An open letter to Alanis Morissette

Dear Alanis:

This is your time to shine. That whole Jagged Little Pill thing was just a fluke, even if it did give us the greatest moment of meta-irony ever to be recorded. Despite the nearly boundless sarcastic joy that little ditty brought to music critics the world over, the people just weren't ready for you, as evidenced by the fact that you've pretty much disappeared from the musical landscape during the past 12 years. Sure, you had some minor successes with your ­follow-up albums, but as far as American culture is concerned, you topped out in '95. Sorry, I know you're Canadian and all.

Bear with me, now, as I've just revealed the key to your impending stardom. You're Canadian. That's what went wrong the first time around. Your early success on the Canadian charts lulled you into a false sense of security; you believed that your southern neighbors would be a welcome audience, but your subtle mix of ballads and pop-oriented dance tunes fell on deaf ears in the States.

So, you reinvented yourself. You shed the persona your countrymen found so appealing, choosing the glitz and glamour of temporary American stardom instead of a steady career of middling hits and mediocre renown among your Canadian brethren. I know, I know, it worked for Shakey. Maybe if you had spent your time spurning fame instead of courting it...but I digress.

In a twist of irony that I'm sure you of all people can appreciate, your youthful hurdle will be your mature triumph. These days, Alanis, the American and Canadian musical palates are not so far removed. These days, merely being Canadian provides a virtual guarantee of critical acclaim and fanatical adoration.

It might be wise to get an edgier haircut and some vintage threads. It would probably be a good idea to enlist at least 18 additional band members; be sure to include a theremin player. Oh, and Alanis Morissette just won't cut it, name-wise; I suggest something a little more postmodern. If you can swing it, find some way to align yourself with some sort of musical or literary cult hero who is currently experiencing a renaissance, like Jandek or Philip K. Dick.

All it takes is a little bit of tweaking, and you've got it set. Canada's already done half the work for you.

It's bandwagon time, Alanis. Yeah, I really do think.

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Nicholas L. Hall is a husband and father who earns his keep playing a video game that controls the U.S. power grid. He also writes for the Houston Press about food, booze and music, in an attempt to keep the demons at bay. When he's not busy keeping your lights on, he can usually be found making various messes in the kitchen, with apologies to his wife.
Contact: Nicholas L. Hall