Nothing Compares 2 U

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"Nothing Compares 2 U"
Single cover
Single by Sinéad O'Connor
from the album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got
B-side"Jump In The River"
ReleasedJanuary 8, 1990
  • 5:10
Sinéad O'Connor singles chronology
"Jump in the River"
"Nothing Compares 2 U"
"The Emperor's New Clothes"
Audio sample
Sinéad O'Connor's version of "Nothing Compares 2 U" (in which she changes the first line of the song from "13 days" to "15 days") from I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got
Music video
"Nothing Compares 2 U" on YouTube

"Nothing Compares 2 U" is a song written and composed by Prince for one of his side projects, The Family, for the eponymous album The Family. It was later made famous by Irish recording artist Sinead O'Connor, whose arrangement was released as the second single from her second studio album, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got. This version, which O'Connor co-produced with Nellee Hooper, became a worldwide hit in 1990. Its music video received heavy rotation on MTV. Its lyrics explore feelings of longing from the point of view of an abandoned lover.


In 1985, The Family, a funk band created as an outlet to release more of Prince's music, released their first and only album, the self-titled The Family. "Nothing Compares 2 U" appeared on the album but it was not released as a single, and received little recognition.

Prince performed the song as a live duet with Rosie Gaines, subsequently released on his 1993 compilations The Hits/The B-Sides and The Hits 1, and the 2006 Ultimate Prince compilation. Prince also recorded a solo version of the song for his concert film, Rave Un2 the Year 2000, as well as for his 2002 live album, One Nite Alone... Live!

Critical reception[edit]

Dave Sholin from the Gavin Report wrote about the song:

A few times each year a song comes along that deserves extra-special recognition. Here's the first such entry of 1990. Since I've been shouting the praises of Sinead's remarkable interpretation of this Prince-penned tune to many of you for over a month, it was safe to assume it would eventually end up on this page. Absolutely brilliant—and if you haven't caught the video, do yourself a favor and check it out NOW![2]

Commercial performance[edit]

O'Connor's power ballad[3] version of the song became a worldwide hit, topping charts in O'Connor's native Ireland, Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It also became a top-five single in France and a top-20 in Denmark. The single was certified platinum in Austria and the United Kingdom, and gold in Germany and Sweden.

In the United States it spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, keeping Jane Child's "Don't Wanna Fall In Love" from reaching the top spot for three of them; in addition, it was a number-one in Billboard Alternative Songs chart, and reached number two on Billboard Adult Contemporary chart (held off the top position by "This Old Heart of Mine" by Rod Stewart for three weeks). It became the third best-selling single of 1990, the 82nd best-selling single of the 1990s, and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in April 1990. The song's popularity sent I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got to the top of the Billboard 200 where it stayed for six consecutive weeks.

Music video[edit]

The lone face of O'Connor made the video one of the most recognisable of the 1990s.


Directed by John Maybury, the clip consists mostly of a closeup on Sinéad O'Connor's face and her different stages of sadness and even anger as she sings the lyrics; the rest consists of her walking through an area of Paris known as the Parc de Saint-Cloud. Toward the end of the video, two tears roll down her face, one on each cheek. O'Connor has stated that her tears were real. She did not intend to cry but then thought "I should let this happen." [4] She explained that the tears were triggered by thoughts of her mother who died in a car accident in 1985.[4] She said she learned to channel her emotions with the "bel canto" singing style, which she compares to extreme acting methods.[5] In the middle and at the very end of the video there is a shot from O'Connor's photo session for the I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got album cover.


The clip won three "Moonmen" at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards: Video of the Year (O'Connor became the first female artist to be awarded with it), Best Female Video and Best Post-Modern Video. It was nominated for Breakthrough Video, Viewer's Choice and International Viewer's Choice during the ceremony. The video also became the subject for many parodies and spoofs, such as Gina Riley's parody "Nothing Is There" on Fast Forward, referring to the fact that O'Connor tended to shave her head bald.[6]

O'Connor's relationship with Prince[edit]

Speaking about her relationship with Prince in an interview with Norwegian station NRK in November 2014 O'Connor said,

I did meet him a couple of times. We didn't get on at all. In fact, we had a punch-up. ... He summoned me to his house after 'Nothing Compares 2 U.' I made it without him. I'd never met him. He summoned me to his house—and it's foolish to do this to an Irish woman—he said he didn't like me saying bad words in interviews. So I told him to fuck off. ... He got quite violent. I had to escape out of his house at five in the morning. He packed a bigger punch than mine.[7]

Prince version[edit]

Prince released his own rendition of "Nothing Compares 2 U", with Rosie Gaines on guest vocals. This live version of the song was included on his 1993 compilation album, The Hits/The B-Sides. His version reached #62 on the R&B chart in early 1994.[8] Prince's original 1984 recording of the song was not released until 2018, when it was issued as a single by Warner Bros. Records in conjunction with his estate.[9] In addition, the Prince version was given its own music video, released in conjunction with the studio recording on April 19, 2018; the video consists of edited rehearsal footage shot in the summer of 1984.[10][11]


  • In 2007, VH1 ranked O'Connor's rendition number 10 of the "100 Greatest Songs of the 90s".[12]
  • In September 2010 Pitchfork Media included the song at number 37 on their Top 200 Tracks of the 90s.[13]
  • The song was listed at number 77 on Billboard's "Greatest Songs of All Time".[14]
  • TIME magazine included "Nothing Compares 2 U" in its 2011 (unranked) list of "All-TIME 100 Songs".[15]
  • The song was simulcasted on radio stations throughout the United States to commemorate Prince 13 days after his death. The simulcast was timed to line up with the opening lyrics of Prince's version of the song, "It's been 7 hours and 13 days, since you took your love away." [16]
  • Chris Cornell posted a link to his version on the day after Prince's death. In an accompanying message, he wrote: "Prince’s music is the soundtrack to the soulful and beautiful universe he created, and we have all been privileged to be part of that amazing world. I performed his song 'Nothing Compares 2 U' for the first time a couple months ago. It has a timeless relevance for me and practically everyone I know. Sadly, now his own lyrics in this song could not be more relevant than at this moment, and I sing them now in reverence as I pay tribute to this unequaled artist who has given all of our lives so much inspiration and made the world so much more interesting. We will miss you Prince!!!"[17] On Father's Day in 2018, Cornell's daughter Toni released a version of the song she recorded with her dad before his death in 2017.[18]

Track listings[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[44] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[54] Platinum 30,000*
Germany (BVMI)[55] Gold 250,000^
Sweden (GLF)[56] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[57] Platinum 600,000^
United States (RIAA)[58] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Release date
United Kingdom 8 January 1990 (1990-01-08)
Worldwide 4 February 1990 (1990-02-04)
United States 11 February 1990 (1990-02-11)


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  3. ^ "The 21 best power ballads".
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