Jun 052009

I’m fascinated by Alanis Morissette – and my fascination grows as the years pass and I continue to stumble across her latest televised performances. The people in the audience are either paid extras or people who are beginning to think of the ’90s as the best years of their lives, but who, beside me – ironically – is tuning into a live performance by Alanis Morissette these days? Just the other night I saw her on Palladia, a high-def, all-concert performance channel that’s part of the MTV/VH1 family.

I don’t know the vintage of this performance that I caught, but it must have been from the last couple of years. She had a different hairdo than I’ve been used to seeing, something almost like the shag worn by Carol Brady. It was kind of cute. She’s kind of cute in the way some woman in everyday life, maybe working down the hallway, is kind of cute. Some of you are bound to find fault with her prominent jawline or the lengths she goes to in strategically covering what seems to be a decent but probably flawed body, but have you ever taken a good look at yourself in the mirror?


  28 Responses to “Alanis Morissette, Are You Kidding Me?”

  1. BigSteve

    I always thought her music was kind of nondescript too, but I always gave her credit for surviving an insane level of success and celebrity with some kind of equanimity. So she’s got this placid presence that worked really well in the movie Dogma.

    Jagged Little Pill sold 28 million copies (!), but it’s like she knows she’s not all that. It’s a very Canadian kind of modesty.

  2. Mr. Moderator

    Yes, BigSteve, you’ve hit on another endearing aspect of her. I haven’t seen Dogma (can’t stand the little bit I’d previously seen by that director guy). I forgot she had an acting credit beyond her teen years, when she was in some kind of Canadian Mickey Mouse Club, right? I’m looking forward to Northvancoveman’s take on his countrywoman.

  3. Lest any of you Townspeople out there are thinking of a coup, of storming the Town Hall and deposing Mr. Moderator, let it be known that this is what it takes to rule Rock Town Hall, watching 20 minutes of Alanis Morrisette to prepare a thread!

  4. That’s 19 minutes and 59 seconds more than I’d be willing to watch of Alanis! Mr. Mod has surprising strength and willpower!

  5. saturnismine

    Check out 2:09 – 2:20 in that last vid (the line “in a sky full of people”).

    Here, she dips below her usual fingernails-on-a-blackboard levels of annoyance into a sad, she’s-lost-her-mojo awkwardness.

  6. diskojoe

    First off, sorry for not commenting for a bit, as I was preoccupied w/work & family issues. I have been lurking & I did enjoy the Big Star/Memphis thread, especially since I think that Memphis is the Secret Music Capital of the U.S. I wish I could have contributed to it.

    Anyway, great post, Mr. Mod. I don’t think I have ever heard anything by Ms. Morrisette. I’ve seen CDs of hers @ the library, but as you know, time’s too short & is better spent listening to the Who Sell Out & Barrence Whitfield.

    While you spent 20 min. watching Ms. Morrisette last night, I spent 68 min. watching the live performances portion of Elvis Costello’s The Right Spectacle, which had its own issues of Mr. MacManus’ Look, including a performance on The Tube where he was wearing a sweater which was just one step from what Ed Wood used to wear.

    Finally, did you know that Catherine O’Hara’s sister is Mary Margaret O’Hara, the singer who Andy Partridge was going to produce, but who rejected him so he used the studio time to put together the Dukes of Stratosphere? I actually picked up her album Miss America after MOJO was raving about it, but it didn’t do anything for me so I dumped it.

  7. dbuskirk

    Her stage stalking seems like a thrash metal frontman on ‘ludes….

  8. Alanis Morrisette is magic. That is her secret. I agree wwith all the points you make above. I found her kind of annoying when she was on the radio. However, I worked a concert of hers at the Electric Factory about 12 years ago. I had to climb up to the ceiling and point a follow-spot at her for the whole show. I was mesmerized. I didn’t like the music at the show, and I didn’t find her to be that attractive really, but I left that show saying to myself, “she’s the most wonderful performer I’ve ever witnessed.” Like i was hypnotized or something. It was truly bizarre. I can not account for it.
    She was on Curb Your Enthusiasm playing herself. It was mildly funny, but not because of anything she did. Larry David is funny.
    That’s all.

  9. hrrundivbakshi

    I swear she’s like a Vegas recreation of herself in a 90s revival show. And that “band” — antiseptic!

  10. 2000 Man

    What’s Morrissette’s horrible secret,

    That song about what goes on in the “theetah” is about Dave Coulier.

    That just makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and then sit back down. That just ups the creep factor tenfold for me and I can’t take it.

  11. Mr. Moderator

    I did not know that, 2K. Thanks a lot…

  12. alexmagic

    Canadian Mickey Mouse Club? The RTH Age Gap is showing again. She was on You Can’t Do That On Television, Canada’s greatest child-run sketch comedy show set entirely in a geodesic dome.

  13. Matt Mahaffey (Self) and his version of “Ironic”:


    I am fond of that Mary Margaret O’Hara record, but definitely an acquired taste, and really annoying if you’re not in the mood for it. I believe the phrase Andy Partridge used to describe her was, “a few cupcakes short of a picnic”.

  14. BigSteve

    Who the hell is Dave Coulier? Backstory alert!

  15. “What’s Morrissette’s horrible secret,”

    My take is that she is smart enough to know exactly what her rock crimes are (short version: she’s a slightly edgier version of Meredith Brooks) and she is decent enough that her conscience will not let her forget it. Most folks who are similarly situated either start believing that they really are “artists” (rather than cultural opportunists), or they simply don’t care as long as the paychecks keep coming.

    I first heard You Oughta Know on a college radio station in Lansing, Michigan, and I remember thinking, “This is an incredibly contrived song. It sounds like the product of extensive test marketing and trend surveys. Thank God , I’ll never have to hear this again.” I acknowledge that I’m out of touch regarding what sells because I’m also the same guy who still doesn’t understand why Glad Girls by Guided By Voices wasn’t a massive hit. But I suspect that Ms Morresette knows the difference and is plagued with guilt. Or at least I hope she is.

  16. Mr. Moderator

    I had to look up who Coulier was, BigSteve – generation gap issue. It turns out he was the “other guy” on Full House, which I think was the ’80s teen show that launched the career of Beach Boys drummer John Stamos. In his prime, Coulier sported an especially bad blonde mullet.

  17. saturnismine

    well said, cdm.

    the first time i heard ‘oughta know’ i was working at a sign shop (where the toxic fumes made us insane) and had my headphones on. i thought the same thing (“contrived…product of demographic research: cranberries-esque yodeling gymnastics + cobain self-tortured / mentally unstable soul bearing edginess + watered down feminism = ka-ching” etc..).

    and the whole idea of crafting a pop persona around mental instability and sociopathic behavior was really irksome to me, because it didn’t seem genuine, and i had friends who were really suffering from genuine mental instability.

    i always found most amusing the part at the end of the chorus of “oughta know” where she says “you you you you” (but she turns it into a two syllable word by yodeling it, and it sounds like she’s saying “get up get up get up get up”, which, of course, makes no sense at all).

    over the years, after hearing her do that same yodeling type maneuver in almost every song, i realized that it was probably written into the feature part of “oughta know’ for no other reason than to to give her a chance to show off her voice’s gymnastic capacities: levels of contrivance i had never imagined.

  18. The phase “cranberries-esque yodeling gymnastics” just now almost caused me to snarf part of my enchilada.

  19. Also, Ladies, when trying to take potshots at an ex’s new girlfriend in an angry breakup song, here a few zingers that really don’t quite as much sting that you may think:

    “Does she speak eloquently
    And would she have your baby
    I’m sure she’d make a really excellent mother”

  20. jeangray


    Dave Coulier???????? I think I may be sick…

  21. saturnismine

    warning: do not try to duplicate the yodeling gymnastics of the cranberries or alanis morissette while eating enchiladas. snarfing may result.

  22. cdm, I’m so glad to hear someone else say that about “Glad Girls.” Hell, my mixed feeling about it aside, I honestly thought “Hold On Hope” was going to be that year’s “Wonderwall.” I have had to admit as I age that I no longer am well-tuned at all to what will/won’t be a hit.

    Post-script: “Glad Girls” was featured in an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” a month or two ago, and instantly the nets lit up with “What was that SONG?”
    Maybe if Bob & Co. weren’t old and drunk, the kids might’ve gone for it.

    “We’re drunk, we’re old, we’re fat, we’re stupid… but we’re kind of cute.” – Bob Pollard, from the King’s Ransom bootleg.

  23. Morrissette was actually pretty good on Nip/Tuck as Liz’s control freak lesbian lover Poppy.

  24. 2000 Man


  25. I was not sure exactly what I don’t like about her…now I know

    (“contrived…product of demographic research: cranberries-esque yodeling gymnastics + cobain self-tortured / mentally unstable soul bearing edginess + watered down feminism = ka-ching” etc..).

  26. Alanis Morrisette, hmmm. To me she just seemed like one of those people that was extremely success driven and was going to get there no matter what.

    I remember being surprised by “jagged little pill” because Alanis was all over MuchMusic (b/c of CanCon regulations, no doubt) as a sort of Tiffany/Debbie Gibson type.

    NAME DROP ALERT: The first time I hear her new stuff was when Carl (now known as AC) Newman was making fun of the line about “one hand in my pocket” at a party. The it sold 40 billion copies and then Carl’s band sold 20 billion copies of theirs. Both surprises

  27. Hey Hey black girls!
    I only wanna get you high!

  28. I never had much use for her until I saw her. Now I still don’t listen for my own enjoyment, but I get the appeal. Her awkwardness on stage is pretty captivating, because it’s not one of those scrupulously choreographed shows with a scrupulously choreographed “awkward” moment; it really IS awkward.

    i always found most amusing the part at the end of the chorus of “oughta know” where she says “you you you you” (but she turns it into a two syllable word by yodeling it

    Yeah, she inspired at least one generation of female singers to discover that if you can’t actually hit the note on which you’re singing the word “you,” you can turn it into “yaow” and you’ll still sell records.

    We don’t pay a lot of attention to her, but her influence is actually enormous.

    And yeah, I’m still trying to find the exact pithy phrase to describe the active yet completely character-free stage “presence” of her band.

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