Alanis Morissette: Remembering "You Oughta Know"


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Do you know what the number one song on the Modern Rock Tracks chart was on this day in 1995? Well, you oughta. Hard to believe it's been almost two decades since a young girl from Canada, already known by many as the brunette from You Can't Do That On Television, shocked radio listeners everywhere with her hard-hitting, slightly unnerving, catchy-as-hell pop tune You Oughta Know.

The song was one that if it came on in the car and you were with your mother, it would make you both feel just a little bit uncomfortable, especially that line about doing something naughty in a movie theater. But it was also so catchy, raw, and original that it was nearly impossible to change the radio dial.

Morissette seemed to write her breakthrough song using an almost out of body method. "When I was writing it, it was so subconscious. I wasn't aware of what was coming out of me," the 21-year-old told Billboard just before her first album Jagged Little Pill topped the charts. She added, "I'd go into the booth ... and sing. I'd listen the next day and not really remember it."

Whatever method Morissette used worked like a charm. Jagged Little Pill sold almost 15 million copies in the United States and 33 million copies worldwide. The album was nominated for nine Grammy Awards and won five. You Oughta Know won two Grammys, one for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and the other one for Best Rock Song.

The album was made up almost entirely of radio hits. Besides You Oughta Know, five other songs from Jagged Little Pill topped the charts in 1995-1996: Hand in My Pocket, Ironic, You Learn, Head over Feet, and All I Really Want. And while many people think of Morissette as the angst-filled, scored lover from You Ought Know, Head over Feet and Hand in My Pocket are sweet songs that sing of happiness and love.

Of course, the urban legend is that You Oughta Know is about Dave Coulier, Uncle Joey from Full House. The pair dated in the early 1990s, when she was just a teenager and he was in his 30s. Coulier has hinted publicly that there are a few familiar sounding lines in the tune like, "I hate to bug you in the middle of dinner." He explained, "We had already broken up....She called and I said, 'Hey, you know, I'm right in the middle of dinner. Can I just call you right back?' When I heard the line, it was like, uhhh-ohhh!" Morissette has never revealed the secret.

Morissette is 40-years-old now. She's married to rapper Mario "Souleye" Treadway, and the couple have one child named Ever. She's still putting out albums, but it's probably safe to say that in today's music world, she won't have a hit with a larger impact than You Oughta Know.

Image via Wikimedia Commons