Glaring Lack of Irony In Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" Fixed Via Fansourcing

The most seemingly ironic yet just sort of funny thing about Alanis Morissette’s mid-'90s karaoke staple, "Ironic," has long been the fact that none of the supposedly ironic situations the song mentions are actually ironic. It took a parody to get the song’s premise right.

Song parodies on YouTube are often tedious things to be avoided. Not to single any of them out as being worse than the rest, but the recent Daft Punk/Marvel’s The Avengers mashup, Get Loki, for example, is the goofily groan-inducing standard. They’re like bad puns that are four minutes long. In fact, Funny or Die’s Nick Wiger made the ultimate statement on disposable song parodies with last fall’s trippy meta-video Gungan Style. Of course, every now and then a song parody comes along that makes all the tedious pap preceding and following it worth the journey.

One of the most memorable elements of Alanis Morissette’s mid-'90s karaoke staple, "Ironic," has long been the fact that none of the supposedly ironic situations the song mentions are actually ironic. "Meeting the man of your dreams and then meeting his beautiful wife"—the story of my life—is inconvenient, and perhaps unfortunate, but not ironic, as it’s defined. Whether Morissette intended it to be that way, it took a parody to get it right. Comedian Eliza Hurwitz and her singer-songwriter sibling, Rachael, recently released "It’s Finally Ironic," a very literal corrective to Alanis’s melodic lament.

The video, which reenacts the memorable multiplicity-of-Morissettes-in-a-car concept of the original, "fixes" each scenario mentioned in the song by injecting them with true irony. The Hurwitz sisters make their premise known immediately, with the opening lines: "An old man turned 98. He won the lottery and died the next day (from a severe paper cut from his lottery ticket)." Other mini-vignettes are given a good goosing as well.

The song also addresses the original’s creator directly. "We fixed it, Alanis," Hurwitz breathily intones during the chorus. The only irony left would be if Alanis never heard this new version. Or maybe that would merely be sad.

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  • Todd Johnson

    The things she uses in her song are not ironic. They can be parts of situations that are indeed ironic, but just saying "i have a thousand spoons but I just need a knife" isn't ironic, it is just unfortunate. You have to set the expectation prior to the situation being ironic. Rain on your wedding day? That can only be ironic if you can prove the situation was fully intended for it not to rain. You cannot confuse coincidence or bad timing for true irony. Traffic when you are already late is something that you can almost fully expect, on any given day. You would be foolish to be surprised by traffic even if you were already late.

  • Sinisterlovesick

    Uhh... the original irony was just fine. The ambiguous word has several usages, the wikipedia page on irony is hard enough to get through with all the different ideas surrounding it; but, as far as I'm concerned, Morrisette's use is just fine. Summarily, I find it somewhat ironic (but mostly stupid) that people are contradicting the (correct) use a word that is "most broadly defined as a situation where the outcome is incongruous with what was expected, but it is also more generally understood as a situation that includes contradictions or sharp contrasts."

  • *filo*

    I'm not a native speaker, so I should probably just shut up and listen, but this is the Internet, and everyone feels entitled to comment on everything, especially on things they know nothing about, so I'm gonna take advantage of that right here right now.
    I never understood why so many people constantly point out that the lyrics of this song are "wrong", that Alanis Morissette got the meaning of the word "ironic" completely wrong. The meaning of the word "ironic", they say, doesn't really apply to any of the situations presented in the song. And, just like you did in this article, they often link one dictionary definition of irony to prove their point.
    Now, maybe I'm misled by the meaning and use of "irony" and "ironic" in Italian (which happens to be my mothertongue), but one of the meaning that the word can take is exactly the one used by alanis morissette in her song. And I could be completely wrong, but I thought that the meaning [3a] in the definition provided in the merriam-webster fits perfectly the sense in which she used the word "ironic".
    If not, could anyone explain to me why, please? (I'm serious, I'm not trolling or anything)