Alanis Morissette Got Her ‘Butt Kicked’ Over One of Her Biggest Hits

Alanis Morissette was a trendsetter among female singer-songwriters. The honesty of her music paved the way for everyone from Pink to Taylor Swift to Alessia Cara. However, Morissette admits she’s faced a lot of criticism for the lyrics to one of her biggest hits. Interestingly, Morissette admitted she didn’t want to release that song in the first place.

Alanis Morissette with a rose
Alanis Morissette | Eric Robert/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images

The Alanis Morissette hit became controversial because of its name

In 2020, it’s pretty easy to put Morissette on a pedestal. Her hit album Jagged Little Pill has become one of the most acclaimed of all 1990s albums. Furthermore, a political musical with the same name has brought Morissette’s music back to the spotlight, reaffirming her icon status.

Morissette is an acclaimed songwriter. However, the lyrics of one of her songs has faced criticism. Specifically, she’s noted that her song “Ironic” has been a punching bag for critics. Why? Because of its title.


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The song describes a number of situations Morissette calls ironic. These include a rainy wedding, refusing to take good advice, and falling in love with a married man. According to the book Sounds Good on Paper: How to Bring Business Language to Life, none of these situations are ironic – they are simply unfortunate. Morissette has opened up about writing the song with producer Glen Ballard and how concerned they were about proper semantics.

What Alanis Morissette was thinking when she wrote ‘Ironic’

“For me the great debate on whether what I was saying in ‘Ironic’ was ironic wasn’t a traumatic debate,” Morissette said. “I’d always embraced the fact that every once in a while I’d [make mistakes with my words]. And when Glen and I were writing it, we definitely were not doggedly making sure that everything was technically ironic.”

Alanis Morissette in a car
Alanis Morissette | Ebet Roberts/Redferns

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Interestingly, the song’s title can be interpreted as fitting — in an unexpected way. A song that is supposedly about irony contains no ironic lyrics. Because of that, the song could be seen as a paradox. More than anything, the song remains a great example of how the concept of irony is difficult to grasp for many people. Surprisingly, Morissette actually had some reservations about the track. 

Why the song almost wasn’t part of ‘Jagged Little Pill’

“There’s a lot of for a song that has no ironies in them,” Morissette told Today. “I didn’t really think that song should go on the record. That was met with much resistance I said, ‘OK let’s put it on the record … [Then] that wound up being the song that I had my butt kicked for 25 years, don’t worry about it.”

Alanis Morissette with a guitar
Alanis Morissette | Mark Davis/Getty Images

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“Ironic” has gotten lots of criticism over the years and Morissette is aware of it. Regardless, the English teachers of the world will have to make peace with the fact that the most famous song about irony contains no irony.