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"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 Sinéad 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.

"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
GenreAlternative pop[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

Contents

BackgroundEdit

In 1985, The Family, a funk band created as an outlet to release more of Prince's music, released their only album, 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!.

Critical receptionEdit

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 Sinéad'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 performanceEdit

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. 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; 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.

Music videoEdit

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

ConceptEdit

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." [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 compared 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.

ReceptionEdit

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.[6]

O'Connor's relationship with PrinceEdit

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 versionEdit

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] The song was later included as the final track on Prince's 2019 posthumous compilation Originals, which contains a multitude of demo recordings Prince had made for other artists such as the Bangles and Kenny Rogers.

LegacyEdit

  • It was included at number 165 by Rolling Stone in its list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[12]
  • In 2007, VH1 ranked O'Connor's rendition number 10 of the "100 Greatest Songs of the 90s".[13]
  • In September 2010 Pitchfork Media included the song at number 37 on their Top 200 Tracks of the 90s.[14]
  • The song was listed at number 77 on Billboard's "Greatest Songs of All Time".[15]
  • TIME magazine included "Nothing Compares 2 U" in its 2011 (unranked) list of "All-TIME 100 Songs".[16]
  • The song was simulcast on radio stations throughout the United States to commemorate Prince 15 days after his death. The simulcast was timed to reflect the song's opening lyric: "It's been 7 hours and 15 days since you took your love away."[17]
  • 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!!!"[18] 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.[19]

Track listingsEdit

Credits and personnelEdit

ChartsEdit

Ireland chart historyEdit

"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, Sinéad O'Connor was replaced by "Love Shack" by The B-52s. The song left the chart on March 29, after twelve weeks.

UK chart historyEdit

Having entered the UK top 40 at number 30 on January 20, 1990, the song jumped to number three 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 number two 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 historyEdit

The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 US top 40 in the issue dated March 24, 1990 at number 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, it dropped to number two, replaced by Madonna's "Vogue". "Nothing Compares 2 U" spent 15 weeks in the US top 40, concluding on June 30.

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[45] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[58] Platinum 30,000*
Germany (BVMI)[59] Gold 250,000^
Sweden (GLF)[60] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[61] Platinum 600,000^
United States (RIAA)[62] Platinum 1,000,000^

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

Release historyEdit

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)

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  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. ^ "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone (963). December 9, 2004. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
  13. ^ 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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  14. ^ "Staff Lists: The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s: 50-21 | Features". Pitchfork. 2010-09-02. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  15. ^ [1] Archived October 1, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "'Tightrope' | 100 Greatest Popular Songs: TIME List of Best Music | TIME.com". Entertainment.time.com. 2011-10-21. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  17. ^ "Billboard | Prince's 'Nothing Compares 2 U' Will Be Simulcast on Radio Stations Nationwide on Wednesday". Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  18. ^ "CHRIS CORNELL: 'PRINCE's Music Is The Soundtrack To The Soulful And Beautiful Universe He Created'". 22 April 2016.
  19. ^ "Chris Cornell and his daughter cover Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U": Stream". 17 June 2018.
  20. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Prince-Nothing-Compares-2-U/release/11894106
  21. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  22. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  23. ^ "Ultratop.be – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  24. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 9051." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  25. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 9135." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  26. ^ "Top 3 Denmark" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  27. ^ Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-31-2503-3.
  28. ^ "Lescharts.com – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U" (in French). Les classement single.
  29. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  30. ^ "Íslenski Listinn (1990)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  31. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Nothing Compares 2 U". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  32. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 7, 1990" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  33. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  34. ^ "Charts.nz – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U". Top 40 Singles.
  35. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U". VG-lista.
  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. ^ "Listy bestsellerów, wyróżnienia :: Związek Producentów Audio-Video". Polish Airplay Top 100. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
  44. ^ "Danishcharts.com – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U". Tracklisten.
  45. ^ a b "ARIA Charts – End Of Year Charts – Top 50 Singles 1990". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  46. ^ "Jahreshitparade Singles 1990" (in German). Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  47. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1990" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  48. ^ "RPM Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1990". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  49. ^ "RPM Top 100 Adult Contemporary Tracks of 1990". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  50. ^ "Top 100 Single – Jahreschart 1990" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  51. ^ "Single top 100 over 1990" (PDF) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
  52. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1990" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  53. ^ "End of Year Charts 1990". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  54. ^ "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1990" (in German). Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  55. ^ "1990 Top 100 Singles". Music Week. London, England: Spotlight Publications. March 2, 1991. p. 41.
  56. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1990". Billboardtop100of.com. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  57. ^ 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. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  58. ^ "Austrian single certifications – Sinéad O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U" (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  59. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Sinéad O'Connor; 'Nothing Compares 2 U')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  60. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  61. ^ "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.
  62. ^ "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.