Why is there nothing ironic in Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic”?

I enjoy listening to Alanis Morissette as much as the next guy (which isn’t much, I guess)… but there’s something that’s always bugged me. She has a song, “Ironic,” in which she lists lots of different tragic situations and then says “Isn’t it ironic…” The problem is that none of the situations in the song¬†actually meet the definition of irony, which requires incongruity, not just tragedy.

If you haven’t heard the song before, here’s the YouTube video…

Upon hearing “Ironic” on the radio the other day, my gut responded with its usual visceral hatred for Morissette’s abuse of the English language. And then it hit me… What if that’s the irony?¬†What if she’s really an artistic genius and she intentionally put nothing ironic in “Ironic” so that the whole song would be a heaping pile of irony? Thank God!

Unfortunately, humanity is not so lucky. In speaking of the song, Morissette stated “I’d always embraced the fact that every once in a while I’d be the malapropism queen. And when Glen and I were writing it, we definitely were not doggedly making sure that everything was technically ironic.”

So, there you have it. No artistic genius. Just a flagrant misuse of an already misunderstood term.

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