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Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinéad O'Connor

Album: I Do Not Want What I Haven't GotReleased: 1990Charted:
  • Prince wrote this song. A live version he did with Rosie Gaines appears on his 1993 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 Hot 100 for four 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 that she 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 of materialism in the music industry.
  • Director John Maybury 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 Sinéad cried In the video, it was a real tear. In the Rolling Stone Top 500 songs issue, she said, "I didn't intend for that moment to happen, but when it did, I thought, 'I should let this happen.'"

    She told The Daily Telegraph in 2014 that the tear was triggered because she associated the song's lyrics of love and loss with her mother, who was killed in a car accident in 1985.
  • 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, Sinéad'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?' Sinéad 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, as evidenced by her Grammy win for Best Alternative Music Performance.
  • 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."

    The Jacksons beat him out as the first 2 chart with a "2 U" title; their song "Nothin (That Compares 2 U)" went to #77 US in 1989. That one was written by Babyface and L.A. Reid.
  • This was produced by Beresford Romeo (Jazzie B.) and Nellee Hooper, two members of the group Soul II Soul.
  • It was Sinéad 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. Sinéad 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.
  • Aretha Franklin covered this for her 2014 album, Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics. Her version was produced by Andre 3000, who gives it a classic jazz feel. Aretha's longtime collaborator, Clive Davis, has known the Outkast rapper since he was 17, and that friendship led to his involvement. "He said his dream is to produce a cut or two for the great Aretha Franklin," said Davis.
  • Sinéad O'Connor announced in March 2015 that she will not be performing this song anymore. The Irish songstress explained: "The first principle of the manner in which I'm trained as a singer (Bel Canto) is we never sing a song we don't emotionally identify with. After twenty-five years of singing it, nine months or so ago I finally ran out of anything I could use in order to bring some emotion to it."

    "I don't want audiences to be disappointed coming along to a show and then not hearing it, so am letting you know here that you won't. If I were to sing it just to please people, I wouldn't be doing my job right, because my job is to be emotionally available. I'd be lying. You'd be getting a lie."
  • Madonna performed this song at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards in tribute to Prince. She was then joined by Stevie Wonder for a rendition of "Purple Rain."
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Comments: 23

I was a teenager in Russia. We didn't understand what was she singing about, we were just mesmerized by her beauty, the expressions of her face, her voice and the music. She was awesome, we couldn't take our eyes off her.Tash - Ireland
Price originally recorded this with a group called The Family.Mel - Uk
The rare original version by the Family I accidentally found: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8hlKKMjAfcJacob - Phoenix, Az
I agree with Carrie. I haven't seen the video of this song for many years and watching it, I was just memorized by her face. This video, hair cut and all, really does make her look stunningly beautiful.Lou - Omaha, Ne
As A personal view, I think that if, as I did, you know the song first and for a long time inSinead's version, prince's version is really a very big let down. hard for it not to be as nothing compares to what U know and hear first if it's simply superb.Alistair - Daventry, United Kingdom
While Sinead claims the moment where she cried just happened the director of the video said she was great actress. He claimed she cried on queue more than once during the shoot. I know who I'd beleivePjironed - Dublin, Ireland
If she didn't want to be noticed for her beauty, then she failed miserably. If anything, her stunning features were more noticeable when she cut her hair.Carrie - Roanoke, Va
there are times when ther's a remake of a song. Although I'm not a big fan of Sinead Oconnor, I think her version captures the very essence of the song. Prince's version ( i mean he wrote and recorded it) lacks the emotion Sinead put into her version.Billy - West Unity, Oh
While the Sinead version is truly beautiful, I get more meaning out of the one Prince recorded with Rosie Gaines - as a duet, you're seeing both sides of a couple struggling with each other's flaws. Best line, "I know that living with *me* baby is sometimes hard," showing you know that you share the blame in what went down. In Sinead's version, it's changed to "I know that living with *you* baby is sometimes hard," which while poignant, isn't as deep IMO as being able to admit you miss the other person, AND you're to blame.

Still, both versions bring a tear to my eye.
Stu - Philly, Pa
it was first sung by a male, so originally the 'mama' adressed to the lost girlfriend.

jan, holland
Jan - Ossendrecht, Netherlands
Its hard to believe that she butchered her own career with an appearance on "Saturday Night Live", when she sang an a cappella song, then ripped up a picture of the Pope at the end. Her career had never been the same-Kristin - Bessemer, Al
It's difficult to remember now the image of Sinead O'Connor prior to the controversial television appearances that nearly brought down her career, but few pop performers have put together more powerful heart-stopping performances than this. The song itself, written by Prince, is outstanding, but Sinead's emotional, gutsy performance made it a classic. Painful loss meets stunning vocal beauty with a perfectly understated instrumental arrangement.Bertrand - Paris, France
caitlyn, the lyrics "All the flowers that you planted mama, in the backyard, All died when you went away," relate to her mothers life; the flowers represented her life and when she died they went away. they were an image of her mother because she planted them. atleast thats what i think.

Dan, Cornwall, England
Daniel - Truro, England
Sinead shaved her hair in response to the record company telling her to grow it longer to be more appealing.Dana - Charlotte, Nc
Caitlyn, Sinead sang that lyric and was crying in the video because she was thinking of her dead mother.Matthew - Dalton, Pa
Ha ha! I can see you're point, Harriet.Angel - Somewhere In, Az
This song is clearly about giving up smoking. Listen to the lyrics and you will see what I am talking about...Harriet - Birmingham, England
Excellent song. Sing along will ya?Matthew - East Brunswick, Nj
What a song. Blew me away when I first heard it.beautifulStefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
Its such a understandable lyric, even considering its loose metaphors. Read between the lines. - Also, your address is not 'Brooklyn and Long Island'. I don't say I'm from Australia and the world.Xavier - Melbourne, Australia
It might mean that the memories of her mother are nearly gone.Alex - New Orleans, La
these lyrics dont make sense at the end. "All the flowers that you planted mama, in the backyard,
All died when you went away," Whats with that?
Caitlyn - Brooklyn And Long Island Ny, United States
Song was originally recorded by The Family, a group on Prince's Paisley Park label. The single and the LP that contained it sank without a trace.Brad Wind - Miami, Fl
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