Probably the most famous thing about the song Ironic, released by Alanis Morissette in 1995, is the fact that none of the examples of ‘irony’ are particularly ironic. They’re mostly just coincidental. It’s sort of a long running, unfunny joke. Catchy tune, though.
An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
Unlucky, but not ironic.
It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay
Irritating, not ironic.
It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late
Isn’t it ironic … don’t you think
Presumably the person you’re asking that question is now dead so they probably don’t think that, no. And even if they did, they’d be wrong.
It’s like rain on your wedding day
Again, annoying, not ironic.
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
A galling coincidence.
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought … it figures
Who would’ve thought you could get an entire song out of this… Nobody, but here it is.
Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
‘Well isn’t this nice…’
And isn’t it ironic … don’t you think
No, it’s just very sad. At a push we might put it down to fate – a sort of tenuous cosmic irony, if you like – were it not for the rest of the song, where Alanis demonstrates she knows naught of irony, cosmic or otherwise. This renders such an explanation unlikely.
Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
OK, yes, that would be the PASSAGE OF TIME you’re thinking of pet, not irony.
When you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right
Yes, sometimes things turn up and bite you in the bum, like terminal illness or a burglary or something. But that’s horrible luck, not irony.
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face
Tell that to the New Zealand miners.
It’s a traffic jam when you’re already late
Sod’s law, not irony.
It’s a no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
You would know before you started working for a company whether or not they had a no smoking policy. This isn’t irony, it’s idiocy.
It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
Ah, I see you’ve played knifey spoony before…
It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
You mean you didn’t dream her too?
And isn’t it ironic… don’t you think
A little too ironic… and yeah I really do think…