Sometimes it’s the combination that creates a classic. The song by itself? Good, but almost entirely unknown. The singer on her own? Good, but not exactly a household name.
Ah, but together?
Sinead O’Connor burst onto the alternative rock scene in 1987, and quickly gained the attention of college radio and her fellow musicians with her unique voice and striking appearance. For her sophomore album, 1990’s I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, O’Connor decided to cover a song suggested by her manager called “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
The freakishly prolific and tireless Prince wrote this song in 1985 for The Family, one of his many, many side projects. Along with writing his own #1 album that year, he also composed every song for The Family’s sole record, a minor success on the R&B charts. “Nothing Compares 2 U” wasn’t even released as a single, but Sinead’s manager wisely recognized the special qualities contained within the track and convinced her to record it.
O’Connor’s haunting, crystalline vocal, paired with the Prince-ness of Prince’s song, stormed hearts and charts across the world in 1990, helped in part by an iconic, full eye contact music video. Sinead’s unplanned tears at the end perfectly captured the emotion she imbued in the song, partly for lost love, and partly for her lost mother who had died five years before.
So have a box of tissues nearby as you listen to one of the saddest songs ever to hit #1. What? Me? No, I’m not crying. This is face condensation.