Saturday, April 28, 1990

Sinéad O’Connor hit #1 with I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got

I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got

Sinéad O’Connor

Released: March 20, 1990

Peak: 16 US, 11 UK, 114 CN, 11 AU

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.6 UK, 7.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: alternative rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Feel So Different [6:47]
  2. I Am Stretched on Your Grave (anonymous, Philip King, Chris Birkett, John Reynolds, O’Connor) [5:33]
  3. Three Babies [4:47] (10/20/90, 42 UK)
  4. The Emperor’s New Clothes [5:16] (4/7/90, 60 US, 31 UK, 40 AR, 1 MR)
  5. Black Boys on Mopeds (arranged by Karl Wallinger and O’Connor) [3:53]
  6. Nothing Compares 2 U (Prince) [5:10] (1/20/90, 1 US, 1 UK, 23 AR, 1 MR, sales: 1 million)
  7. Jump in the River (O’Connor, Marco Pirroni) [4:12] (9/17/88, 17 MR)
  8. You Cause as Much Sorrow [5:04]
  9. The Last Day of Our Acquaintance [4:40]
  10. I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got [5:47]

All tracks are written by Sinéad O'Connor unless noted otherwise.

Total Running Time: 51:09


4.395 out of 5.00 (average of 19 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got became Sinéad O’Connor's popular breakthrough on the strength of the stunning Prince cover Nothing Compares 2 U, which topped the pop charts for a month.” AMG She “changes the fundamental meaning of the song,” RH bringing her “fragility and…ferocity.” RH Her rendition became a reflection on her difficult relationship with an abusive mother who died in a car accident five years earlier.

The raw emotion of the song also came through vividly in the video. It lacked the quick-cut style of most videos, offering a close-up of Sinéad’s face instead. She’s wearing a black turtleneck and singing against a black background “so it looks like her shaved head is floating in space.” SH A tear rolls down her cheek at one point.

“But even its remarkable intimacy wasn’t adequate preparation for the harrowing confessionals that composed the majority of the album.” AMGI Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got lays the singer’s psyche startlingly and sometimes uncomfortably bare.” AMG She “weaves a stubborn refusal to be defined by anyone but herself.” AMG “The songs mostly address relationships with parents, children,” AMG such as the song Three Babies about her three miscarriages, SH and lovers, such as “her stormy relationship with drummer John Reynolds, who fathered O’Connor’s first child before the couple broke up.” AMG

The album’s title came to O’Connor in a dream about her mother. A medium told O’Connor that her mother asked for forgiveness. Sinéad’s sister was not able to offer forgiveness to which their mother said, “I do not want what I haven’t got” because she realized she didn’t deserve their forgiveness. RH

“In fact, the album is almost too personal and cathartic to draw the listener in close, since O’Connor projects such turmoil and offers such specific detail. Her confrontational openness makes it easy to overlook O’Connor’s musical versatility.” AMG “The album plays like a tour de force in its demonstration of everything O’Connor can do: dramatic orchestral ballads, intimate confessionals, catchy pop/rock, driving guitar rock, and protest folk.” AMG

The album opens with Feels So Different, which starts with The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr. WK The “brilliantly audacious…I Am Stretched on Your GraveAMG took an anonymous 17th century Irish poem which Frank O’Connor translated into English and married it to “eerie Celtic melodies and a James Brown ‘Funky Drummer’ sample.” AMG Black Boys on Mopeds is about two black teenagers who died in a confrontation with London police. SH

“What’s consistent throughout is the frighteningly strong emotion O’Connor brings to bear on the material, while remaining sensitive to each piece’s individual demands. Aside from being a brilliant album in its own right, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got foreshadowed the rise of deeply introspective female singer/songwriters like Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan, who were more traditionally feminine and connected with a wider audience. Which takes nothing away from anyone; if anything, it’s evidence that, when on top of her game, O’Connor was a singular talent.” AMG

Notes: A 2009 edition of the album added a second disc of bonus tracks including “Night Nurse,” “My Special Child,” “Silent Night,” “You Do Something to Me,” “Mind Games,” “What Do You Want,” and “The Value of Ignorance.” It also included live versions of “Troy” and “I Want Your Hands on Me” (both from The Lion and the Cobra) and a remix of “I Am Stretched Out on Your Grave.”

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 5/10/2008; updated 8/2/2021.

Saturday, April 21, 1990

Sinéad O’Connor hit #1 with “Nothing Compares 2 U”

Nothing Compares 2 U

Sinéad O’Connor

Writer(s): Prince (see lyrics here)

Released: February 11, 1990

First Charted: January 20, 1990

Peak: 14 US, 14 BA, 13 CB, 14 GR, 13 RR, 2 AC, 23 AR, 11 MR, 14 UK, 15 CN, 18 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.02 US, 0.67 UK, 3.5 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 543.63 video, 288.49 streaming


Click on award for more details.

Awards (Prince):

Awards (Chris Cornell):

About the Song:

In the mid-‘80s, Prince was such a hit-making machine that he gave some away. Chaka Khan, Sheila E, Sheena Easton, and the Bangles all took Prince compositions to the U.S. top 10. One of the songs that got away, however, was the “dramatic, yearning, haunting and beautiful” LW “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Prince wrote the song for The Family, a group whose most notable success came as past and future members of Prince’s backing bands. TB

Unlike the R&B and pop leanings of other artists who’d had hits with Prince songs, Sinéad O’Connor was an Irish alternative rock artist with one album under her belt which hadn’t produced any U.S. pop hits. When she covered “Nothing Compares 2 U,” no one could have predicted how huge it would become, much less that it would be the #1 song of 1990. RS500

Her performance is what made it a blockbuster. O’Connor holds back as if she can barely contain the emotion behind her voice. TC Within the same line, she sounded like she might “trail off into a breathy near-sob or let loose with a heartbroken wail.” AMG The “intensely heartfelt performance” TB was accented by a stark video which keyed in on O’Connor’s face. Four minutes in, she sheds a single tear, which she told VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s, was evoked by the line “All the flowers that you planted, Mama in the back yard/ All died when you went away,” and the feelings it stirred regarding her complicated relationship with her late mother. WK However, she has also cited as a split just two days before with manager Fachtna O’Ceallaigh as the reason. KL

Either way, there is a sincerity in the moment that captures the purity of the song. Even Prince himself couldn’t top it. In 1993, he released a live-in-the-studio duet with Rosie Gaines for his 3-CD The Hits/The B-Sides collection, but it didn’t have the quality that made O’Connor’s version definitive. When Prince died in 2016, Chris Cornell – best known as the lead singer of Soundgarden – released a version of him singing the song live as a tribute to Prince.


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First posted 1/20/2013; last updated 7/26/2023.