The current issue of EW celebrates the 20th anniversary of Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, a watershed album that is getting the deluxe reissue treatment at the end of the month. In the oral history of the album’s construction, Morissette and her compatriots touch on the fact that one of the big reasons Pill has had such an incredible and long-lasting legacy is the cavalcade of similarly-minded artists who were signed and promoted in her wake. It wasn’t just a big album, it was a revolution.
“It was an odd time,” explains Morissette. “When ‘You Oughta Know’ first came out, a lot of the reaction from the radio stations was, ‘We can’t play this because we’re already playing Sinead O’Connor.’ They were playing one female artist, so they couldn’t have a second.” (Jewel expressed a similar sentiment in the oral history of Pieces of You, noting that one of the things that blocked “Who Will Save Your Soul” from getting much radio traction was the fact that Joan Osborne’s “One of Us” was already filling the female quotient on most radio playlists.)
But once “You Oughta Know” (and “Ironic” and “Hand in My Pocket” and “You Learn”) became huge airplay and sales hits, the floodgates opened. If you chart the rise of Jagged Little Pill from its release in 1995 to the end of Morissette’s tour two years later, all manner of female artists pop up along the way, each bringing her own version of Morissette’s deeply personal confessions. It’s an arc that culminates in the launch of the first Lilith Fair in 1997.
Though Alanis was known as an anger merchant thanks to the one-two punch of “All I Really Want” and “You Oughta Know” that kicks off Jagged Little Pill, her album’s many shades managed to infiltrate her followers. Some took their approach wholesale from “You Oughta Know,” like Tracy Bonham or Meredith Brooks. Others, like Fiona Apple, borrowed the more journalistic exercises of “Head Over Feet.” A handful of women, including Paula Cole, tapped into a more hippie-ish direction.
The rising tide of Jagged Little Pill wasn’t just about signing new artists, either. Plenty of already-established women saw their profiles skyrocket after Jagged Little Pill took off: Sarah McLachlan, Ani DiFranco, the Indigo Girls and Sheryl Crow all got incredible boosts from Alanis’ largesse. And it wasn’t even just women, as Morissette’s confessional style also paved the way for the likes of Elliott Smith, Shawn Mullins, and everybody whose song ever showed up on Dawson’s Creek.
So in honor of the great leap forward that was Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill , here are 50 artists who walked through the door that Morissette kicked open.