Sunday, August 12, 2007

No, it is NOT ironic!

I know I've seen other bloggers reference this in the past, but since I was just forced to listen to this song a few minutes ago at the grocery store, I have now been granted the right to say my piece as well.

I'm talking about that annoying song Ironic by Alanis Morissette. It must be the way I'm wired but for whatever reason that song totally bugs me. Because if you really listen to the lyrics you'll find that she decided to write an entire song about irony, apparently without consulting her dictionary or thesaurus first.

Here's the deal... listed below are the phrases she has passed off as "ironic." I've evaluated said lyrics and have applied a Yes/No ranking to each. At the end, we'll decide just how accurate Alanis actually was in labeling these hypothetical situations properly.

Let's check the irony!

"An old man turned ninety-eight. He won the lottery and died the next day"
No. This is simply a case of bad luck. I'm reasonably sure this will happen to me.

It's a black fly in your Chardonnay

No. This is just disgusting.

It's a death row pardon two minutes too late

No. Just bad timing.

It's like rain on your wedding day
No. Just my wedding day.

It's a free ride when you've already paid
No. And what the hell does that even mean?

It's the good advice that you just didn't take
No. Just a stupid sentence that doesn't belong in this song.

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase 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..."
No.Just a guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A traffic jam when you're already late
No. Bad planning.

A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
No. You're just in California (or Minnesota after Oct 1 - YAY!)

It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife

No. You're just looking in the wrong drawer, although the wrong REALLY BIG drawer for sure.

It's meeting the man of my dreams and then meeting his beautiful wife
No. Your just an unlucky jealous loser.

So there you have it. She writes a song about irony and none of the "ironies" are actually ironic.

Now THAT'S actually ironic!

Unless... unless Alanis was actually anticipating that people like me would over-analyze a song about irony that wasn't ironic and knew it would piss us off. THEN, I would have to say "Hats off to you Alanis, because you truly have bested me on this one!" But then that would require that she was smart enough to conceive such a convoluted scheme, and anyone who writes a song about irony that isn't ironic in the first place just can't be that smart.

Don't you think?

21 comments:

Heather said...

I never understood the "free ride when you've already paid" thing either. It is a stupid song if you overanalyze it, but I like it if I don't think about it too much. I guess I like the melody. Or something.

I was attempting to understand the Duran Duran song "Wild Boys" the other day. If you know what this song is about, let me know.

Whit said...

I can't stand that song. You're right, none of the stuff is ironic, just annoying.

Wild Boys is about male dancers, isn't it?

Hilly said...

"No, you're just in California"

Amen to that, brotha!

Schnozz said...

I listened to this song in my early years of high school.

I am now closing in on thirty.

If Alanis ever kills herself, her note will say, "I WAS LIKE TWENTY YEARS OLD AND IT WAS TEN YEARS AGO AND CAN WE PLEASE JUST F*$KING DROP IT ALREADY."

On your head be it, Jeff. On your head be it.

(Also: according to Webster, anything that is simply unexpected can be considered ironic. Which is what I say EVERY TIME someone writes this post. Clearly I haven't escaped the cycle either.)

Gale said...

I find it ironic that you know all the words to a song that bugs you. :)

Julie Pippert said...

I can't stand that song. ACK. And now it's stuck in my head nothankyouverymuch.

You're right and others have addressed it but I have to say this list with breakdown is the funniest one!

Julie
Ravin' Picture Maven

Bill said...

Could it be considered ironic that a great musician like you is missing the spectacular Duluth Blues Festival, while writing about irony?

Jeff said...

heather - I just read the lyrics to Wild Boys, and it beats the hell out of me what it's about. Something about trying to tame rebel boys. But if you play it backwards it says "Paul McCartney is dead" - so that's pretty cool.

whit - Could be male dancers, although even that would be a stretch. I'll ask Simon next time I see him.

hilly - *cough* *cough* You ain't a kiddin!

schnozz - Actually, this song doesn't bug me at all. I just made all this up to see if I could lure you into my comments. Mission accomplished!

gale - I don't know the words, but Google sure does!

julie - Thanks. Like Schnozz said, people have been beating up this song for 10 years. But this is a free country and now it's my turn!

bill - I just saw that advertised the other day and was thinking, "Hey I should be IN the Blues Festival!"

I don't know about ironic, but it's definitely not fair that Alanis just made another royalty off that stupid song when I busted my hump trying to "make it" for 10 years playing much better music and came out of it with nothing. Wah for me.

yellojkt said...

I have often used the phrase "ironic in an Allison Morrisette kind of way" when something isn't really ironic. I think she has actually done some good as a good example of a bad example.

yellojkt said...

I meant Alanis Morisette.

Mom Thumb said...

At the grocery store!? It should be illegal to play this song in a public place.

Mooselet said...

We just had an Alanis Morrisette song clue ("You Learn') on our trivia night this past weekend and now it's been stuck in my head. And then you do this post. Is that ironic?

Don't try to decipher Duran Duran lyrics and meanings, especially their pre-1986 stuff. You'll go insane, it's been medically proven.

cathouse teri said...

I'm late, but commenting anyway!

It has confused me every time I hear people complain about this misuse of the word irony. I am a lover of words. In fact, one of my favorite things is etymology. So, I went to Webster and looked up the word. Yes, as previously pointed out, irony is to mean "having an unexpected result." It comes from a greek word 'eiron' which means 'dissembler.'

Now, I happen to love both Alanis and this song. It states plainly how much it sucks when you expect one thing, and get another. It doesn't require over or under analyzing.

If I go to a silverware drawer to get a knife, I don't this it's unusual to expect to find one. But finding only spoons? Is this not ironic?

And the free ride when you've already paid? What is so elusive about this? You buy a ticket and then someone offers to take you for free? That sucks. I once saw Jay Leno talking about a woman who turned 100 years old. The town she lived in honored her by giving her a lifetime free bus pass. Jay pointed out, "How many times do you think she's paid for the bus and NOW, at age 100, they are going to give her rides for free for the REST of her life?? Do ya think they could have come up with that a little sooner??"

I think the song is simply brilliant. ;)

Jeff said...

teri - Technically, you and Schnozz are absolutely right, the word "irony" has many meanings including "anything unexpected." The problem is, the most common use of the word deals with the more satirical "pun-like" definition, not the more relaxed and all-inclusive definition you describe.

Therefore, if we were to agree that Alanis is using the term correctly, we would also have to agree that she wrote the lyrics expecting the minority of the listeners to relate to them - which to me doesn't make the most sense.

Come on, as a computer analyst, it's impossible to ask me not to over analyze this. ;-)

cathouse teri said...

Well in my life, usage has almost always been in the sense of something happening that was the opposite of what we were expecting. I must live a different life than most people then????

Yes, mister analyst, you must analyze. Just as a policeman must police. And a judge must judge.

But we cannot live with art, without grace, can we?

Schnozz said...

Ah, a linguistic argument! I love linguistic arguments!

Jeff, I would have to say that most people are more likely to use the broad definition of irony. Which is why people continually call things ironic and why other (and fewer) people continually screech that NO, THAT IS NOT IRONIC AT ALL, MY GOD, WHEN ARE YOU IDIOTS GOING TO GET IT.

Alanis merely heightened that divide. Before that song came out and a bunch of people slammed it, I'd say hardly ANYBODY knew the stricter definition of irony, or at least they were the minority by far. (In fact, I think they're still the minority. Hell, most people can't even pronounce "nuclear" properly, so I think you're giving them far too much credit on this "stricter definition of irony" thing.)

After the song came out, knowing the stricter definition became this big ticket into IntellectLand, and everyone sniffed at the poor populace who didn't understand what irony REALLY meant.

I'm truly fascinated by this stuff and always have been. Knowing which fork to use for your salad, knowing the "right" definition of irony, knowing how to pronounce Greenwich Mean Time, and a million other little tests constitute the ways we separate the Knows from the Know-Nots, even if we only do it gently and in jest. I do it myself all the time, and the random superficiality of the entire process never ceases to amaze me.

I apologize if I've made your post into something much more involved than it was really intended to be, but like I said ... fascinated.

Jeff said...

Schnozz - No apology necessary. On the contrary I am quite pleased. This is the most debate my comments have seen in months!

I find it ironic that a silly post over the use of the word irony from a 10 year old song is generating this much discussion.

Who would of thought, it figgers.

cathouse teri said...

Well we could discuss what it means when one popular and MUCH older song says, "Stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni!"

cathouse teri said...

More irony at other blogs! Arggghhh!

OOOOOOOOOOOoooooo! Look what I found!

http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/lit_terms/irony.html

Chad said...

Merely mentioning the fact that I'm surprised no one has yet simply continued the lyrics by saying, "A little too ironic. And yeah I really do think," disqualifies me from having simply said it.

Darn.

Jeff said...

chad - Check this out. It's pretty funny.