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Prince wrote this song. He did a live version with Rosie Gaines on his album Hits.
Prince originally wrote this for The Family, a band that was signed to his Paisley Park record label. The song was inspired by a member who had just broken up with his girlfriend. The Family was made up of former members of The Time, and they released only one album.
This was a #1 hit in 17 countries. In the US, it was the #1 song of 1990, topping the charts for 4 weeks.
O'Connor released her first album three years earlier. It got a lot of play on college radio, earning her a small, but devoted fan base. This song thrust her into the spotlight, and the attention had some deleterious effects on the singer. O'Connor claimed she hated the fame the song brought her, and struggled with the commercialization of her music. "Nothing Compares 2 U" earned her a Grammy for Best Alternative Performance, but she refused to appear on the awards show in protest.
The director shot a lot of footage around Paris for the video, but ended up using just a simple tight shot of O'Connor singing. It was the first time most people saw what she looked like and were surprised that she was bald. She shaved her head when she first started recording because she wanted to make a statement and not be known for her beauty.
When Sinead cried In the video it was a real tear. In the Rolling Stone Top 500 songs issue, she said of the tear she shed in the video, "I didn't intend for that moment to happen, but when it did, I thought, 'I should let this happen.'" (thanks, Jade - London, England)
Chris Hill, the co-director of O'Connor's label Ensign, recalled to Mojo magazine January 2009 the first time he heard this song: "Fachtna O'Kelly, Sinead's manager, brought in a cassette and when I heard it I actually started crying. I just sat there with tears in my eyes."
Then O'Kelly rang up Sinead OConnor and went, 'Chris is crying.' 'Was it that bad?' Sinead asked.
This was O'Connor's last big hit. She turned off a lot of people with her political statements, which included refusing to let the National Anthem be played before a concert in New Jersey and tearing up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live.
In 1998, MTV named this #34 on their list of the greatest videos ever made.
Although this was a mainstream hit, O'Connor was considered an "Alternative" artist at the time. The album won the 1990 Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance. She boycotted the awards show to protest materialism in the music industry.
The "2 U" in the title is a Prince thing. He has songs called "I would die 4 U" and "If I Love U 2 Nite."
This was produced by Beresford Romeo (Jazzie B.) and Nellee Hooper, 2 members of the group Soul II Soul.
It was Sinead O'Connor's manager, Fachtna O'Kelly, who came up with the idea for the Irish singer to cover the Prince song.
The video for Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball
" also contained some very tight shots of the singer's face, and also a tear, which Cyrus claimed was shed for her recently departed dog. Speaking with Rolling Stone
, Cyrus said, "It's like the Sinead O'Connor video, but, like, the most modern version."
This quote, which didn't even make the magazine (it was posted on the web), set in motion a feud between the singers, with O'Connor publishing what she called an "open letter" on her website, warning Cyrus about the dangers of her career path. Cyrus responded with a Tweet that simply said "Before Amanda Bynes.... There was....", a reference to O'Connor's past mental health issues.
The confrontation illuminated some of the strange parallels between the singers:
- Both shaved their heads. Sinead did it so she couldn't be marketed for her looks; Miley so she could establish her style and blend in.
- Cyrus was a favorite on Saturday Night Live
, and hosted the show the week after the feud. O'Connor was banned from the show after her first appearance.
- Their tearful songs were their first #1 hits, but both were written by others. O'Connor's song was written by Prince, Cyrus' by a team of five professional writer/producers.
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"When seeds that you sow grow by the wicked moon/Be sure your sins will find you out/Your past will hunt you down and turn to tell on you."