The original: The Family (1985)
Back in the mid-80s, not content with scoring dozens of Top 10 hits around the globe with tracks like “1999”, “Purple Rain”, “When Doves Cry” and “Kiss”, Prince felt the need to have an additional outlet for his less Pop-focussed songs. After hand-picking some of his favourite musicians to form his own surrogate band, he had them record an album of tracks that he felt were worthy of being appreciated over time, free from the worry of the fickle singles chart. “Nothing Compares 2 U” sits non-eventfully at track 6 on “The Family” album, which ran for a respectable 5 months on the U.S. Billboard Chart in 1985.
The cover: Sinead O’Connor (1990)
Despite Prince’s shrewd business sense – changing his mind about “Kiss” and taking back off Mazarati to release under his own name because he thought it was too catchy, for example – it would have been difficult to predict that a 24 year old Irish songstress could transform his pseudo-Soul/Funk ballad into one of the best selling songs in the world in 1990 by stripping it of everything but its raw, emotional clout and heart-felt performance. Coupled with an intimately shot music video, O’Connor cemented “Nothing Compares 2 U” as the break-up song of the decade.
The other original: Prince
Before you make your mind up about which version cuts the mustard with you, it might be worth watching one of the rare performances of the song by Prince himself. He’s never released it under his own name, but through Sinead it became arguably his most popular song. The Family version was an interpretation of his demo and – despite what TEH INTERNETS thinks – he doesn’t sing on the record. Even though he’s only started performing it in the last decade or so, you could actually consider this performance as ‘the original’.
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