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DLC Week of 6/15: Alanis Morissette and AWOLNATION

Alanis Morissette “You Oughta Know” and AWOLNATION “Cannonball” are two full-tilt rockers that put the spotlight on the vocals and lyrics to potent effect! Be sure to grab this new DLC debuting Thursday in the Rock Band Music Store!

“You Oughta Know,” lead single from Alanis Morissette’s third studio album, Jagged Little Pill, burst onto the scene in 1995, serving as an introduction to the Canadian singer-songwriter for many and as the announcement of a significant new talent in popular music. Scathing, deeply personal lyrics delivered with emotional honesty over edgy yet approachable rock instrumentation sent the track to #1 on the U.S. Alternative Airplay chart and earned two Grammy Awards in 1996 – Best Rock Song and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. “You Oughta Know” opens with Morissette’s voice over a snare shuffle and the stark arrangement fixes the spotlight squarely on the song’s potent,  emotionally charged words. Those lyrics are of a scorned lover expressing bitterness, highlighting specific memories of the former relationship, and indulging in vengeful fantasy scenarios.

Such confessional candor – more commonly associated with mellower singer-songwriter fare – is married to raw, post-grunge power and aggression in a manner that was absolutely groundbreaking for the time.  At the 18-second mark, Morissette’s powerhouse voice and that spare shuffle beat that began the song are joined by a pulsing bass, shimmery tremolo-heavy guitar, and subtle synth. 37 seconds in, things get a bit more intense as the arrangement gets denser, the individual parts more complex, and gruff distortion gets added to the guitar. By the time we reach the first go-round of the iconic chorus, things are about as far from the simple, quiet start of the song as possible – bombastic, bold, and *loud*.  For the song, Morissette is joined by an all-star group of musicians including Flea on bass, Dave Navarro on guitar, “You Oughta Know” co-writer and producer Glen Ballard handling keyboard duties and additional guitar work, the legendary Benmont Tench on organ, and powerhouse Matt Laug bashing away at the drums. The end result – showcasing Flea’s virtuoso style, Navarro’s wah-heavy six-string gymnastics, Morrissette’s impressively authentic performance – is a scathing, at-times explicit, and unapologetic hard rocking anthem that remains very much in the public consciousness nearly 30 years since its release. While common perception paints “You Oughta Know” as a “revenge song,” Morissette, herself, pushes back against that assessment: "The context is important," she has said. "I didn't know that many people would be hearing the song. I didn't think the whole planet would be hearing it. I was writing it so I didn't get sick. I was writing it to get it out of my body, the same way I would speak to a therapist or my best friend. If I didn't speak about it, I would have gotten sick. It was very cathartic." The singer’s catharsis yielded an unapologetic, potent earworm of a track that channels personal pain through the distorted guitars, booming drums, and pissed-off attitude of mid-‘90s rock in a way that was innovative back then and truly legendary now.

Known for their boundary-pushing blend of rock and electronica, AWOLNATION really leans into their hard rock aesthetic on the pounding, relentless rocker, “Cannonball” from the L.A.-based band’s third album, Here Comes the Runts. Frontman Aaron Bruno says, “I think I hit a wall when it comes to electronic sounds, I became bored and a little uninspired by playing them. So I wanted to go back to my roots, and my love for guitar and rock and roll music.” That love shines through in spades on this spiky, insistent track. Beginning with Bruno’s voice repeating the main lyrical figure accompanied only by repetitively strummed fizzy guitar, a rat-tat-tat from the snare at the 14-second mark announces the arrival of some hand-clap percussion. Full instrumentation kicks in about 13 seconds later with a repeating drum tattoo that mimics and compliments the nonstop nature of the rhythm guitar, pulsating bass, twinkly synth, and ping-ponging backing vocals. The contrast of dry, in-your-face singing with reverb drenched choral vocals throughout makes for an overall vibe akin to a bubblegum punk band tearing through an energetic live performance set in a cathedral. While “Cannonball”’s structure relies heavily on repetition from start to finish, the break at 1:33 provides a contrast to the rest of the song – including a nifty, fuzzed out lead guitar line supporting plaintive lyrics.A fiery snare fill at 2:05 marks the end of the bridge and a return to the repeated chorus. As for the words being sung during the track’s main refrain? Catchy and playful, to be sure, but certainly more than a little raunchy! But what’s attitude-rich hard rock without a little raunch? A “bandleader” in a very comprehensive sense, in addition to penning each track on Here Comes the Ruts, Bruno also handles vocals, guitar, synthesizer, drums, and percussion work. The L.A. based rock band is rounded out by Isaac Carpenter behind the drum kit, Zach Irons handling guitar duties, and Daniel Saslow on keyboard. What we get with “Cannonball” is a little more than three minutes of raw, aggressive, and gloriously weird alt-rock/pop – just as Aaron Bruno hoped: “With this record I really wanted to make a rock n’ roll/pop album. And I say ‘pop’ how I grew up listening to it.” Mission accomplished!

AWOLNATION “Cannonball” is featured in the Season 32 Pass. Pick it up today and enjoy the entire season of DLC. Both songs are available for $1.99 each.

  • Alanis Morissette – “You Oughta Know”
  • AWOLNATION – “Cannonball”

VIDEO: Rock Band 4 DLC Week of 6/15: Alanis Morissette “You Oughta Know” and AWOLNATION “Cannonball”



*Please note that this week’s DLC tracks will be available for purchase on Thursday, June 15th.