Saturday, June 17, 1995

Alanis Morissette hit the charts with “You Oughta Know”

You Oughta Know

Alanis Morissette

Writer(s): Alanis Morissette, Glen Ballard (see lyrics here)

Released: July 6, 1995

First Charted: June 17, 1995

Peak: 13a US, 2 CB, 9 RR, 3 AR, 15 MR, 22 UK, 6 CN, 4 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.3 UK, 0.87 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 79.6 video, 172.85 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In her native Canada, Alanis Morissette became a teen pop star, releasing two albums which spawned eight chart hits in the early ‘90s. However, the rest of the world didn’t know who she was until her internationally-released Jagged Little Pill on Madonna’s Maverick label. Alanis teamed up with songwriter Glen Ballard, who co-wrote “You Oughta Know” and the rest of the songs on the album. Ballard said they connected instantly, noting that she was “ready to take a chance on doing something that might have no commercial application.” WK

With its “aggressive, hard rock nature” WK the song marked a transition for Alanis from her previous bubblegum pop to alternative rock. As for being noncommercial, the results were anything but. “You Oughta Know” was the first of six singles which propelled the album to more than 30 million in sales worldwide. That song included some big names who were familiar with commercial success. Benmont Tench of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers played Hammond organ and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Dave Navarro and Flea added guitar and bass, respectively. WK

The lyrics for “You Oughta Know” came from a journal entry which Alanis wrote during what she called “a very devastated time.” SF She was reluctant to sing the “scathing, explicit lyrics” WK about an ex-boyfriend because she didn’t want to hurt anybody. SF Ballard, however, encouraged her, saying “You have to do this.” SF

There was much speculation about the identity of the ex-boyfriend. Alanis has said she will never reveal who the song is about, SF but it has been widely assumed to be actor Dave Coulier, best known from TV’s Full House, who, as a thirtysomething, dated a teenage Alanis in 1992. He has “alternately admitted to and denied being the subject of the song.” WK In 1997, he told the Boston Herald that lines like “bug you in the middle of dinner” hit close to come. WK Entertainment Weekly’s David Browne praised Morissette for turning her “jealous bile into something worth hearing.” WK

“You Oughta Know” was nominated for three Grammys, winning Best Rock Song and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.


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First posted 1/26/2021; last updated 11/1/2022.

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