Top 10 Alanis Morissette Song Lyrics

Her Wit and Wisdom

Alanis Morissette
Alanis Morissette. Photo by Sonia Recchia / Getty Images

Alanis Morisette's best songs contain memorable and distinctive words. She burst into the pop mainstream in 1995 with the searing anger of the song "You Oughta Know." She soon became a spokesperson for women of her generation with the wit and wisdom contained in her lyrics. She matched her talent for performance with eloquent songwriting skills. 

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"You Oughta Know" (1995)

Alanis Morissette You Oughta Know
Alanis Morissette - "You Oughta Know". Courtesy Maverick

Few debut pop singles have ever had the visceral impact of the bile Alanis Morissette unleashed in "You Oughta Know" against a former lover. Before the release of this single, Alanis Morissette recorded bubblegum pop as a teen artist. To the surprise of Alanis Morissette's label, the song became a major hit. It topped the alternative chart for five weeks and reached the top 10 at mainstream pop radio and on the Billboard Hot 100. Alanis Morissette held the record for the most consecutive weeks at the top of the alternative chart by a female artist until Lorde broke the record 18 years later with "Royals."

Alanis Morissette didn't identify a real-life individual who is the target of "You Oughta Know." It became a much-talked-about pop music mystery much like the identity of the man in Carly Simon's legendary "You're So Vain." Former boyfriend Dave Coulier, star of the TV show Full House, said many of the lines hit very close to home.

"And every time you speak her name
Does she know how you told me
You'd hold me until you died
Till you died, but you're still alive"

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"Hand In My Pocket" (1995)

Alanis Morissette Hand In My Pocket
Alanis Morissette - "Hand In My Pocket". Courtesy Maverick

This hit from Jagged Little Pill demonstrates Alanis Morissette's own unique perspective on staying relaxed and focused in a maddening world. It was the second single from her debut album Jagged Little Pill and helped the album hit #1 and ultimately sell over 15 million copies in the US alone. "Hand In My Pocket" became Alanis Morisette's second #1 hit on the alternative chart and peaked at #4 on mainstream pop radio. It also broke into the top 40 on both adult contemporary and adult pop radio.

Mark Kohr directed the accompanying music video. He shot the clip in black and white showing Alanis Morissette driving a car in a homecoming parade. The footage of the parade is in slow motion.

"What it all comes down to my friends
Is that everything's just fine fine fine
I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is hailing a taxicab"

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"All I Really Want" (1995)

Alanis Morissette All I Really Want
Alanis Morissette - "All I Really Want". Courtesy Maverick

"All I Really Want" was one of the first songs written for Alanis Morissette's breakthrough album Jagged Litle Pill. It was first titled "The Bottom Line" and co-written with producer Glen Ballard. It was the first song they wrote together and helped demonstrate the chemistry in the pairing. The lyrics are filled with self-deprecation and just barely mask a sense of bitterness. "All I Really Want" peaked at #15 on the alternative chart and is frequently featured as the opening song at Alanis Morissette concerts.

"Do I stress you out?
My sweater is on backwards and inside out
And you say how appropriate
I don't want to dissect everything today
I don't mean to pick you apart you see
But I can't help it
There I go jumping before the gunshot has gone off"


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"Ironic" (1996)

Alanis Morissette Ironic
Alanis Morissette - "Ironic". Courtesy Maverick

"Ironic" was the third official single from Jagged Little Pill. Co-writer and producer Glen Ballard says "Ironic" was the third song he wrote with Alanis Morissette and it was rolling within 15 minutes. "Ironic" broke into the top 5 across the Billboard Hot 100, alternative, adult pop, and mainstream pop radio. It earned a Grammy Award nomination for Record of the Year. At home in Canada, it won the Juno Award for Single of the Year.

Stephane Sednaoui, a French director who worked with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Madonna, and U2, directed the accompanying music video. It earned six MTV Video Music Award nominations including Video of the Year. It won the award for Best New Artist. "Ironic" also earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Short Form Music Video.

Despite discussions of whether multiple scenarios presented in "Ironic" are truly examples of the literary term irony, it remains one of the most clever of Alanis Morissette's lyrical creations. She made fun of her own grammatical mistakes when she appeared with the comedy trio The Lonely Island on ​Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2013. She cut off their song "Semicolon" to explain that their use of hashtag rap to show the function of a semicolon is incorrect. They responded that her critique of their grammar is ironic. The words below spell out one of the scenarios in the song.

"Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
'Well isn't this nice...'"

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"You Learn" (1996)

Alanis Morissette You Learn
Alanis Morissette - "You Learn". Courtesy Maverick

This song from the album Jagged Little Pill successfully points out that after every adverse life event, significant learning is possible. The soul-baring emotional lyrics of the songs on Jagged Little Pill have their roots in Alanis Morissette's series of panic attacks after being robbed on the street in Los Angeles by a man with a gun. She stated that producer Glen Ballard was the first collaborator who encouraged her to fully express her emotions in her songs. "You Learn" peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and hit #1 on mainstream pop radio. It also reached the top 10 at both alternative and adult pop radio.

"You grieve you learn, you choke you learn
You laugh you learn, you choose you learn
You pray you learn, you ask you learn
You live you learn"

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"Head Over Feet" (1996)

Alanis Morissette Head Over Feet
Alanis Morissette - "Head Over Feet". Courtesy Maverick

Alanis Morissette gets positively romantic here, an unusual twist of mood for the music on her debut album Jagged Little Pill. Critics praised the song for its mature look at a positive relationship. In the song, the couple are both best friends and lovers. "Head Over Feet" became Alanis Morissette's first song to peak at #1 on adult pop radio. It also went to #1 on mainstream pop radio.

Alanis Morissette co-directed the accompanying music video with Michelle Launita. It is a very simple clip focusing on a close-up of the singer.

"You are the bearer of unconditional things
You held your breath and the door for me
Thanks for your patience"

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"Uninvited" (1998)

Alanis Morissette Uninvited
Alanis Morissette - "Uninvited". Courtesy Maverick

"Uninvited" appeared on the soundtrack of the film City of Angels. It was Alanis Morissette's first release of new material after selling 15 million copies of her debut album Jagged Little Pill. Notable for a haunting sound and moody lyrics, "Uninvited" was nominated for three Grammy Awards including Best Rock Song. Alanis Morissette wrote the song on her own, and the record was co-produced by Rob Cavallo, best-known for his work with Green Day. "Uninvited" appeared as a single nine months before the album Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. "Uninvited" hit #1 at mainstream pop radio and #3 at adult pop radio.

"Like anyone would be
I am flattered by your fascination with me
Like any hot blooded woman
I have simply wanted an object to crave"

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"Thank U" (1998)

Alanis Morissette Thank U
Alanis Morissette - "Thank U". Courtesy Maverick

"Thank U" was written in response to a trip Alanis Morissette took to India. She said the trip was one of the first times she ever really took time off. She was grateful for the opportunity. The song "Thank U" is filled with verbal expressions of the gratitude. It was the first single from the album Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. The song earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal. "Thank U" went to #1 at adult pop radio and #2 at mainstream pop radio. 

Alanis Morissette worked with director Stephane Sednaoui again on the "Thank U" music video. It shows the singer being hugged by strangers in a wide variety of public places. She is naked in the clip with her long hair covering breasts and her pubic area blurred.

"How about me not blaming you for everything
How about me enjoying the moment for once
How about how good it feels to finally forgive you
How about grieving it all one at a time"

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"Hands Clean" (2002)

Alanis Morissette Hands Clean
Alanis Morissette - "Hands Clean". Courtesy Maverick

This lead single from the album Under Rug Swept is a depiction of a love affair between an underage Alanis Morissette and a record company executive. In the liner notes to the album she says, "It's definitely not with the intention of seeking any sort of revenge for the person who is at the heart of the song that I'm singing about, but it was in my silencing myself to protect somebody else that I was ultimately completely abandoning myself." "Hands Clean" was a hit at adult pop radio peaking at #3 but only reached #23 on the Billboard Hot 100. 

"Just make sure you don't tell on me especially to members of your family
We best keep this to ourselves and not tell any members of our inner posse
I wish I could tell the world cuz you're such a pretty thing when you're done up properly
I might want to marry you one day if you watch that weight and keep your firm body"

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"Underneath" (2008)

Alanis Morissette Underneath
Alanis Morissette - "Underneath". Courtesy Maverick

"Underneath" was the lead single for the album Flavors of Entanglement. The song reflects the need to change oneself before attempting to change the rest of the world. She co-wrote the song with producer Guy Sigsworth, known for his work with Seal and Bjork among others. "Underneath" peaked at #27 at adult pop radio and broke into the dance chart.

"Look at us form our cliques in our sandbox
Look at us being cruel kids with both our hearts blocked
Look at us turn away from all the rough spots
Look at dictatorship on my own block"

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