A barefoot white-skined woman is sitting on a big chair with armrests. She rests her right foot on the left armrest, while she crosses her left leg in front of her body. The background is white, and the words "Alanis", "Morissette" and "Ironic" are written in red letters at the upper right corner.
Single by Alanis Morissette
from the album Jagged Little Pill
Released February 27, 1996 (North America)
8 April 1996 (Europe)
Format CD single, maxi single, cassette
Genre Pop rock
Length 3:44
Label Maverick
Writer(s) Alanis Morissette, Glen Ballard
Producer Glen Ballard
Template:Extra album cover 2Template:Extra chronologyTemplate:Extra chronologyTemplate:Audiosample

"Ironic" is a song written by Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard, and produced by Ballard, for Morissette's third album Jagged Little Pill (1995). It was released as the album's fourth single in 1996. The song received a Grammy Award nomination for Record of the Year in 1997.[1]

Writing and composition[edit | edit source]

"Ironic" was written by Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard, and produced by the latter.[2] In an interview with Christopher Walsh of Billboard, Ballard explained how he and Morissette met, and how "Ironic" was wrote. He commented "I'm telling you, within 15 minutes we were at it—just writing. 'Ironic' was the third song we wrote. Oh God, we were just having fun. I thought 'I don't know what this is—what genre it is—who knows? It's just good'".[3] According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, it is a pop rock song,[4] set in the time signature of common time, composed in a moderate tempo of eighty-two beats per minute.[5] It is set in the key of B major and it starts with the sequence of Emaj7–F♯6–Emaj7–F♯6, as its chord progression, but then it turns to F♯–A♯–Badd2–F♯–A♯–G♯m7.[5]

Linguistic usage disputes[edit | edit source]

The song's usage of the word "ironic" attracted attention for what some think is an improper application of the term.[6][7][8] Two situations that Morissette describes in the song are arguably examples of cosmic irony: events that, as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it, appear "as if in mockery of the fitness or rightness of things", such as "a death row pardon/two minutes too late".

The lexical item "Ironic" is referred to its semantic meaning; "expressing irony" (Quirk, 1987, p. 558) and "irony" defined as: 1: use of words which are clearly opposite to one's meaning to be amusing or to show annoyance. 2: a course of events or a condition which has the opposite result from what is expected (Quirk, 1987, p. 558). The title also provides the best directions for the reader as to how the text should be read by acting as a constraint on potential interpretations or schemata instantiation. Morissette has also confirmed that she is a self-dubbed "malapropism queen" and alleges that the song was lighthearted and not taken too seriously at the time it was written:[9]

For me the great debate on whether what I was saying in 'Ironic' was ironic wasn't a traumatic debate. I'd always embraced the fact that every once in a while I'd be the malapropism queen. And when Glen and I were writing it, we definitely were not doggedly making sure that everything was technically ironic. It's a testament to the fact that we didn't think it was going to be put under the microscope by 30 million people. For me the sweetest moment came in New York when a woman came up to me in a record store and said, 'So all those things in the "Ironic" aren't ironic.' And then she said, 'And that's the irony.' I said, 'Yup.' To me it's a real snapshot of a nineteen-year-old's definition and version of how life worked at the time. All that 'Ironic' touches on spawned all my future inquiries into and current understandings of the mysteries of life.

It is worth noting that both lines of the chorus, Isn't it ironic / Don't you think?, are ironic in the strictest literary sense.

Irish comedian Ed Byrne has performed a skit in which he jokingly attacks the song for its lack of ironies: "The only ironic thing about that song is it's called 'Ironic' and it's written by a woman who doesn't know what irony is. That's quite ironic." Byrne then tries to give the song 'the benefit of the doubt' by coming up with scenarios where the various unfortunate incidents, mentioned in the song, actually would represent irony.[10] Popular satirists Berger and Wyse also parodied the song in their cartoon strip The Pitchers. In an episode where superhero Irony Man (a pun on Iron Man) likens his superpowers to lyrics from Morissette's song, causing his cohorts to rename him "The Man from Alanis" (a pun on The Man from Atlantis).[11]

In December 2009 the comedy website College Humor released a spoof video of the song amending the lyrics so they would be appropriately ironic.[12]

Reception[edit | edit source]

Critical response[edit | edit source]

Jaime Gill from Dot Music commented on the original version of "Ironic", on his review of Jagged Little Pill Acoustic, that "[Jagged Little Pill] ... gave us pop's greatest parlour game ... [it] has always been a pretty and catchy song". But he later criticized the lyrics, calling them "idiots", and giving a positive review to the acoustic version saying: "it actually sounds more relaxed and engaging without the hoary loud guitars of the original".[13] Even though Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic marked the track as one highlight of the album,[14] in a separate review, from the same website, the CD single release was rated with two-and-a-half out of five stars.[4] Jon Pareles of The New York Times noted that in verses of "Ironic", and another song from the album ["Mary Jane"], "it's easy to envision Morissette on the stage of a club, singing wry couplets backed by acoustic guitar".[15] Dave Brecheisen of PopMatters wrote that in the acoustic version of "Ironic", Morissette "surprising made [it] worse".[16] The single was nominated in 1997 at the 39th Grammy Awards, in the category of Record of the Year.[17][18]

Chart performance[edit | edit source]

"Ironic" debuted on the Canadian RPM Singles Chart at number ninety-five on the issue dated January 8, 1996.[19] Twelve weeks later the track topped the chart, on April 1, 1996,[20] staying there for six weeks,[21] being replaced by "Closer to Free" by American band BoDeans.[22] Spending twenty-nine weeks within the top 100, it was last seen on July 22, 1996, at number eighty-one.[23] On other RPM charts, the single topped the Alternative 30 Chart and reached the number six on the Adult Contemporary Chart.[24][25] The track debuted at number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the highest debut of the issue ending March 16, 1996.[26] The single eventually reached its peak position, at number four, on April 13, 1996.[27] "Ironic" is currently Morissette highest-charting hit on the Hot 100 chart.[28] In other US charts, the single became her second number-one hit on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks,[29] where it stayed for three weeks.[26][30][31] The song topped the Mainstream Top 40, reached the number five on the Adult Top 40 and twenty-eight of the Adult Contemporary chart.[32] In Australia, the song debuted at number forty on their singles chart.[33] On its eighth week, it peaked at number three on May 12, 1996, where it stayed for two weeks. It was last seen on the chart on July 21, 1996, at number thirty-seven. To date, "Ironic" is her biggest hit on the country.[33]

In European countries the song was well-received. In the United Kingdom "Ironic" debuted and peaked at number eleven, on April 20, 1996. It left the chart eight weeks later, at number sixty-seven.[34] At the Norwegian Singles Charts, it debuted at number eighteen, soaring to number seventeen the next week. It rose to number five on its third week, and later peaked at number four, staying there for five weeks. It later dropped one place, and remained there for another two weeks. "Ironic" kept within the chart for seventeen weeks.[35] In Belgium, it reached the sixth place on the Ultratop 50 (Flanders region), and the ninth place on the Ultratop 40 (Wallonia zone).[36][37]

Other versions[edit | edit source]

The pop-punk band Four Year Strong covered the song in their 90's cover album "Explains It All."

In 2004 Morissette amended a lyric as a show of her support for same-sex marriage:[38]

"It's meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful husband"

She first sang the line at the fifteenth annual GLAAD Media Awards in March 2004.[39] She recorded an acoustic version of the song with the amended lyric for an exclusive iTunes Music Store release. Another acoustic version was recorded for the album Jagged Little Pill Acoustic (2005), and another for the Cities 97 Sampler Volume 16 (2004). The song was also performed in a duo with Avril Lavigne, at the House of Blues, in 2005.[40]

Music video[edit | edit source]

The single's video was released in January 1996 and received heavy rotation on MTV and VH1 in the US. It was directed by Stéphane Sednaoui and features Morissette driving a dark blue 1977 Lincoln Mark V through a winter landscape. She also plays her passengers: one in a green sweater riding in the back seat; one in a yellow sweater with braided hair, also in the back seat; and one in a red sweater in the front passenger seat. At the end of the video, the car stalls and Morissette, as the driver, exits but her passengers are nowhere to be seen. The video was nominated for six MTV Video Music Awards in 1996 and it won three: "Best Female Video", "Best New Artist", and "Best Editing". It was nominated in 1997 for Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video.

In late 1996 a parody version of the video was released featuring a young girl, Allison Rheaume, who mimics Morissette's actions and wardrobe while lip syncing to the original song. At the end, a man (presumably her father) notices her in the car sitting in the driveway and tells her to stop fooling around. This version of the video, directed by David Rheaume,[41] received mild airplay as a novelty on VH1 and was, for a time, the only video for "Ironic" available for viewing in Yahoo!'s LAUNCHcast music video library. It was included on the Morissette CD/DVD The Collection (2005). Also, "Weird Al" Yankovic produced a parody version of the video, for Canada's MuchMusic, in which he takes the place of the fourth version of Morissette in the front passenger seat.

In the 1996 novel Naive. Super by Norwegian author Erlend Loe, the protagonist watches the video for "Ironic" on television and dreams about "meeting an Alanis-girl and living in a house together with her."

Track listing[edit | edit source]

CD single, cassete[4][2]
  1. "Ironic" – 3:49
  2. "You Oughta Know" (Acoustic/Live from the Grammy Awards) – 3:48
  3. "Mary Jane" [Live] – 5:52
  4. "All I Really Want" [Live] – 5:22
Special-edition maxi-single[42][43]
  1. "Ironic" [Album Version] – 3:48
  2. "Forgiven" [Live] – 6:09
  3. "Not the Doctor" [Live] – 6:05
  4. "Wake Up" [Live] – 5:05

Personnel[edit | edit source]

  • David Moncrieffe – assistant engineer
  • Renato Petruzziello – engineer
  • Katia Popov – strings
  • Karie Prescott – strings
  • Michele Richards – strings
  • Jesse Tobias - acoustic guitar


Charts[edit | edit source]

Weekly charts[edit | edit source]

Chart (1996) Peak
Australian Singles Chart[33] 3
Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders)[36] 6
Belgian Singles Chart (Wallonia)[37] 9
Canadian RPM Top Singles[20] 1
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary[25] 6
Canadian RPM Alternative 30[24] 1
Dutch Top 40[44] 6
French Singles Chart[45] 16
German Singles Chart[46] 8
New Zealand Singles Chart[47] 3
Norwegian Singles Chart[35] 4
Swedish Singles Chart[48] 24
Swiss Singles Chart[49] 9
UK Singles Chart[34] 11
US Billboard Hot 100[32] 4
US Adult Contemporary[32] 28
US Adult Top 40[32] 5
US Mainstream Top 40 (Pop Songs)[32] 1
US Modern Rock Tracks[32] 1

Year-end charts[edit | edit source]

Chart (1996) Position
Australian Singles Chart[50] 25
Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders)[51] 31
Belgian Singles Chart (Wallonia)[52] 45
Canadian RPM Top Singles[53] 2
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary[54] 37
Canadian RPM Alternative Chart[55] 5
Dutch Top 40[56] 39
Swiss Singles Chart[57] 51
US Billboard Hot 100[58] 13

Certifications[edit | edit source]

Region (provider) Certifications
United States (RIAA) Gold[59]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. http://www.rockonthenet.com/archive/1997/grammys.htm
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Morissette, Alanis (1996). Album notes for Ironic (Liner Notes) by Alanis Morissette [Compact Disc]. California, United States: Maverick Records (9362-43700-2 4).
  3. Walsh, Christopher (June 30, 2001). "Boutique Distributors Make Noise Under The Radar". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 113 (26): 38. ISSN 00062510. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Ironic - Alanis Morissette". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. http://www.allmusic.com/album/r247617. Retrieved November 30, 2010. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ironic – Alanis Morissette Digital Sheet Music (Digital Download), MusicNotes.com. Alfred Publishing Co. Inc 
  6. It Is Ironic, Isn't It?
  7. Irony and Ignorance
  8. "Morissette Single Reaches New Levels of Meta-Irony", Heuristic Squelch humour article, November 2002
  9. MSOPR
  10. Ed Byrne slates Alanis Morissette at YouTube
  11. The Pitchers: Superscript and Typo, The Guardian film supplement, May 2, 2008
  12. College Humour spoof of the song and video
  13. Gill, Jaime (August 2, 2005). "Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill Acoustic". Yahoo! Music UK. Yahoo! Inc. http://uk.launch.yahoo.com/050803/33/1y9vj.html. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  14. "Jagged Little Pill - Alanis Morissette". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. http://www.allmusic.com/album/jagged-little-pill-r218199/review. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  15. Pareles, Jon (August 13, 1995). "Recordings View; A U.S. Debut, but She's No Debutante". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. http://www.nytimes.com/1995/08/13/arts/recordings-view-a-us-debut-but-she-s-no-debutante.html?pagewanted=2. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  16. Brecheisen, Dave (August 30, 2005). "Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill Acoustic". PopMatters. http://popmatters.com/music/reviews/m/morissettealanis-jagged2005.shtml. Retrieved December 3, 2010. 
  17. Walsh, Christopher (June 30, 2001). "Boutique Distributors Make Noise Under The Radar". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 113 (26): 40. ISSN 00062510. 
  18. Germain, Georges-Hébert (1998). Celine: The Authorized Biography of Celine Dion (I ed.). Toronto, Canada: Dundurn Press Ldt. p. 403. ISBN 1550023187. OCLC 41527907. 
  19. "Top Singles - Volume 62, No. 21, January 08 1996". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. January 8, 1996. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-119.01-e.php?&file_num=nlc008388.2851&type=1&interval=20&PHPSESSID=4dp17sl7hp9qmhhj3vmcenr836. Retrieved November 30, 2010. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Top Singles - Volume 63, No. 7, April 01 1996". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. April 1, 1996. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-119.01-e.php?&file_num=nlc008388.2933&type=2&interval=20&PHPSESSID=4dp17sl7hp9qmhhj3vmcenr836. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  21. "Top Singles - Volume 63, No. 13, May 13 1996". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. May 13, 1996. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-119.01-e.php?&file_num=nlc008388.2969&type=1&interval=20&PHPSESSID=4dp17sl7hp9qmhhj3vmcenr836. Retrieved November 30, 2010. 
  22. "Top Singles - Volume 63, No. 23, July 22 1996". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. July 22, 1996. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-119.01-e.php?&file_num=nlc008388.3041&type=1&interval=20&PHPSESSID=4dp17sl7hp9qmhhj3vmcenr836. Retrieved November 30, 2010. 
  23. 24.0 24.1 "Rock/Alternative - Volume 63, No. 5 March 18 1996". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. March 18, 1996. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-119.01-e.php?&file_num=nlc008388.2920&type=1&interval=20&PHPSESSID=4dp17sl7hp9qmhhj3vmcenr836. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  24. 25.0 25.1 "Adult Contemporary - Volume 63, No. 13, May 13 1996". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. May 13, 1996. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-119.01-e.php?&file_num=nlc008388.2964&type=1&interval=20&PHPSESSID=4dp17sl7hp9qmhhj3vmcenr836. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  25. 26.0 26.1 "Billboard: The International, Newsweekly of Music, Video and Home Entertainment". Billboard (Nielsen Company) 108 (11): 110. March 16, 1996. ISSN 00062510. 
  26. "Billboard: The International, Newsweekly of Music, Video and Home Entertainment". Billboard (Nielsen Company) 108 (15): 100. April 13, 1996. ISSN 00062510. 
  27. "Alanis Morissette Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Nielsen Company. http://www.billboard.com/#/artist/alanis-morissette/chart-history/121494. Retrieved December 7, 2010. 
  28. "Alanis Morissette Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Nielsen Company. http://www.billboard.com/#/artist/alanis-morissette/chart-history/121494?f=377&g=Singles. Retrieved December 8, 2010. 
  29. "Alternative Songs". Billboard. Nielsen Company. March 23, 1996. http://www.billboard.com/#/charts/alternative-songs?chartDate=1996-03-23. Retrieved December 8, 2010. 
  30. "Alternative Songs". Billboard. Nielsen Company. March 30, 1996. http://www.billboard.com/#/charts/alternative-songs?chartDate=1996-03-30. Retrieved December 8, 2010. 
  31. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 32.4 32.5 "Ironic – Alanis Morissette". Billboard. Nielsen Company. http://www.billboard.com/#/song/alanis-morissette/ironic/1816454. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  32. 33.0 33.1 33.2 "Alanis Morissette – Ironic (Song)". Hung Medien. http://australian-charts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Alanis+Morissette&titel=Ironic&cat=s. Retrieved November 26, 2010. 
  33. 34.0 34.1 "Chart Stats – Alanis Morissette – Ironic". Chart Stats. The Official Charts Company. http://www.chartstats.com/songinfo.php?id=24021. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  34. 35.0 35.1 "Alanis Morissette – Ironic (Song)". Hung Medien. http://norwegiancharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Alanis+Morissette&titel=Ironic&cat=s. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  35. 36.0 36.1 "Alanis Morissette – Ironic (Nummer)" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. http://www.ultratop.be/nl/showitem.asp?interpret=Alanis+Morissette&titel=Ironic&cat=s. Retrieved November 26, 2010. 
  36. 37.0 37.1 "Alanis Morissette – Ironic (Chanson)" (in French). Ultratop. Hung Medien. http://www.ultratop.be/nl/showitem.asp?interpret=Alanis+Morissette&titel=Ironic&cat=s. Retrieved November 26, 2010. 
  37. Vineyard, Jennifer. "Alanis Isn't Angry Anymore — She's In Love". MTV News. June 4, 2004. Retrieved August 23, 2006.
  38. Keck, William. "Politics in play at gay awards". USA Today. March 28, 2004. Retrieved August 23, 2006.
  39. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ilaTP9oGWs&feature=related
  40. "Alanis Morissette [Imitator] - Ironic". MuchMusic. http://watch.muchmusic.com/artists-a-z/a/alanis-morissette--imitator/clip82798. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  41. "Ironic - Alanis Morissette". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. http://www.allmusic.com/album/r247617. Retrieved November 30, 2010. 
  42. Morissette, Alanis (1996). Album notes for Ironic (Liner Notes) by Alanis Morissette [Maxi Single]. California, United States: Maverick Records (9362 43700-2).
  43. "Alanis Morissette – Ironic (Nummer)" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. http://dutchcharts.nl/showitem.asp?interpret=Alanis+Morissette&titel=Ironic&cat=s. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  44. "Alanis Morissette – Ironic (Chanson)" (in French). Hung Medien. http://lescharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Alanis+Morissette&titel=Ironic&cat=s. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  45. "Cnartverfurlong > Morissette, Alanis > Singles" (in German). Musicline.de. Media Control Charts. http://www.musicline.de/de/chartverfolgung_summary/title/Morissette%2CAlanis/Ironic/single. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  46. "Alanis Morissette – Ironic (Song)". Hung Medien. http://charts.org.nz/showitem.asp?interpret=Alanis+Morissette&titel=Ironic&cat=s. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  47. "Alanis Morissette – Ironic (Song)". Hung Medien. http://swedishcharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Alanis+Morissette&titel=Ironic&cat=s. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  48. "Alanis Morissette – Ironic (Song)" (in German). Hung Medien. http://hitparade.ch/showitem.asp?interpret=Alanis+Morissette&titel=Ironic&cat=s. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  49. "ARIA Charts – End Of Year Charts – Top 100 Singles 1996". Australian Recording Industry Association. http://www.aria.com.au/pages/aria-charts-end-of-year-charts-top-50-singles-1996.htm. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  50. "Ultratop Belgian Charts" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. http://www.ultratop.be/nl/annual.asp?year=1996. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  51. "Ultratop Belgian Charts" (in French). Ultratop. Hung Medien. http://www.ultratop.be/fr/annual.asp?year=1996. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  52. "Top Singles - Volume 64, No. 18, December 16 1996". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. December 16, 1996. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-119.01-e.php?&file_num=nlc008388.9730&type=1&interval=20&PHPSESSID=4dp17sl7hp9qmhhj3vmcenr836. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  53. "Adult Contemporary - Volume 64, No. 18, December 16 1996". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. December 16, 1996. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-119.01-e.php?&file_num=nlc008388.9742&type=1&interval=20&PHPSESSID=4dp17sl7hp9qmhhj3vmcenr836. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  54. "Rock/Alternative - Volume 64, No. 18, December 16 1996". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. December 16, 1996. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-119.01-e.php?&file_num=nlc008388.9740&type=1&interval=20&PHPSESSID=4dp17sl7hp9qmhhj3vmcenr836. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  55. "Dutch Top Year End". MegaCharts. http://www.top40web.nl/jaarlijsten/jr1996.html. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  56. "Swiss Year-End Charts 1996". Hung Medien. http://swisscharts.com/year.asp?key=1996. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  57. "Billboard Top 100 - 1996". The Long Bored Surfer. http://longboredsurfer.com/charts.php?year=1996. Retrieved August 27, 2010. 
  58. "RIAA certifications – Alanis Morissette". Recording Industry Association of America. http://www.riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php?resultpage=1&table=SEARCH_RESULTS&action=&title=&artist=Alanis%20Morissette&format=&debutLP=&category=&sex=&releaseDate=&requestNo=&type=&level=&label=&company=&certificationDate=&awardDescription=&catalogNo=&aSex=&rec_id=&charField=&gold=&platinum=&multiPlat=&level2=&certDate=&album=&id=&after=&before=&startMonth=1&endMonth=1&startYear=1958&endYear=2008&sort=Artist&perPage=25. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 

External links[edit | edit source]



es:Ironic fr:Ironic it:Ironic ja:アイロニック he:Ironic pt:Ironic simple:Ironic (song) sv:Ironic

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