Most people know “Nothing Compares 2 U” as a Sinead O’Connor song that hit No. 1 in 1990. Fewer people know that Prince wrote the song for his side project The Family. The Family’s version did nothing, but O’Connor turned it into a smash.
Prince was apparently jealous of O’Connor’s success with the song and didn’t like it. So he released a live version of the song on his 1993 compilation album, The Hits/The B-Sides; it reached only No. 62 on the R&B chart.
Now, we get the first glimpse into Prince’s vault with the original recording of the song. While the live version is more of a slow jam that tends to drag, and Rosie Gaines’ contributions are minimal. In contrast, the 1984 original is more heartfelt and personal, with a simple keyboard starting the song. Apparently, Prince wrote it in an hour; Susan Rogers, his sound engineer, said, “The song came out like a sneeze.” This was Prince at his creative peak.
If it stood on its own, it would be one of Prince’s best songs, a little reminiscent of “Purple Rain.” But in the shadow of O’Connor’s version, it’s still not as good, and it leaves you with unfulfilled expectations. But it’s nice to see some material being released from the vault. Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come, and we’ll be able to continue to get samples of Prince’s genius.
Sinead O’Connor’s version: