Saturday, May 19, 1990

Madonna hit #1 with “Vogue”

First posted 1/20/2013; updated 3/16/2021.

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, 13 CB, 13 RR, 2 AC, 23 AR, 11 MR, 14 UK, 15 CN, 18 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.6 UK, 1.79 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 229.19 video, -- streaming

Awards: (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 “Nothing Compares 2 U,” a song Prince wrote for the Family in 1985. RS500 The group’s 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. CR 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.

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Sinead O’Connor
  • DMDB page for parent album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Prince
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Chris Cornell
  • AMG All Music Guide
  • CR Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 691.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 354.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (12/04). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 240.
  • WK Wikipedia

Friday, May 4, 1990

50 years ago: Glenn Miller’s “Tuxedo Junction” hit #1 for 1st of 9 weeks

Tuxedo Junction

Glenn Miller

Writer(s): Erskine Hawkins, Bill Johnson, and Julian Dash (music); Buddy Feyne (words) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: February 24, 1940

Peak: 19 US, 7 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.3 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Erskine Hawkins, an African-American trumpeter and bandleader from Alabama, was one of the composers of “Tuxedo Junction.” The title came from a club in the Ensley suburb of Birmingham, Alabama. SF The venue was part of the Chitlin’ Circuit, the name given to the region in the Deep South where African American performers were accepted during racial segregation. WK According to Hawkins, his valet said, “Why don’t you call it ‘Tuxedo Junction’ since that’s where you’re from?” SB

Hawkins’ orchestra was one of the house bands at the Savoy Ballroom in New York and often used the song as the sign-off. WK His recording of “the enormously engaging, easy-loping instrumental” SS reached #7 in the U.S. and marked his highest peak out of sixteen chart entries.

Glenn Miller’s orchestra was a guest band at the Savoy on Christmas Eve 1939. Miller saw the “crowd’s enthusiastic reaction” to Hawkin’s performance of “Tuxedo Junction” SS and talked to Hawkins afterward, telling him he wanted to record the song. SB Miller recorded the song on February 5, 1940, with trumpet solos from Dale McMickle and Clyde Hurley and a piano solo from Chummy MacGregor, became a monstrous #1 song, holding the top spot for nine weeks. It was his tenth of 23 chart-toppers.

The song was also recorded by the Andrews Sisters, Frankie Avalon, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Harry James, Joe Jackson, Stan Kenton, and the Manhattan Transfer. WK Bob Marley’s “Kaya” was inspired by the song. WK

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Glenn Miller
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Erskine Hawkins
  • SF Songfacts
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Pages 531-2.
  • SB
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Pages 201, 309-313, and 599.
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 4/19/2021.