“Nothing Compares 2 U” is a song written and composed by Prince for one of his side projects, The Family, for the 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.
In 1985, The Family, a funk band created as an outlet to release more of Prince’s music, released their first and only album, the self-titled The Family. “Nothing Compares 2 U” appeared on the album but it 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 Ultimate Prince compilation. Prince also recorded a solo version of the song for his concert film, Rave Un2 the Year 2000, as well as for his 2002 live album, One Nite Alone… Live!
Dave Sholin from the Gavin Report wrote about 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 Sinead’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!
The clip won three “Moonmen” at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards: Video of the Year (O’Connor became 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 also became the subject for 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.
Chris Cornell performs his own rendition of “Nothing Compares 2 U” in this video and it’s a major hit and a powerful cover.