After the release of her second sophomore album "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie," Alanis Morissette seemed to disappear from the music scene altogether. Her absence went almost unnoticed with the arrival of the teen pop movement - the Spice Girls were cooling and Britney was hotting up. A lot of mature and real talented artists didn't have a place anymore as a cheesy pop album seemed to top the charts every other week. The pop scene was, as it usually is, a hit-and-miss thing, and by the dawn of 2002 rock and indie was returning. So this gave Alanis a perfect opportunity to hit back at all the critics who called the curtain on her career three years previously. In March 2002 she released her third studio album entitled "Under Rug Swept." It surpassed many expectations when it went straight to No.1 in the US and put Alanis back on top of her angst-ridden rocking pedestal. The album received rave reviews and went multi-platinum as Alanis showcased a return to her Jagged Little Pill roots that made her the 90's reigning Angry White Female.
The first single to be taken from the Under Rug Swept album was "Hands Clean." The single was a fairly big hit all over the world and peaked in the UK Top 15. Radio-wise, the song was mammoth. You couldn't go anywhere without this being played like crazy! In the song Alanis sings of a forbidden relationship she experienced when she was a teenager with a man much older than herself. It's an interesting topic and the video is superb.
Hands Clean opens with a soft and gentle guitar and Alanis begins singing the first verse with a soft voice, "If it weren't for your maturity none of this would have happened. If you weren't so wise beyond your years I would have been able to control myself. If it weren't for my attention you wouldn't have been successful and if, if it weren't for me you would have never amounted to very much." The song then picks up and Alanis sings the bridge, "Ooh, this could be messy but you don't seem to mind. Ooh, don't go telling everybody and overlook this supposed crime." Alanis then sweeps into the catchy and famous chorus, "We'll flash forward to a few years later and no one knows except the both of us. And I have honored your request for silence and you've washed your hands clean of this." Alanis then starts singing the second verse with a quiet and sweet voice, "You're essentially an employee and I like you having to depend on me. You're a kind of protégé and one day you'll say you learned all you know from me. I know you depend on me like a young thing would to a guardian. I know you sexualize me like a young thing would and I think I like it."
Alanis then sings the bridge and chorus once more, before sweeping into the best part of the song where she sings, "What part of our history's reinvented and under rug swept? What part of your memory is selective and tends to forget? What's with this distance it seems so obvious?" The song then goes all quiet again as if Alanis is whispering it as she sings, "Just make sure you don't tell on me especially to members of your family. We best keep this to ourselves and not tell any members of our inner posse. I wish I could tell the world cause you're such a pretty thing when you're done up properly. I might wanna marry you one day if you'd watch that weight and you keep your firm body." Alanis then sings that bridge again, before belting out the chorus a few more times until the song fades out. Excellent song, and it never gets old!
Hands Clean is easily one of Alanis Morissette's career highs. Her observational, conversational and confrontational lyrics are at times shocking, sometimes comforting and very relatable. Her knack for producing superb melodies only serves as a bonus and her trademark, unique vocals make her one of the greatest female artists of a modern day music. With songs like Hands Clean, it's easy to see why Alanis has a mass following and I very much look forward to her new album due for release May 2004.