I was driving home from work today when the song Ironic by Alanis Morissette started playing on the radio. Just about anyone I know is quick to point out that the song lacks actual examples of irony. Yet, as I listened to the song, I noticed that every single piece of the song was very close to being ironic, it just lacked that last inch of ironic twist. Without that twist, the lyrics in the song are as others have pointed out, bummers.
Irony is typically spoken words that convey the opposite meaning either intentionally or, in the case of a dramatic context, unintentionally. Irony is also when the outcome of a series of events is the opposite of what would be expected. In the case of Ironic, it is this last definition that was intended even though the lyrics are not ironic. This, hilariously enough, makes the entire song of Ironic, ironic. This very well may have been a big meta joke played on us by Alanis
Okay, at this point, I stand corrected. There is an actual example of irony in the song. It comes from this section:
Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
"Well isn't this nice..."
The plane crash after avoiding flying is not ironic. His statement, however, is ironic. He clearly doesn't think the plane crashing down is actually a pleasant experience. Irony!
But the rest of the song is filled with near misses. Here's another example:
A traffic jam when you're already late
There is nothing ironic about a traffic jams when you are late. When you are late, the expected situation is that you aren't going to make it on time. For this to be ironic, it would have to be hitting every light green when you are late. Alternatively, it could be ironic if a section of the highway with always congested on your commute is free of traffic on the one day you are running behind and can't make it to work on time. Those would be ironic.
My favorite example of a near miss comes from this line:
It's like rain on your wedding day
There are two ways that this could be ironic, but as it currently is stated, the line is not. It would be ironic if the rain on your wedding day happened following an unusual dry spell and with a forecast of clear skies the night before your wedding. It would also be ironic if the actual event of rain (generally assumed to be a damper on weddings) made the wedding the best day of your life. Unfortunately, the context of the song paints the rain as as simply bad weather on an otherwise important day. It simply isn't ironic.