Nothing Compares 2 U

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"Nothing Compares 2 U"
Nothingcompares2u.jpg
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
Format
GenrePop[1]
Length
  • 5:10
LabelChrysalis
Songwriter(s)Prince
Producer(s)
Sinéad O'Connor singles chronology
"Jump in the River"
(1988)
"Nothing Compares 2 U"
(1990)
"The Emperor's New Clothes"
(1990)
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.

Background[edit]

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.

Concept[edit]

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.

Reception[edit]

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]

Legacy[edit]

  • 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]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[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)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gilbert, Sophie (April 21, 2015). "How 'Nothing Compares 2 U' Endured". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  2. ^ Sholin, Dave (March 9, 1990). "Gavin Picks > Singles" (PDF). Gavin Report. No. 1797. p. 52. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  3. ^ "The 21 best power ballads".
  4. ^ a b "Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinéad O'Connor Songfacts". www.songfacts.com.
  5. ^ Laurence, Rebecca. "Prince's heartbreaking song about loss".
  6. ^ "Gina Riley - Nothing is There!!! From Fast Forward". YouTube. 2009-04-21. Retrieved 2016-09-01.
  7. ^ Kelly, Aoife (2014-11-18). "'I told him to f*** off' - Sinéad O'Connor reveals she had punch-up with Prince". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  8. ^ "BROWN, Ruth" (PDF). www.recordresearch.com. Retrieved April 26, 2018.[better source needed]
  9. ^ "Listen to Prince's Original Version of "Nothing Compares 2 U"". Pitchfork. April 19, 2018. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  10. ^ "Prince - Nothing Compares 2 U [OFFICIAL VIDEO]". YouTube. April 19, 2018.
  11. ^ Miller, Matt (April 19, 2018). "Prince's Only Recording of 'Nothing Compares 2 U' Has Finally Been Released. It's Incredible". Esquire. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  12. ^ Breaking Dawn Soundtrack: Posted (2007-12-13). "Top 100 Songs of the '90s | VH1 Blog". Blog.vh1.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  13. ^ "Staff Lists: The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s: 50-21 | Features". Pitchfork. 2010-09-02. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  14. ^ [1] Archived October 1, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ "'Tightrope' | 100 Greatest Popular Songs: TIME List of Best Music | TIME.com". Entertainment.time.com. 2011-10-21. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  16. ^ "Billboard | Prince's 'Nothing Compares 2 U' Will Be Simulcast on Radio Stations Nationwide on Wednesday". Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  17. ^ "CHRIS CORNELL: 'PRINCE's Music Is The Soundtrack To The Soulful And Beautiful Universe He Created'". 22 April 2016.
  18. ^ "Chris Cornell and his daughter cover Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U": Stream". 17 June 2018.
  19. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  20. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  21. ^ "Ultratop.be – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  22. ^ "Ultratop.be – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  23. ^ "Adult Contemporary - Volume 51, No. 25, May 05 1990". RPM. Archived from the original on September 6, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  24. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 51, No. 25, May 05 1990". RPM. Archived from the original on September 6, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  25. ^ "Top 3 Denmark" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  26. ^ Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-31-2503-3.
  27. ^ "Lescharts.com – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U" (in French). Les classement single.
  28. ^ "Top 100 single" (in German). charts.de. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  29. ^ "Íslenski Listinn (1990)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  30. ^ "Irish Singles Chart – Search for song". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  31. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Sinéad O'Connor" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  32. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  33. ^ "Charts.nz – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U". Top 40 Singles.
  34. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U". VG-lista.
  35. ^ "Listy bestsellerów, wyróżnienia :: Związek Producentów Audio-Video". Polish Airplay Top 100. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
  36. ^ "Top 3 Portugal" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  37. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U". Singles Top 100.
  38. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U". Swiss Singles Chart.
  39. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  40. ^ "Sinéad O'Connor Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  41. ^ "Sinéad O'Connor Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard.
  42. ^ "Sinéad O'Connor Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  43. ^ "Danishcharts.com – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U". Tracklisten.
  44. ^ a b "ARIA End Of Year Singles 1990". Australian Recording Industry Association. 1991. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  45. ^ 1990 Austrian Singles Chart Austriancharts.at Archived December 17, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. (Retrieved September 3, 2008)
  46. ^ "Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1990". RPM. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
  47. ^ "Single top 100 over 1990" (PDF) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
  48. ^ "Top 100 Single-Jahreschart" (in German). offiziellecharts.de. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  49. ^ "End of Year Charts 1990". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  50. ^ 1990 Swiss Singles Chart Hitparade.ch Archived February 1, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. (Retrieved September 3, 2008)
  51. ^ Music Week End of year Charts, 1990. pub.January 1991
  52. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1990". Archived from the original on 2010-01-17. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
  53. ^ Geoff Mayfield (December 25, 1999). 1999 The Year in Music Totally '90s: Diary of a Decade - The listing of Top Pop Albums of the '90s & Hot 100 Singles of the '90s. Billboard. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
  54. ^ "Austrian single certifications – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U" (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved October 4, 2013. Enter Sinéad O'Connor in the field Interpret. Enter Nothing Compares 2 U in the field Titel. Select single in the field Format. Click Suchen. 
  55. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Sinéad O'Connor; 'Nothing Compares 2 U')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  56. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  57. ^ "British single certifications – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved October 4, 2013. Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Nothing Compares 2 U in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  58. ^ "American single certifications – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved October 4, 2013. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.