Friday, May 20, 2016

Original Versus Cover - Nothing Compares 2 U

Some day it will come out that Prince wrote thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of songs throughout his prolific career. When you write a ton of songs, there are going to be the songs that are not quite what you wanted them to be. But in the world of music, everyone has their own point of view, and sometimes all a song needs to go from being average to being great is a different point of view.

The song Nothing Compares 2 U was written by Prince in 1990, and he released a studio version of the song on a couple of his greatest hits compilation albums in the early 90s. It is difficult to speculate on the motivations behind Prince's songs because he never talked about why he wrote certain songs or what songs meant. While it is easy to assume that Prince had some emotion behind Nothing Compares 2 U, that emotion really never shows up in his version. Here is Prince singing Nothing Compares 2 U:

This is a good song written by one of the greatest rock songwriters who ever lived. Sinead O'Connor is an unstable Irish woman who uses music as a constructive outlet. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. When she heard Prince's song, it brought up emotions in her relating to her mother's death in 1985. There was anger, confusion, sorrow, and pain running through her mind while she sings Prince's song, and the result is something Prince himself could never create. Here is Sinead O'Connor's  version of Nothing Compares 2 U (recorded, I might add, without Prince's permission or even knowledge that she was doing it - yes, it is legal when you pay the rights):

As a massive Prince fan, I am ashamed to say that I only found out recently (in the last five years or so) that this song is a cover of a Prince song. It was only in the last six months that I finally got around to listening to the Prince version. After hearing the two, it is frustrating to have to admit that O'Connor does so much more with this song than Prince ever did. 

Country singer Chris Stapleton has a version of this song that was recently released that is basically a cover of the Sinead O'Connor version and not a cover of the Prince version. Stuff like that can seem disrespectful to Prince, but what it really shows is just how perfect the O'Connor version is. 

Sinead O'Connor put all of the anger and pain associated with her mother's death into her version of this song and it created a classic. But we should always remember that without Prince, this song would have never existed. Despite how I feel personally about Sinead O'Connor, I have to admit that this version of Prince's song exceeds what Prince did, and that is a hard thing for me to admit.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

George N Root III is a music fan who is man enough to admit when Sinead O'Connor does something right. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at