Alanis Morissette:  Ironic

Quiz by Sharon Michiko Yoneda

" An old man wins the lottery and he dies the next day.  Isn't it ironic?"

"There's a black fly in your Chardonnay.  Isn't it ironic?"

"Death row pardon---two minutes too late.   Isn't it ironic?"

"It's like rain on your wedding day.  Isn't it ironic?"

"It's a free ride when you've already paid.  Isn't it ironic?"

"Mr. Play-it-Safe was afraid to fly.   He packed his suitcases 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.  Isn't it ironic?"

"It's a traffic jam when you are already late.  Isn't it ironic?"

"It's like ten thousand spoons  when all you need is a knife.  Isn't it ironic?"

"A no-smoking" sign on your cigarette break.  Isn't it ironic?"

"It's meeting the man of my dreams. And then meeting his beautiful wife. Isn't it ironic?"

artist:  Alanis Morisette

songwriter:  Glen Ballard and Alanis Morisette

date released:  1995 by Alanis Morissette

*Teacher's Alert:  Excellent interpretation of irony from Dr. Google."

In a few words, this song is about the irony that our lives reflect sometimes. The two verses that best describe this song are the two last verses “life has a funny way of sneaking up on you […] life has a funny way of helping you out.” The term “life” repeated five times in this song, exhibits the strong relation that this song has with the expectations we have towards our lives. We constantly encounter situations where we expect certain things to happen, and unfortunately the opposite hit us: Irony of our Fate. It is like God amusing himself by playing with and manipulating our lives.

 The lyrics are basic examples of circumstances that one can encounter throughout his life. These examples are completed by some thoughtful ideas at the end of every couplet and especially in the bridge. For instance, when she mentions the sentence” who would’ve thought it figures “in the chorus.

 This sentence shows clearly that these events were totally unexpected and unpredictable.

 An important issue I would like to point out is that this song makes me think. It is in a way a philosophical song since it deals with life and what we expect from it. I love this song for its way of throwing life in our faces. It forces reconsideration of the old adage 'Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.' Indeed,I would find it difficult to believe the old man did not wish for winning the lottery, the customer did not wish for a neat chardonnay, or that any woman does not wish to meet the man of their dreams.

 All of these characters receive what they think they want but aren't able to enjoy it. So this song might also aim to question if we really wish to have what we think we want. This issue certainly makes me think and that might be the real reason I like it so much. I love the rare songs that provoke thought. This song challenges me to question what I think and why I think the way I do, which is how I grow.

 The term Ironic, mentioned five times in this song (when not implied!) is very important to define. There has been a debate over whether Morissette conveys the correct meaning of the word in this song. According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition, irony means: “Incongruity between what is expected and what actually occurs”. 

Actually, if we look at the examples she gives, and based on this official definition; we cannot state that all the examples mentioned in the song are ironic. She seems to have gotten ironic events mixed up with misfortune or bad luck. For example, the “free ride when you've already paid” or the “no-smoking sign on your cigarette break” are ironic events whereas the “old man who won the lottery and died the next day” and the “rain on your wedding day” are more considered as unfortunate events. Whether she was knowingly using the word in the incorrect sense or not, let's face it - the song just wouldn't  have the same attractive effect if it had been called "Unlucky", would it?

 In my opinion, this is a good song in many ways. It's got a story, good feeling, and great music, especially with the explosion of the word "rain" in every refrain in addition to the sarcastic emotion of the line "a little too ironic.”. it can be considered as an emotional release when heard, as well as a reflection of culture with the notion of “irony of our fate” and finally, it arises from personal taste: a contemporary pop/rock music style attractive to the new generation of teenagers.  

"It's a free ride when you've already paid."