If you ask me, Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, which turns 25 on Saturday, has a case as the best album of the 90s. It is an uninterrupted string of absolute slappers. There is not a single skip track, and of the twelve songs on the album, you could make a compelling case for at least eight of nine of them as her best song ever. It is the rare coalescence of an artist’s near entire anthology of top bangers burned onto one small piece of polycarbonate plastic.
Owning a copy of Jagged Little Pill is like owning a time machine that, by some bizarre design fault, can only transport you to your angstiest moments of the late 90s and early 00s. In a way, the album captures the experience of learning for the first time that things can be unfair, that people can hurt you, that life can suck. The songs depict the broad range of instinctive, almost mechanical ways we respond to this realization, be they anger, frustration, apathy, amusement, forgiveness, or optimism. It strikes me as the type of album that means something different to everyone who listens to it. To me, it brings me back to having frivolous fights with my older siblings in our basement. That an eminently talented and seemingly pretty pissed off 21-year-old (!!!!) Canadian girl wrote an album that resonated with everyone from middle-aged divorcees to whiny youngest children only beginning to learn about the world speaks to how well it really does capture the human condition.
Like any cultural set piece that so eloquently captures a long-lost zeitgeist, it also offers no shortage of retrospective comedic relief. Knowing that the line “would she go down on you in a theater” was directed toward the guy who played Uncle Joey in Full House is something close to euphoria. The line “I’m young but I’m underpaid” is a close scrutiny of Clintonomics that was at least 20 years ahead of its time. And, of course, it is nothing short of hilarious that Alanis gaslit an entire generation into misunderstanding the definition of “ironic.”
I highly recommend giving this album a relisten this week. If absolutely nothing else, you can get out of this hellshit of a timeline and instead spend 50 minutes in your emotionally overwrought memories of the 1990s.