She topped the charts, won a Grammy and sold millions of albums. She also shaved her head, tore up a picture of the Pope live on TV and banned the U.S. national anthem at her concerts. Even Madonna thought she went too far. Sinéad O’Connor is the subject of a new documentary, Nothing Compares, streaming Friday on Showtime.
The doc focuses on the years 1987 to 1992, when Sinéad became a superstar thanks to her #1 hit “Nothing Compares 2 U,” but then unapologetically torpedoed her career by speaking out against the Catholic Church’s complicity in child sexual abuse, as well as racism and music business hypocrisy.
Director Kathryn Ferguson says it’s important for young people to watch Sinéad’s story, explaining, “I feel like we need people to be speaking truth to power as much as humanly possible.” Ferguson would like Sinéad to be “a new icon” for young people, teaching them that they, too, “can use their voice and their power.”
Speaking of voices, you never see Sinéad in the film — you only hear her voice.
“I just wanted her voice to be the most prominent thing in the film — y’know, an artist who’s had her voice so reduced over the years,” Ferguson explains to ABC Audio. “To me, it was critical that that was the key takeaway: that you could hear her.”
Despite its title, the song “Nothing Compares 2 U” is also absent from the film. Prince wrote the song and his estate wouldn’t give Ferguson permission to use it.
As for Sinéad’s opinion of the film, Ferguson admits she doesn’t know if the singer’s watched it.
“It has been offered to her. We certainly have her blessing. And from what we can see on her Facebook page, she’s very supportive of the film — and, I’m hoping, proud.”
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