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Alanis Unplugged

One of my secret shames is that I kinda sorta like Jagged Little Pill (consider that double super-secret background information). Nevertheless, I'm in a Starbucks right now and they're playing some kind of acoustic version of the album and it's . . . terrible. Potentially, this is a good thing. Perhaps if I listen to this crap long enough my aversion to it will spill over and created an aversion to classic Pill thus allowing me to regain some cred. On a loosely related subject, what war is Operation Ivy referring to in "Unity" when they implore us to "stop this war!"? Some kind of metaphorical war inside the punk scene, it seems.

July 14, 2005 | Permalink


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Alanis is a pretty justifiable guilty pleasure. She makes good mainstream pop. I recommend her neglected second album.

And watching Kate Winslet rock out to Alanis in the amazing Holy Smoke is a non-guilty pleasure.

Posted by: Petey | Jul 14, 2005 8:51:49 PM

"Nevertheless, I'm in a Starbucks right now and they're playing some kind of acoustic version of the album and it's . . . terrible."

I believe the technical term for what you're listening to is Muzak™.

Via the Wikipedia definition:

"While the term Muzak is the trademarked name of the transmission system, it soon became associated with the music being played. Research had determined the appropriate music to play over the system, as it had been observed that certain music would increase worker productivity and influence the shopping habits of shoppers. This research influenced the musical selections, much of which was instrumental arrangements of popular songs."

Posted by: Petey | Jul 14, 2005 8:55:43 PM

And while I was over at the Wikipedia, I punched up your page and discovered they're using the "Princess" picture of you.

Ah, the sublime joy of the internets.

Posted by: Petey | Jul 14, 2005 9:08:57 PM

I believe the technical term for what you're listening to is Muzak™.
No, actually; Alanis did an acoustic re-recording of Jagged Little Pill as a Starbucks exclusive, celebrating the album's tenth anniversary. (I remember this because I felt extremely old when I read about it; is JLP really ten years old?)

Thinking back to her "Unplugged" appearance, I thought a few songs really benefited from that setting, particularly "Head Over Feet". Mostly, though, they didn't. Then again, I never really liked the album in the first place.

Posted by: thejtrain | Jul 14, 2005 9:27:11 PM

I just dialled 31337, the Cool Police will be at your house soon. Prepare to have them confiscate your record collection and replace it with nu-metal.

Posted by: Yentz | Jul 14, 2005 11:53:06 PM

I'd heard of "muzak" only once before - when I listened to part of television news clip on it... I'm afraid I'd forgotten about this audio feature. But the thing is... Wait - is that the new picture of you, to the immediate right of my typing? (Maybe not, since I doubt you'd be to the 'right' of my writing.) The thing is, I'd thought you'd have a laptop, based on your description of where this entry was composed... But is your Starbucks set up for wireless (that anyone can access freely?) Since I got my laptop, I've never even thought of taking it to Barnes and Noble (which here has a good Starbucks cafe in it)... Though that sounds like an excellent idea. Thanks for the tip.

Who the heck is "Jagged Little Pill"?

Posted by: Aakash | Jul 15, 2005 12:02:34 AM

I'm not entirely sure because it was a long time ago, but OpIvy may have been referring to any number of the wars we were kinda sorta involved with in Central America.

Posted by: jayinbmore | Jul 15, 2005 1:09:28 AM

funny, my ex-bf and I have an ongoing conversation about how dreadful the muzak at Starbucks is, and specifically, depressing. Well, it's not really a conversation: he hangs out at Starbucks and I don't (the part of the city in which I live is not yet that gentrified), and sends me e-mails about what the muzak is that they're playing and why it's depressing him. he sent me a message a while back almost identical to the first half of this post.

Anyway, I adored Alanis when Jagged Little Pill first came out. I don't think I had a clue what "you oughta know" was really talking about half the time, but my best friend and I decided "perfect" was a perfect description of our lives. Gee, that makes me sound pretty f--d up, doesn't it...

Posted by: flippantangel | Jul 15, 2005 1:48:59 AM

Crap, I can't believe I just authored a post containing the phrase "almost identical." I've long believed that is the most idiotic two-word combination one can construct. Must resolve not to read or comment on blogs this late at night.

Posted by: flippantangel | Jul 15, 2005 1:50:39 AM

A Starbucks exclusive???

So this is on double super-secret background eh? Novak will surely be writing about it tomorrow. We all have our guilty pleasures but I can safely say that Alanis is not one of them. Can't stand it really. But to each his own. See I kind of really like Smash Mouth in a have-all-the-albums-but-never-tell-a-soul kind of way. Except for the Shrek song of course. I also like Police Academy 3.

Posted by: Kermit | Jul 15, 2005 3:51:53 AM

I always assumed that the "war" mentioned in "Unity" was a potential nuclear war: "Self destruction fast impending like a bullet / No one can stop it, once it's fired, no one can control it"

The band's name is taken from a set of nuclear tests, and they were together from '87-'89 so the fear of nuclear war was still pretty prevalent at the time.

Posted by: Ricky Barnhart | Jul 15, 2005 6:46:02 AM

"On a loosely related subject, what war is Operation Ivy referring to in "Unity" when they implore us to "stop this war!"?"

I believe they are referring to the Democrats long war on Christianity.

Posted by: Petey | Jul 15, 2005 9:00:38 AM

I'd like to strike my previous comment from the record.

Posted by: Petey | Jul 15, 2005 9:01:16 AM

Different Starbucks play different music. I was at one near McPherson Square awhile back and the barristas were a young and a middle aged black men. While I was there wasting a half hour waiting for an appointment they had a great set of Sam and Dave on. I heard Starbucks uses some kind of premade CDs for their stores. Also, XM channel 75 "Hear Music" is the "Voice of Starbucks" but I don't recall hearing the XM promo in any of the Starbucks I've been in. I'll freely admit I like a lot of what's played on XM 75 and have been introduced to a lot of good bands since I stopped following the music scene. The Alanis acoustic album was given extensive coverage on XM a few weeks ago when it came out FWIW, but I'm not an Alanis fan either.

Posted by: DC Loser | Jul 15, 2005 9:11:30 AM

The acoustic version of "You Oughta Know" is especially awful because she tones down the most outrageous lyrics, which were the only reason the song got any attention in the first place. Wimp.

Posted by: Redshift | Jul 15, 2005 9:54:26 AM

Princess, you have no street cred.

Posted by: Ikram | Jul 15, 2005 10:44:11 AM

I second Barnhart (re: Op Ivy's Unity).

Posted by: von | Jul 15, 2005 12:07:44 PM

Taking a relative pleasure in Jagged Little Pill represents a very high level of discernment in terms of wading through mainstream radio stuff.

Op Ivy was talking about the various infightings going on in the punk movement at the time, but the song also extrapolates that punk scene segmentation into a commentary on the human condition, and makes reference to the need for "unity" in terms of collective action focused on peace-nik political ends. That's my interpretation.

Posted by: Jedmunds | Jul 15, 2005 12:16:17 PM

Your past fondness explained. Maybe.

She re-emerges in 1995, an angry pseudo-feminist babe in leather pants and a pirate shirt, to capitalize on the tail end of grunge, selling 30 million copies of Jagged Little Pill (a U.S. record-setting "debut" for a female artist). The album connects with some key demographics, mainly 12-year-old girls hungry for their first rotten boyfriend. But a number of guys are also intrigued by Morissette, who calls herself "perverted" in You Oughta Know. And there was something refreshing about the 20-year-old's depth and vocabulary (excusing her misunderstanding of the word "ironic").


Posted by: nate | Jul 15, 2005 12:23:02 PM

Jedmunds is right regarding Op Ivy.

Posted by: Josh | Jul 15, 2005 2:59:30 PM

Morissette's second teenybopper album, out the following year, makes little impact. The singer falls off the radar, but not before starting a romance with Uncle Joey (a.k.a. Dave Coulier) from Full House.

That's the most distrubing thing I've read in a long time. And I'm including all of that Cruise/Holmes coverage.

Posted by: Jedmunds | Jul 15, 2005 3:04:06 PM

. . . but not before starting a romance with Uncle Joey (a.k.a. Dave Coulier)

What do you think "You Oughta Know" was about?

Posted by: Kriston | Jul 15, 2005 6:45:42 PM

Late 80s Berkeley was a violent place. Lots of skinhead-on-punk fights, punk-on-punk violence, etc. That's why Jesse sings, "there's a war going down with my brothers tonight." One measure of post OPIV unity: many of those same skinheads morph into the U.S. Thugs, the skinhead gang associated with Rancid. My understanding is that this caused a fair amount of acrimony within the Berzerkeley punks who used to take their lumps alongside what was then the OPIV crew -- Brian Zero once wrote a whiny column for MRR about what he considered Rancid's betrayal by joining forces with the Thugs.

Posted by: Spencer | Jul 16, 2005 2:32:48 PM

Good God. Alanis brings this whole sexuality double standard to the fore. Clueless guys and cluess girls can relate to the angst. The biology that drives our desires is opposed by the cultural and religious police that would deny our sexuality in order to build a society and workforce to their liking. Sex is good. Sorry Christian Right. Biology sets us up to experience pleasure at puberty. Society wants us to marry at 22-24. This leaves us with 8 F**ked up years or more.

Posted by: bakho | Jul 17, 2005 2:48:17 AM

If there's something I'm glad to have stopped caring about at all, it's stuff like intra-punk disputes.

Posted by: FL | Jul 17, 2005 3:09:31 PM

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