Very few songs resonate with heartache quite like “Nothing Compares 2 U.” The song perfectly captures the ugly realities that come with a broken heart, making it an instantly relatable, and therefore highly covered standard.
Videos by American Songwriter
“Nothing Compares 2 U” was made famous by Sinéad O’Connor, but who wrote it?
[RELATED: Sinéad OʼConnor Addresses Meteoric Rise and Subsequent Fall into Exile in New Documentary, ‘Nothing Compares’]
Pop icon Prince wrote “Nothing Compares 2 U” for the funk band, The Family, who was the first act to be signed to his label, Paisley Park Records. The outfit recorded the song in 1985, and it was released on their only album, The Family, that same year. The song was not released as a single and was met with little to no acclaim.
Years later in 1993, Prince released a live version of the song on the compilation album, The Hits/The B-Sides. The song featured Rosie Gaines as a guest vocalist. The live rendition charted that year and again following his death in 2016.
The very first recording of the song, laid down by Prince in 1984 at the Flying Cloud Drive Warehouse in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, was unearthed after his passing and released by Prince’s estate in 2018. The previously unreleased track was accompanied by a montage of Prince & the Revolution rehearsing the song the summer it was recorded.
Check it out below.
Many artists have covered the Prince-penned classic over the years since its release, including Aretha Franklin, The Chicks, Chris Cornell, John Pardi, and Miley Cyrus as a mash-up with her hit song, “Wrecking Ball.”
[RELATED: Sinead O’Connor Reveals Retirement From Music Following Final Album ‘NVDA’]
But no cover compares to the Irish songstress Sinéad O’Connor’s. Her haunting rendition, a power ballad of brooding strings and tear-jerking keys, launched the song into worldwide popularity when she recorded and released it in 1990. It appeared on her sophomore album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, and skyrocketed up the charts almost immediately after hitting ears everywhere.
Photo by Paul Bergen/Redferns