Nothing Compares 2 U
|"Nothing Compares 2 U"|
|Single by Sinéad O'Connor|
|from the album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got|
|B-side||"Jump In The River"|
|Released||January 8, 1990|
|Sinéad O'Connor singles chronology|
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
"Nothing Compares 2 U" is a song written and composed by Prince for The Family and the song was featured on their 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.
- 1 Background
- 2 Critical reception
- 3 Commercial performance
- 4 Music video
- 5 O'Connor's relationship with Prince
- 6 Prince version
- 7 Legacy
- 8 Track listings
- 9 Credits and personnel
- 10 Charts
- 11 Certifications
- 12 Release history
- 13 References
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 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 compilation Ultimate Prince. He also recorded a solo version for his concert film Rave Un2 the Year 2000, as well as for his 2002 live album One Nite Alone... Live!.
Dave Sholin from the Gavin Report wrote of 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!
O'Connor's power ballad 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. It 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 number one on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart and reached number two on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart (held off the top position by Rod Stewart's "This Old Heart of Mine" for three weeks). It became the third best-selling single of 1990 and 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.
Directed by John Maybury, the video consists mostly of a closeup on Sinéad O'Connor's face as she goes through stages of sadness and anger while singing the lyrics; the rest consists of her walking through the Parc de Saint-Cloud in Paris. Toward the end of the video, two tears roll down her face, one on each cheek. O'Connor has said that her tears were real. She did not intend to cry but then thought, "I should let this happen."  She explained that the tears were triggered by thoughts of her mother, who died in a car accident in 1985. She said she learned to channel her emotions with the "bel canto" singing style, which she compared to extreme acting methods. 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 was the first female artist to be awarded 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 was also the subject of 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.
O'Connor's relationship with Prince
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.
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. 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. 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.
- In 2007, VH1 ranked O'Connor's rendition number 10 of the "100 Greatest Songs of the 90s".
- In September 2010 Pitchfork Media included the song at number 37 on their Top 200 Tracks of the 90s.
- The song was listed at number 77 on Billboard's "Greatest Songs of All Time".
- TIME magazine included "Nothing Compares 2 U" in its 2011 (unranked) list of "All-TIME 100 Songs".
- The song was simulcast on radio stations throughout the United States to commemorate Prince 13 days after his death. The simulcast was timed to reflect the song's opening lyric: "It's been 7 hours and 13 days since you took your love away."
- Chris Cornell posted a link to his version 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!!!" On Father's Day 2018, Cornell's daughter Toni released a version of the song she recorded with her dad before his death in 2017.
Credits and personnel
Nothing Compares 2 U
Jump in the River
Ireland chart history
"Nothing Compares 2 U" entered the Irish singles chart on January 11 1990, reaching number one two weeks later. After a six-week run at the top, Sinead O'Connor was replaced by "Love Shack" by The B-52s. The song left the chart on March 29 after twelve weeks.
UK chart history
Having entered the UK top 40 at no.30 on January 20 1990, the song jumped 27 places to no.3 the following week. "Nothing Compares 2 U" rose to number one for four weeks, holding off a twin challenge from dance acts Technotronic and Black Box in the process. Finally, the song fell to no.2 on March 3, replaced by "Dub Be Good to Me" by Beats International. Altogether, "Nothing Compares 2 U" enjoyed a twelve-week run in the UK top 40, departing on April 7.
US chart history
Sinead O'Connor entered the Billboard Hot 100 US top 40 on March 24 1990 at no.33. "Nothing Compares 2 U" rose steadily over the next four weeks - aided by the song's video gaining increasing exposure on MTV - before reaching number one on April 21. As in the UK, the song spent four weeks at the top, despite competition from Jane Child ("Don't Wanna Fall in Love") and Calloway (band) ("I Wanna Be Rich"). Finally, Sinead O'Connor dropped to no.2, replaced by Madonna's "Vogue". In total, "Nothing Compares 2 U" spent 15 weeks in the US top 40, concluding on June 30.
|Australia (ARIA)||2× Platinum||140,000^|
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||Platinum||30,000*|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||600,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
|United Kingdom||8 January 1990|
|Worldwide||4 February 1990|
|United States||11 February 1990|
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