Saturday, February 18, 2017

Songoftheday 2/18/17 - It's been seven hours and fifteen days since you took your love away...


"Nothin' Compares 2 U" - Sinéad O'Connor
from the album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got (1990)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (four weeks)
Weeks in the top-40: 15

Today's song of the day belongs to Irish alternative rock artist Sinéad O'Connor, who comes from the suburbs of Dublin, where she endured a troubled childhood wrecked by divorce and abuse before setting off on a musical career. The start of that career was tumultuous at first, including an unfinished album and a child at just twenty years old. But the eventual fruit of that, apart from her son Jake, was her stunning debut album The Lion And The Cobra in 1987. A nominee for a Grammy for best alternative album, the record's first single, "Troy", peaked at #8 in the Netherlands and almost reached the top-40 in the UK at #48. Her next two singles, "Mandinka" and "Put Your Hands On Me", both reached the top 20 on the American dance chart, with the former becoming her first top-40 hit in the UK at #17 as well as putting her at #6 on the singles chart in her native Ireland. In the fall of 1988, a track from the movie Married To The Mob, "Jump In The River", got Sinéad her first American radio success, going to #17 on Billboard's Modern Rock list. That song, co-written with guitarist Marco Pirroni from Adam and the Ants and Siouxsie and the Banshees, would eventually end up on her sophomore album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got. Released in 1990, the next single from the set would be a cover of an obscure track off an album from Prince-affiliated band The Family. Written by the Purple One, O'Connor's take on "Nothing Compares 2 U" slowed the tempo to a mournful crawl, as her aching voice swayed between gospel-style faith and angry depression (in the case of the title, going from one to the other in one line) as she takes her emotions out for a drive over a lost love. The music video, which mostly featured her singing and crying directly into the camera, is one of the most remembered clips of the rock era...


Sinéad's version of "Nothing Compares 2 U" topped the American pop charts for four weeks in April of 1990, one of three songs that year that spent the most weeks on top within the year. The single also spent three weeks at #2 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary (or "easy listening") radio chart, while also going to #1 for a week on their Modern Rock list and #23 on their Mainstream rock chart. Internationally, the record went to #1 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and her native Ireland. It would be nominated in 1991 for Grammys for Record of The Year (losing to Phil Collins' "Another Day In Paradise") and Female Pop Vocal (which Mariah Carey took home for "Vision Of Love"). She did get the Grammy for Alternative Rock performance for the entire album, though.

The follow-up single, the uptempo rock track "The Emperor's New Clothes", was a moderate hit around the world, hitting the top-10 in Ireland (#5) and Italy (#10), but stalled down at #60 on the American pop chart (it did manage to top the Modern Rock radio list, though). A third release, the delicate new age of "Three Babies", was a top-40 hit in Ireland (#19), Italy (#12), Switzerland (#22), and the Netherlands (#29). A 12" remix single featuring "Emperor" and album cut "I Am Stretched On Your Grave" went to #27 on the dance club play chart in Billboard.

In 1992, O'Connor came back with an album of cover versions, Am I Your Girl?, that puzzled many of her rock fans, and with the backlash from her public actions, like refusing to have the National Anthem played at a concert in New Jersey as well as her infamous "ripping the Pope" at the end of her performance on Saturday Night Live, besides her top-20 finish on her pre-SNL single "Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home", it got relatively lost in the shuffle, and pop radio never came back. Two years later, her contribution to the soundtrack for In The Name Of The Father, "You Made Me The Thief Of Your Heart", was her last radio chart appearance in the States at #24. It was better in the UK, where the lead single from her Universal Mother set, "Thank You For Hearing Me", grabbed her a top-20 hit at #13 that same year.

Between 2002 and 2003, O'Connor appeared on three big club hits in the U.S., with both a remix of the aforementioned first single "Troy" and a featured role on Conjure One's "Tears From The Moon" climbing to #3, and "Guide Me God" with Ghostland hitting #20. She has been releasing albums rather regularly since, but her public life, which was punctuated with mental health issues, suicide watches, sexuality and religious bounces, and provocative statements, has overshadowed most of the great music she's able to create. Her latest album, I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss, came in 2014, but the single, "Take Me To Church", sadly was eclipsed by the stellar but different song from Hozier which came into popularity at the same time.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Here's the original version of "Nothing Compares 2 U" as done by The Family in 1985...


Here's Sinead live in concert around the time of the album...


...and again in 2008 at the orchestral Night At The Proms...


In 2015, grunge rock icon Chris Cornell honored Prince with a cover of this song, which found its way on to the Mainstream Rock radio chart at #34...


I'll end with Prince himself from the Ellen show...


Up tomorrow: The icon to the LGBT community has a rocky organ.

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