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Alanis is Alanis Morisette's debut studio album which was released on April 6, 1991 by MCA Records Canada.

Album BackgroundEdit

John Alexander, the head of A&R for MCA Records Canada, first heard a demo tape from Alanis Morissette in 1983, when she just was nine years old.

Alexander called it "very promising. Her voice was very strong, and it was remarkable that the tape included some original songs written by her at that age." However, he decided not to sign Morissette to a record deal because "from an A&R standpoint, I said, 'What am I going to do with a nine-year-old?'"

In 1987, Morissette met entertainment manager Stephan Klovan. At the 1988 World Figure Skating Championships, she recorded a well-received version of "O Canada" with two musicians, one of whom was Leslie Howe of the new wave/synthpop duo One to One.

Klovan intended for Howe to work with Morissette so that she could audition on the television show "Star Search," but eventually both he and Howe decided to try to secure a record contract for her. She did appear on "Star Search" in 1990, having auditioned more than once.

One of the demo recordings Howe and Morissette created with keyboardist Serge Côté in the studio was "Walk Away", for which Howe and Klovan funded an expensive promotional video that was filmed in Paris, France.

In 1988, Howe sent the video to Alexander, who later arranged a dinner meeting with Morissette. "I could tell that she was a very focused and passionate 14-year-old girl, who was also very talented", Alexander said. "I felt strongly that we could work together to build her music career."

The next day, he met Morissette and her parents and told them he wanted to sign her, but MCA Records did not endorse this decision. Leeds Levy, the president of MCA Publishing in North America, thought that Morissette had talent and agreed to sign her to a publishing deal as well as help fund a record deal for her.

MCA Publishing financed the album through Hot Mustard Records, its new independent label for the development of new artists, and MCA Records distributed it. The album was recorded in Distortion Studios, Ottawa between September and December 1990.

According to Morissette, people from MCA placed "hardcore" pressure on her to lose weight in time for the album's release, leading her to develop anorexia nervosa and bulimia. She subsequently began therapy, which she called "a long process to un-program [my brain]. I try to remember, whatever my body is, it's perfect the way it is."

Morissette also revealed she would often go straight from school to the studios where she would stay until 3:00 or 4:00 AM and write/record music, drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, and hang out with what she called "the older crowd."

TracklistingEdit

  1. Feel Your Love 3:49
  2. Too Hot 4:00
  3. Plastic 3:45
  4. Walk Away 4:51
  5. On My Own 4:08
  6. Superman 4:32
  7. Jealous 3:54
  8. Human Touch 3:22
  9. Oh Yeah! 3:59
  10. Party Boy 4:20

Chart PerformanceEdit

"Alanis" peaked at #28 on the Canada Top Albums/CDs chart and was certified Platinum in Canada with certified units/sales of 100,000.

Critical ReceptionEdit

"Alanis" was released in April 1991 to mixed reviews, and the media drew comparisons between Morissette and other teen pop singers at the time such as Debbie Gibson & Tiffany.

The first single released from the album, "Too Hot", reached number 14 on the Canadian singles chart and, in July, peaked within the top ten on contemporary hit radio. CBC called the song "Paula Abdul-inspired" and the Arizona Daily Wildcat described it as "cheesy" and "poppy".

The album went on to sell over 200,000 copies, though Morissette's popularity experienced a backlash at her high school, where her version of "O Canada" was played over the PA system every morning.

TIME magazine said the album "brought [Morissette] modest renown ... (one presumes) among people [in Canada] who don't read lyric sheets" while Rolling Stone described it as "vaguely Madonna-esque dance-pop" and "fairly generic." The Kansas City Star labelled it "a faux Janet Jackson album."

Spin magazine wrote: "It's as if her high school yearbook picture came to life and made an album designed to haunt her forever. Sometimes cheese is Velveeta."

In 1995, Morissette released her international debut album, "Jagged Little Pill" through U.S. label Maverick Records.

Executives at Maverick persuaded MCA Records to withdraw all copies of "Alanis" and "Now Is the Time" from circulation, and they did not mention either album in the promotional material for "Jagged Little Pill."

According to Spin, Morissette's transformation from "the Debbie Gibson of Canada" to an alternative rock musician made some Canadians skeptical. As of 2008, "Alanis" is officially out of print, but some pirates and mp3s have circulated.

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