257. Sinead O’Connor – ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ (1990)

“I could put my arms around every boy I see
But they’d only remind me of you”

Taken from the album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got

UK #1, AUS #1, US #1

My sister and I have this thing where if we see someone dining alone in a restaurant – or even just eating alone in a public place – it upsets us. It’s not like we break down crying or anything, but Libby (that’s my sister) can get really shaken until she’s distracted by something else. There’s probably some deep psychological reason for this, but it means that the line in ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, where Sinead sings “I could eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant, but nothing can take away these blues”, is especially heartbreaking. The image of lonely Sinead eating a lonely meal at a lonely table for one – stop it, just stop it.

‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ was written by Prince, then given to his group The Family, who released it in 1985. However it wasn’t until 1990 when a bald Irish woman called Sinead O’Connor recorded a spellbinding, sparse, spectacular (did you enjoy that?) version that went on to become one of the biggest hits of the nineties. It’s a predictable choice for my favourite Sinead song, but she really never sang a song this well written, and never gave a better vocal performance.

Prince released a version of the song in 1993, which was nice, but only proved further that this was one rare time that a Prince song belongs to another performer. There aren’t many vocalists who can pull this off convincingly, and while she may not have written the lyrics, Sinead lives and breathes them, she exudes such power with her voice that you’d never guess she hadn’t lived the exact scenario she describes.

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