“Ironic” by Alanis Morissette

Alanis Morissette started out as one of the vilest teenybopper acts of her era, but with her Jagged Little Pill album she became the prototype for the more artistic and ambitious generation of Pop stars that would begin to proliferate a decade or so later. However dated Morissette’s work seems today, acts like Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson and Pink all owe a great deal to her innovations. And the truth is, her other two singles from that album, the searing “You Oughta Know” and the flippantly jubilant “Hand In My Pocket”, have aged better than most people give them credit for. However, it’s hard to offer a convincing defense for this overexposed misfire, which has gained a not-really-undeserved reputation as a hallmark of Pop music’s cultural illiteracy. The central complaint about this song…that she misuses the word ‘ironic’ so severely that not a single one of her examples constitutes actual irony…has been reiterated so many times that it’s become a cliche, but there’s a reason for that—it’s such a pervasive flaw that it really ruins the song. If she had selected a different title, this might have been a touching song about the way life makes a mockery of our expectations, but frankly, the writing is so clumsy and heavy-handed throughout that it might not have mattered. Morissette was genuinely good at the overwrought relationship songs she specialized in, but she clearly wasn’t up to this kind of ambitious philosophical contemplation in her songwriting, and she really should have stuck to what she knew and left this kind of thing to the Tori Amoses of the world.

Verdict: Bad.

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