What's The Real Meaning Of Nothing Compares 2 U By Sinead O'Connor? Here's What We Think

The tragic passing of the iconic Sinéad O'Connor has left fans mourning while belting out her emotional ballads. Among her most well-known tunes is her 1990 version of the hit song, "Nothing Compares 2 U." Fans of the legend know that no one will ever replace the acclaimed Irish singer, who died at age 56.

O'Connor's family announced her death in a statement to RTE Wednesday, July 26, 2023. "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad," the statement said. "Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time."

As her loved ones and fans across the globe mourn her passing, some are taking a deeper look at the meaning behind her biggest hit.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

'Nothing Compares 2 U' has multiple interpretations

"Nothing Compares 2 U" is a song about loss, which is a universal human experience but one that everyone faces differently. While some see the song as a story about the loss of a romantic love, others interpret the lyrics in other ways. 

"It's been seven hours and fifteen days/Since you took your love away," O'Connor belts out in a music video for the song, with a tear on her cheek. O'Connor wasn't thinking about a breakup when she sang the words. She was thinking about her mother, she told the BBC in a 2016 interview. 

"It's always the same thing and it always works ... I always think of my mother ... which is why I had the little tear in the video," she said. "My mother died when I was 17 and it wasn't long after that that I was making the video." She told the BBC that the common emotion behind the song is part of the reason it became a beloved hit. "I think I'm probably similar to millions of people who loved the song, and we're all people who associated the song with a loss of some kind," she said.

Prince wrote the song before O'Connor made it a hit

The original version of "Nothing Compares 2 U" was written and recorded by Prince in 1984 before O'Connor released her version six years later. His estate released his original recording in 2018 as the second anniversary of his death approached. At that time, his recording engineer, Susan Rogers, told the BBC about her theory on the meaning behind the lyrics. Rogers was in the studio when Prince recorded the original version.

Rogers speculated that Prince wrote the song about his housekeeper, Sandy Scipioni. Scipioni was an important figure in the musician's life, but she was forced to leave suddenly after her father's sudden death from a heart attack. 

"Sandy was the person who made sure he had his favourite beverage, which was Five Alive, and she made sure the house was clean, and that there were fresh flowers on the piano, and that the socks and underwear were washed," Rogers told the BBC. "She had been gone and Prince's mood was getting darker and darker. He would just ask, 'When is Sandy coming back?' That might have been the inspiration for the song."