It’s been just over two decades since the release of Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette’s angsty landmark LP, but the album is still breaking records. Last week, the Grammy-winning album surpassed 15 million in U.S. album sales as it returned to the Billboard charts for the first time in over a year. The album is just the third to reach the sales milestone, according to Billboard, joining Metallica’s self-titled album (16.1 million) and Shania Twain’s Come On Over (15.6 million).
Morissette’s breakthrough record certainly wasn’t expected to be a smash hit when it was released through Madonna’s Maverick Records on June 13, 1995. While her 1991 debut record did relatively well in Canada, her 1992 follow-up was a commercial flop.
After finishing her two-album contract with MCA Records Canada in 1993, Morissette was an unsigned 18 year-old singer living with her parents at a crossroads. With assistance from her manager Scott Welch, she decided to move to Toronto, where she eventually linked up with record producer Glen Ballard, who had previously worked with Michael Jackson. With Ballard serving as producer and co-writer, Jagged Little Pill was born.
“There was a timelessness to what I was expressing, which, of course, I had no idea about at the time,” Morissette recently told Elle looking back on the seminal album. “When I wrote it I was in a bit of a vacuum — so I thought that I was going through whatever it was that I was going through alone — and then when people connected with it, I realized that I was being given this opportunity to support and empathize with people.”
Diving deep into the then 21-year old’s emotions, Jagged Little Pill hits universal themes of frustration, love, depression, and redemption. While dealing with difficult topics, the record’s poppy, singalong anthems made it a commercial hit. The two biggest singles, Ironic (which actually isn’t), and You Oughta Know (which is allegedly about her ex-boyfriend, Full House‘s Dave Coulier) help define the record, but it’s musically strong throughout.
And considering that the aforementioned singles have a combined 46 million streams on Spotify, it looks like the album’s legacy isn’t letting up any time soon. Now a 41 year-old mother, Morissette isn’t letting up either. The artist is currently working on her ninth studio album, as well as a Broadway adaptation of the album that changed her life.
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