This haunting worldwide hit from Sinéad O’Connor’s 1990 album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got is a case of right song, right singer, right time. The song: music and lyrics by Prince, recorded by a sideline band of his, then exiled to the back catalog. The singer: a tough but tender Dublin girl with doe’s eyes and a shaved head, looking for a break. The time: a pop scene that had recently begun making room on the charts for not-your-average-mainstream female singer-songwriters like Suzanne Vega and Tracy Chapman. There’s a fair amount of late-’80s overproducing to get past in this track, but O’Connor’s ethereal voice is more than a match for it — the proof being that when she takes it down to almost a whisper, the breakup anguish emerges most clearly. Her full-throated embrace of the song’s emotion and the single tear she sheds during the video catapulted her to a Grammy and to fame.
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