The Worst Song Of The '90s? A Line-By-Line Dissection Of Alanis Morissette's "Ironic"

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Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 5:00 AM

click to enlarge Don't you think?
  • Don't you think?
When it comes to musical decades, the '60s remains the gold standard. Though the '70s were initially mocked for prog rock and disco, it's now clear that prog rock and disco are awesome. And around this time ten years ago, folks began to venerate the '80s in earnest.

But as our distance from the '90s grows, it becomes increasingly clear that it was a desolate musical time. Kurt Cobain and hip-hop's golden age aside, it's pretty traumatizing. And the worst '90s song of them all has to be Alanis Morissette's "Ironic," right? It certainly seems to be the most nonsensical, at least if you believe the conventionally-held notion that nothing in the song is, in fact, ironic. But is that actually true? We decided to take a line-by-line look at the lyrics; if, in fact, the song makes more sense than we remembered, maybe the '90s deserves more respect.

For the purposes of this analysis, we naturally used the definition of "irony" from Reality Bites character Troy Dyer, played by Ethan Hawke: "It's when the actual meaning is the complete opposite from the literal meaning."

An old man turned 98

He won the lottery and died the next day

Is this ironic? Had the man been playing the lottery his whole life, there may have been some irony in him dying the next day. But owing to this lack of information calling the statement ironic is a stretch.

It's a black fly in your Chardonnay

Is this ironic? The juxtaposition of the classy beverage and the dirty fly make for a potentially interesting image, but this is not ironic.

It's a death row pardon two minutes too late

Is this ironic? It's fucking tragic.

It's like rain on your wedding day

Is this ironic? This is the line Morissette haters often cite when criticizing "Ironic." Indeed, rain on one's wedding day is not ironic. It's just, like, unfortunate, if you're a girl or whatever.

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