The Prince estate denied Nothing Compares, a new documentary about Sinéad O’Connor, the rights to her cover of Prince’s song, “Nothing Compares 2 U.” In a statement to Billboard, Prince’s half-sister and co-heir wrote, “I didn’t feel she deserved to use the song.”
Prince wrote “Nothing Compares 2 U” for his side project, The Family, and the song appeared on their self-titled 1985 debut. O’Connor’s 1990 cover transformed her career, taking her from a buzzy singer-songwriter with a few minor hits in Europe to an international sensation with three Grammy nominations, including Record of the Year. There’s a reason that documentary director Kathryn Ferguson chose that name for her documentary.
“Initially we had intended to use the song, but we received a refusal (which as the rights holders, was their prerogative),” Ferguson told Billboard. “In the end we were very happy with that section of the film. It meant the focus remained on Sinéad’s words, and on her own songwriting.”
Prince’s half-sister Sharon Nelson offered two reasons for refusal, one financial and one personal. “Nothing compares to Prince’s live version with Rosie Gaines that is featured on the Hits 1 album and we are re-releasing that album on vinyl on November 4th,” she said, adding, “I didn’t feel [O’Connor] deserved to use the song my brother wrote in her documentary so we declined. His version is the best.”
She didn’t elaborate on O’Connor’s merits, but it might be retaliation for an interview the singer gave to the New York Times last year. O’Connor recounted her first horrifying meeting with Prince, saying he “terrorized” her, rebuked her for swearing in interviews, and suggested a pillow fight only to whack her with something hard inside his pillowcase. When she tried to escape, she alleged that he chased her in his car.
Nothing Compares will air on Showtime this Sunday, October 2nd, and Showtime subscribers can stream it on-demand beginning today, September 30th.