “Ironic” is not on the list. First is “Spineless” from So-Called Chaos. I love it because, in it, Alanis vows to make herself subservient to her lover and to do everything he says while keeping her opinions to herself. It’s pretty funny for anyone who knows Alanis Morissette and realizes she is more likely to do the opposite, if anything.
Second is “Uninvited”. Though never officially released as a single, it rode the radio waves at a fast and steady pace.
Third is “Thank U” from her 1998 album Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. In this song Alanis thanks things that she’s seen or experiences for giving her new perspectives on her life. I think the song is about how you gain new views and understandings by experiencing different things and how you should appreciate these as chances to learn about yourself and the path you are taking.
My fourth pick is “Narcissus” from her album Under Rug Swept. I think this song deserves attention for its amazing lyrical quality. It’s just a very beautiful song to listen to.
From the same album, I’ve picked “Precious Illusions” as my fifth choice for top ten Alanis Morissette songs. It’s my favorite Alanis song from this CD. In it, she describes various self-destructive illusions she has about life. As with so many of her songs, it is so easy to relate to what she is singing about.
My last five choices are from the infamous JLP album, as mentioned before. Sixth is “You Learn”. Though not amazingly deep, it has a catchy tune and sticks in your head real easy. It has a similar train of thought as “Thank U,” basically urging the audience to explore life and learn from those experiences.
Then there is “Perfect”. It’s a good song for anyone who feels like their parents push them to succeed, whether or not they are enjoying themselves along the way.
Eighth is the well known hit single “All I Really Want”. I think the main appeal of Alanis is her straightforward honesty and her ability to get you singing along to lyrics you feel are expressing your own thoughts and experinces.
Nine is “You Oughta Know,” because it’s one of those songs you want to scream along with every time the chorus plays. It’s such an angry song and appeals to anyone who feels vengeful towards an ex lover.
And the tenth best Alanis Morissette song is “Head Over Feet”. After all the cynicism and in-your-face truth, she still believes in love. It’s kind of profound to think that she has gone through everything that prompted the other songs she wrote and yet she is still able to hold out for love.
After looking through all her songs, and listening to a few I have yet to be subjected to, I realize that there are a few others that appeal to me. But, if you want to get a good idea of what Alanis Morissette’s music is about, you would probably do best to start with these songs.