"21 Things I Want in a Lover" is a alternative rock song written by Alanis Morissette, and produced by her for her sixth album, Under Rug Swept (2002). The song features guitarist Dean DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots.
Morissette said that she is joking in one part of the song, but in another she's "dead serious. The more aware of the qualities I am looking for, the more I'm able to recognize them when they appear, as opposed to having the initial meeting romantically be singularly dependent on chemical reaction or some intangible, indefinable, heart-palpitating, palm- sweating thing ... [that] often result[s] in a huge amount of incompatibility, so the concept of compatibility is so much more important to me as I get older." According to her, the song does not mention every quality she desires in a lover; she said she had "like 673 things" on her list, and that "It has to be updated after every guy."
Release and reception
magazine said the song contained "a trampoline-bouncing guitar riff
to detract attention from lyrics packed tighter than a holiday suitcase. Robert Christgau
wrote, "Morissette instantly demonstrates her gift for the catchy, crunching out a guitar riff and then revealing 21 'not necessarily needs but things that I prefer' in a lover. Stretching out il-lu-si-on and for-med to suit scansion or mood, opposing capital punishment and coming out for sex 'more than three times a week,' topping memorable verse with indelible chorus, she's a self-actualized nut who goes for what she wants, exactly as pretentious as the college girls she represents for. The LA Weekly
called it "a wholly satisfying pop-rocker [that] launches the album with her laundry-list lyric style", and Rolling Stone
characterised it as a "power-chorded personal ad".
"21 Things I Want in a Lover" was released to radio and television as the third single from Under Rug Swept in Brazil. It entered the Brasil Top 100 Singles chart in mid-November 2002 and reached number forty-eight, its peak, at the end of the month; it remained on the chart for eight weeks, until early January 2003. It was the first single from the album not to reach the top forty. The music video for the single comprises clips from the DVD release Feast on Scraps; some of these are from a performance of the song at Ahoy in Rotterdam, Netherlands on August 13 2002, during Morissette's Toward Our Union Mended Tour. The video premiered on [[Channel V|Channel [V] International]] in Malaysia on November 2, and on MTV Brazil on November 20.