Wednesday, December 4, 2013

#254: Sinead O'Connor-Nothing Compares 2 U (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "Nothing Compares 2 U"
Artist: Sinead O'Connor
Release Date: January, 1990
From the Album: I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got (1990)

Quick Take: Logging the highest level of chart performance for any single in 1990, Irish singer Sinéad O'Connor's cover of the Prince composition "Nothing Compares 2 U" catapulted her from a college-radio favorite into international stardom, to which she responded with passionate, controversial political stands and increasingly erratic behavior. The song had never appeared on any Prince album, but O'Connor's performance would have made it her own anyway. Backed by lush synths and a minimal, lightly swinging drum beat, she delivered the lyrics with such overwhelming sadness -- and in such a gorgeous voice -- that it was virtually impossible to listen to the song without feeling her hurt. Just as remarkable was the fact that, even though the song was something of a tearjerker, it never seemed calculated or insincere -- O'Connor was simply too convincing. This was partly because of her expert control of dynamics; she could trail off into a breathy near-sob or let loose with a heartbroken wail, all in the same line, without overdoing either end of the spectrum -- a tremendous credit to her sensitivity as an interpreter. The deeply revealing intensity of O'Connor's performance was underlined by the song's video, which consisted almost entirely of a close-up of O'Connor's face as she sang the song; this produced a startling intimacy, particularly toward the end of the video, when a genuine tear trickled down her cheek. Prince included his own live version on one of his hits collections, but while it illustrated that the song didn't necessarily have to be interpreted with complete earnestness, it didn't capture the heartbreaking intimacy that made O'Connor's take the definitive one.

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