Ironic Alanis Morissette - The Song Has No Irony

The song "Ironic" was published in 1995 and was the third track released from Jagged Little Pill, the award winning album by Alanis Morissette that was released in the same year. Ironic quickly grew cult status and became a standard joke because of the supposedly "ironic" situations described in the song, not actually being ironic. In this context, we believe it's fair to say that Ms Morissette misuses and abuses irony in the most vicious and terrifying way.

"Ironic" was very successful and is a very catchy song. This section of the website is not intended to demean Alanis, or the song itself. We simply wish to examine and discuss the various examples of irony she identifies.

Taking the song as a whole, a reasonable question would be to ask whether it is ironic that a song about irony incorrectly identifies irony. Indeed, Alanis herself allegedly said the following:

"The irony of 'Ironic' is that it's not an ironic song at all."

Since we don't believe that she understood the true nature of irony when she wrote the song (again we don't mean to sound condescending, we just find it unlikely) then it is arguable that it is indeed ironic (see dramatic irony). However, considering the bubble-gum-pop nature of the song it is not as ironic as it would have been had the song been intended as a serious examination of irony. Is it possible for something to be semi-ironic? Or did we just shoot ourselves in the foot? Oh, the irony...

So, was it ever plausible that she could have successfully written a song which would not have created such mockery? Could the song have ever have identified truly ironic situations? Does anyone actually agree on a good definition of irony that covers all bases, that one can point to and say "Oh yes, that's ironic"? Tricky. See our definition of irony page.