Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Alanis Morissette

As a teenager, my brother called me a male Alanis Morissette, supposing it was an insult, because of the way that I would write poetry that was as emotionally bare as Alanis’ music has been throughout much of her career.  I considered it a compliment then and still do today, as there remains something that is quirky and worthwhile about Alanis’ music and especially her lyrics and framing throughout the course of a productive career.  If Alanis’ popular success was most noticeable in the time between 1995 and 2002, where she released three studio and one live album that demonstrated her combination of raw passion, deep melancholy reflection, and a savvy ability to understand her life and make sense of it, she remains a worthwhile and even essential artist today, and her work certainly lives on even if she is nowhere near as popular now as she once was during those heady days of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s when she sold many millions of records, won Grammys, and the like.  And though Alanis’ commercial prospects have varied widely from her beginnings to the present day, she has always maintained a sense of gracious humor and self-effacement about such matters, whether she patiently tries to perform only to find her daughter causing problems in the present day, or by making a maudlin piano ballad version of the Black Eyed Peas’ “My Humps” that sends up her own melodramatic past.  She has the songs, has the sense of humor, and has the cultural relevance to remain a powerful act long after her new albums stop selling lots of copies.

The Influence Of Alanis Morissette

The cultural influence of Alanis Morisette can be felt in many surprising ways.  In 2013 I had a job that required me to do a lot of driving, and during one of those days in the car a local radio station in the Portland area was interviewing comedian Dave Coulier, and part of the gag was determining the year from the playing of “You Oughta Know,” which Coulier believes (reasonably) was written about him, as the radio host was trying to put Coulier on the wrong foot by bringing up that relationship [1].  Similarly, not only has Alanis’ music been seen as being representative of the mid-90’s and the explosion of popularity for rougher female adult alternative acts into the pop mainstream, but she has also enriched the English language through her coinage of the term “friend with benefits,” a lyric that comes from her song “Head Over Feet,” one of the more optimistic songs from Jagged Little Pill.  As an actress, as a cultural figure, as someone who has been honest about her struggles with eating disorders and postpartum depression as well as with her focus on mental health in general throughout her career, Alanis Morissette has not only made popular music but has also provided material for the cultural conversation about the material of her personal life and the way it has resonated with others.

Why Alanis Morissette Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

Although Alanis’ musical career began in the early 1990’s with a couple of modestly popular teen-pop albums that were mainly popular in Canada, she entered mainstream popularity in the United States with her powerful third studio album Jagged Little Pill, which has sold more than 30 million copies around the world [2], making it among the most popular albums ever made.  Her singles from that album, including “You Oughta Know,” “Ironic,” “You Learn,” “Hand In My Pocket,” and “Head Over Feet,” were smash hits that not only charted well but also influenced the cultural conversation on what it meant to be a friend with benefits (see above) and what irony meant.  Alanis followed up the smash success of her debut with a successful Unplugged album as well as two further studio albums in 1998 (the triple platinum Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie) and 2002 (Under Rub Swept) that went at least platinum, spawning hits like “Uninvited” from the City of Angels soundtrack, Thank U, Unsent, and Hands Clean [3], a top 40 hit that appears to be pointing back to the dubious legality of her relationship with Coulier.  And while the album sales and hit singles dried up after that, she still has continued to release well-regarded music to the present day with albums in 2004 (a nearly-gold selling “So-Called Chaos” with the well-regarded “Everything” and “Eight Easy Steps”), 2008’s Flavors of Entanglement (with its “In Praise of the Vulnerable Man”), 2012’s Havoc And Bright Lights, and 2020’s Such Pretty Forks In The Road.  Alanis doesn’t need any more hits to have secured a place in music history for emotionally vulnerable songs that spoke to the core of what she was feeling and that resonated with a wider general public that continues to appreciate those songs.

Why Alanis Morissette Isn’t In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

By and large female singer-songwriters during the 1990’s have had a tough time being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and like Amy Grant, Sarah McLachlan, Jewel, and others with hits and massively popular albums, Alanis just hasn’t been given her due yet.  Hopefully she will.

Verdict: Put her in, maybe as part of a larger set of female acts that deserve induction.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/06/04/you-oughta-know/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alanis_Morissette_discography

[3] https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/03/31/no-one-is-to-blame/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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