For the lyrics see You Oughta Know (lyrics)
"You Oughta Know"
You Oughta Know single.jpg
Single by Alanis Morissette
from the album Jagged Little Pill
Released July 7, 1995
Format CD single, cassette single, 12" single
Recorded 1994
Genre Post-grunge
Length 4:09
Label Maverick
Writer(s) Alanis Morissette, Glen Ballard
Producer Glen Ballard
Alanis Morissette singles chronology

<span />

"(Change Is) Never a Waste of Time"
"You Oughta Know"
"Hand in My Pocket"

"You Oughta Know" is a song written by Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard, and produced by Ballard for Morissette's third album Jagged Little Pill (1995).


The song reached number one on Billboard magazine's Modern Rock Tracks chart in the U.S. and charted at number four in Australia and number twenty-two in the United Kingdom. Launching Morissette's career, and the album, Jagged Little Pill, to the top, the coarse language and piercing vocals were a jolt to mainstream pop music. "You Oughta Know" was not eligible for the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1995 because a retail single was not released, but it reached number thirteen on the Hot 100 Airplay chart and the top ten on the Top 40 Mainstream chart. A live version of the song, recorded at the 1996 Grammy Awards ceremony on February 28, was a B-side on the retail single for "You Learn", and Billboard credited the single's Hot 100 number-six peak position to "You Learn"/"You Oughta Know".

Red Hot Chili Peppers band members Flea and Dave Navarro performed bass and guitar, respectively, on the song. In 2010, Navarro reflected upon the recording, stating that: "Flea and I did that song together in the studio. It was already written with different instrumentation and we were asked to kind of re-write the music; a lot like a re-mix. The structure of the song was in place but there were no guide tracks, we just had the vocal to work from. It was just a good time and we basically jammed until we found something we were both happy with. Alanis was happy too."[1]

Unusually, the CD and cassette releases of Jagged Little Pill feature two different versions of this song. The single version appears as track two, whilst The Jimmy the Saint Blend version, featuring more prominent bass, is between the end of the listed tracks and the hidden track "Your House". Although it does not have a long pause before it, as is usual with hidden tracks, the fact that it is not listed on the sleeve means it is sometimes considered as such.

Matt Laug played drums on the 1995 release of "You Oughta Know". Morissette has "re-imagined" the song numerous times, most recently on her 2005 album Jagged Little Pill Acoustic, which featured mellowed vocals and chord progressions; the lyrics, however, were not softened.

It won two Grammy Awards, Best Rock Song and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. Also was nominated for Song of the Year, losing to "Kiss from a Rose" by Seal, at the Grammy Awards of 1996.

The song is a playable track in the 2008 music/rhythm video game Rock Band 2, developed by Harmonix.

"You Oughta Know" was ranked #12 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90's in December 2007.

Alternative versionEdit

On some versions of Jagged Little Pill, "You Oughta Know (The Jimmy The Saint Blend)" is included as a hidden track.

Track listingEdit

  1. "You Oughta Know" (The Jimmy the Saint clean version)
  2. "You Oughta Know" (The Jimmy the Saint Blend)
  3. "Perfect" (acoustic version)

Music videoEdit

The music video was directed by Nick Egan and features a seductively lit Morissette hitchhiking across a desert.


According to an ABC News web article, "Alanis Morissette revealed that her angst-ridden hit 'You Oughta Know' was about her relationship with Dave Coulier".[2] The Urban Legends Reference Pages has this rumor as "undecided."[3]

There are many other celebrities who have been rumored to be the lover in the song, including:

On his 1996 album Bad Hair Day, "Weird Al" Yankovic included a few verses from the song in his polka medley "The Alternative Polka." Later, on an Al TV special, Yankovic joked that he and Morissette "used to date. I especially liked it when we went to the movies," a reference to the song's lyric about the singer performing oral sex on someone in a theater.

In 1997 the Boston Herald reported that Coulier "admitted the lines are very close to home. Especially the one about 'an older version of me' and bugging him in 'the middle of dinner.' He said she used to do that all the time."[3]

The topic of the song is discussed in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Morissette told star Larry David whom the song is about (then David to a disappointed friend), but the audience never hears who Morissette said the song was about. In one of the Jay and Silent Bob promos created for MTV, Jay told Silent Bob that he was the boyfriend that inspired the song. Jay told the story of the break-up, and after he finished Silent Bob wiped a tear from his eye while Jay laughed at him confessing to have been lying the whole time. Later, Morissette would appear as God in the 1999 film Dogma and again in 2001's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

In an August 2008 interview to the Calgary Sun, Coulier admitted to being the ex-boyfriend portrayed in the song. According to him, he heard the song on the radio and noticed the singer seemed to be really angry. Upon discovering it was Alanis, he realized he had "really hurt" her and called her to patch things up.[4]

In October 2008 Morissette reiterated her refusal to identify the subject, commenting to a CanWest News Service journalist, "Well, I've never talked about who my songs were about and I won't, because when I write them they're written for the sake of personal expression. So with all due respect to whoever may see themselves in my songs, and it happens all the time, I never really comment on it because I write these songs for myself, not other people."[5]

The entire mystery surrounding the song has brought some minor comparisons to Carly Simon's 1972 song "You're So Vain," in which Carly sings about a mysterious boyfriend.

Version Heard on American IdolEdit

In the season 9 finale of Fox Television's American Idol (aired on May 26, 2010), Alanis Morissette sang a duet of "You Oughta Know" with finalist Crystal Bowersox. Bowersox sang the line about oral sex (originally "Will she go down on you in a theater") but re-written, presumably to make it "family friendly," as "Will she go down with you to the theater."[6]


Peak positionsEdit

Chart (1995) Peak
Australian ARIA Singles Chart 4
Canadian Singles Chart 20
UK Singles Chart[7] 24
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Airplay 13
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[8][9] 1
U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks[8][9] 3
U.S. Billboard Top 40 Mainstream[9] 7
Chart (1996) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[8]1 6

End of year chartsEdit

End of year chart (1996) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[10]1 29

1 "You Learn"/"You Oughta Know"



Preceded by
"Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" by U2
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks number-one single
July 22, 1995 – August 19, 1995
Succeeded by
"J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva)" by Green Day