Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” Lyrics Meaning

“Nothing Compares 2 U” is a song in which the singer (Sinead O’Connor) is basically saying she misses very-special people in her life. For the most part, the lyrics are about her unresolvable love for an ex-boyfriend. But her deceased mom enters the equation also. And what she is telling these individuals is that “nothing compares” to them, as in there is no activity she can engage in which will take away the depression caused by their absences.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Sinead O’Connor's Nothing Compares 2 U at

As for her significant other, when they broke up, she would go out and fulfill her heart’s desires with her new sense of freedom. Yet she is totally unable to – and to some degree uninterested in – getting over him.

Where does her mother come in?

Her mother, meanwhile, is only mentioned briefly during the bridge. But the symbolism Sinead uses in that regard is probably the most-touching part of the song. But more importantly to the outside audience it gives the song a general applicability. It does so by broadening the type of relationships an individual relaying the titular sentiments can apply them to.


And overall this isn’t an overly-complex song.  That is to say that the idea being put forth is very forthright and understandable. The singer misses certain people, in this case an ex-lover and her late mom. And through her resultant suffering, she has come to realize that their irreplaceable roles in her life and to some extent wants to make them aware of this reality.

Lyrics of "Nothing Compares 2 U"

Touching Music Video for “Nothing Compares 2 U”

O’Connor shed real tears on the music video to this song, which was directed by John Maybury. She accomplished this by conjuring up memories of her deceased mom, who passed away just five years prior.

The video went on to receive critical acclaim, such as being nominated for six 1990 MTV Video Music Awards. And it actually won in three categories. They are as follows:

  • Best Female Video
  • Best Post-Modern Video
  • Video of the Year. 

She also performed the song during the ceremony.

Writing Credits for “Nothing Compares 2 U”

This classic was written by none other than the late music icon Prince (1958-2016).

In fact the song was originally released in 1985 by a band he formed called The Family. However, that version was never released as a single. Nor did it attract any type of notable attention.

Multiple Versions by Prince

Prince also recorded different versions of the song himself throughout the years to be featured on a number of his projects, including his original-solo recording. That version wasn’t made public until a couple of years after his death.

Sinead O’Connor’s Version of “Nothing Compares 2 U”

The version recorded and performed by Sinéad O’Connor was released by Chrysalis Records on 8 January 1990. It was the second single from her sophomore album. That album was titled I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got

It should be noted that O’Connor did not get permission from Prince before using his song, and he was furious accordingly. In fact she implies that they got into an actual physical altercation inside his house due to the misunderstanding which ensued.

But unlike Prince’s renditions, Sinead’s version went on to become a mega hit, in fact one of the biggest songs of 1990. For instance, it was number 1 on music charts in over 15 countries, including topping the UK Singles Chart, Billboard Hot 100 and Sinead O’Connor’s native Irish Singles Chart.

Notable Live Performance

Below is one of Sinead O’Connor’s most notable live performances of “Nothing Compares 2 U”. The performance took place at an Amnesty International concert in Chile. And the date of the performance was October 13, 1990.

What do we think about the above performance? We simply think it is the definition of true brilliance!

6 Responses

  1. Redfox says:

    but there is one other thing… she goes to the doctor… the doctor tells HER: “Nothing compares to YOU” !!!!
    So, no matter whats your sorrow – LOVE yourself. YOU are important too. YOU are still here, and you cannot destroy yourself because someone is not in YOUR life any more. Nothing compares to yourself. Because you´re a human being and you have a right to live and be happy no matter what happens.

    • JemmaG says:

      No. The doctor didn’t say that at all. The doctor said, “Girl you better try and have fun no matter what you do.”
      Sinead then retorts “But he’s a fool. Because nothing compares to you.”

      I’ve no idea where you got your version from. It’s totally wrong. However, I completely agree with the general sentiment of what you’re saying.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Not her lyrics at all wtf

  3. Mark Hanavan says:

    Some may think this is a stretch but combining Sinead’s religious life with the statuary of the video, one could make the case that “God” is the one that she has been separated from. The”flowers in the back yard” … “Eden” have all “died and went away”. The end image is a path that leads to an illuminated gold statue of some kind. I also think there is some significance with the “hyper attention to self” with the framing of her face in the video, which in turn could be the reasoning behind our cultures turning away from God. I suppose someone could make the case that if we “inside are part of God or the “Church” that focus on “Self” could be a positive thing. The priestly dress and shaved head also contribute to the above possible interpretations. All in all I feel she is using the metaphor of our human relationships to talk about the more important relationship we have with God the “Nothing Compares To”.

  4. Carlito says:

    Undoubtedly, this song holds a special place in my heart as it reminds me of my younger days when I used to groove to it on the radio. Despite its age, it remains one of my favorites, and I’ve come to appreciate its profound lyrics even more now.

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