The Song Sinéad O’Connor Stopped Playing Because She “Lost the Emotional Connection”

The late great Sinéad O’Connor delivered quite a few incredible songs during her day. But nothing compares to “Nothing Compares 2 U” (pun intended). It was her biggest hit from the Irish singer/songwriter’s 1990 album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. It even nabbed O’Connor several Grammy awards. It’s a huge part of her legacy. And O’Connor eventually stopped performing the hit.

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The Legendary Status of “Nothing Compares 2 U” 

“Nothing Compares 2 U” was the definitive Sinéad O’Connor song, and it wasn’t even originally hers. It was a Prince song that she covered, and everyone adored her rendition. And it makes sense why. The original Prince version was about someone abandoning their lover. O’Connor’s version was a love song to her late mother. The differences between the two songs are strong, and O’Connor’s was just so deeply unique, just as she was.

Unfortunately, O’Connor eventually got sick of the song, as many artists do. In 2015, she took to Facebook to announce to the world that “Nothing Compares 2 U” had been removed from her live setlist.

“OK, the time has come for me to cease singing ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’,” O’Connor said in a Facebook post in early 2015. “The first principle of the manner in which I’m trained as a singer (bel canto) is we never sing a song we don’t emotionally identify with. […] I don’t want audiences to be disappointed coming along to a show and then not hearing it, so I am letting you know here that you won’t.”

O’Connor went on to say that if she sang the song live just to please her fans, she “wouldn’t be doing my job right, because my job is to be emotionally available. I’d be lying. […] My job is to give you honesty.”

She also said that she had stopped singing other songs from her career for the very same reason. From there, O’Connor gave her last (for a while) performance of “Nothing Compares 2 U” in Budapest and then shelved it for a few years. The break ended in 2019 when she performed the song on The Late Late Show.

Sinéad O’Connor also performed “Nothing Compares 2 U” in February of 2020 at what would be her very last concert before her untimely death in 2023. The set as a whole was incredible, and O’Connor belted out all of the hits from her career beautifully. 

Photo by Gaye Gerard

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