Is Alanis Ironic?

by Admin

Not the best of titles, but it serves its purpose, subtly mocking the song “Ironic” by Alanis Morisette. The 1996 single was actually very popular in its time, for reasons currently unknown to me. I was barely seven when it was released and even then I knew the definition of irony that Alanis was then embarrassing. When I heard the song on the radio the other day, the memories of mocking the title came back to me, so I thought I’d examine it further.

The Wikipedia definition says irony occurs “when the literal truth is in direct discordance to the perceived truth.” So how right was Alanis about her song? Let’s examine the lyrics.

1.”An old man turned ninety-eight, he won the lottery and died the next day.”
I guess this one is actually pretty ironic. An elderly man at the end of his life wins something he won’t be able to truly enjoy, though one can assume that at the very least the money was passed down to his heirs, so not much (except his life) was ruined.
Irony rating: 8.5/10

2. “It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay”
Not at all. That’s not ironic, it just sucks. The only irony here would be a black fly in a white wine, but, Damn. Alanis wins again.
Irony rating: 9/10

3. “It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late”
This is by far the most ironic event in the song. I’m starting to question why I’m doing this little experiment, Alanis keeps kicking my ass.
Irony rating: 10/10

4. “It’s like rain on your wedding day, It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid, It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take”
I’m combining all of these sentences because the chorus of the song should be the most ironic part right? Wrong. None of these things are ironic, at least in my opinion. Granted none of them should happen, and they all suck quite hard, but calling these “ironic” is like saying I’ve heard this song “literally” 1,000,000 times. I hate people that overuse “literally”.
Irony factor: 3/10

5. “Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly, He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye, He waited his whole damn life to take that flight, And as the plane crashed down he thought, ‘Well isn’t this nice…'”
Irony factor: 8.8/10

6. “A traffic jam when you’re already late, a no-smoking sign on your cigarette break”

The traffic jam just really really sucks. Its not ironic, its almost expected when things just aren’t going your way, you expect them to continue. Ditto for the no-smoking sign. I’m sure there are other places to go to smoke on your break.
Irony factor: 4/10

7. “It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife”
NO! NO IT’S NOT! THAT IS NOT IRONY! It’s just a huge inconvenience. I suppose with ten thousand spoons you can break enough till you get a sharp enough knife (if they’re made out of plastic). If they’re made out of medal, then that just sucks. I suppose though you could find someone somewhere that would give you at least one knife for all those spoons?
Irony factor: 2.5/10

8. “It’s meeting the man of my dreams, and then meeting his beautiful wife”
No that’s jsut really bad timing. He’s happy, married, so obviously he wasn’t searching for you. Sucks.
Irony factor: 2/10

So that’s about all the statements in our song. About the video, (see top) can anyone explain to me why she spent the whole video in a car, then appearing herself in her mirror? I’m confused.

Even though I found almost none of the song ironic, including the ones I rated high on the “irony scale,” I guess we still have to give Alanis credit. She was barely twenty when she wrote it, and she’s even admitted that the definitions aren’t ironic. Still, according to her, isn’t writing a song called “Ironic” about things that aren’t ironic ironic in itself?

Touché Alanis, touché.