Music education always & always looking forward.

Minor Seventh in Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U"

The death of Prince Rogers Nelson in April (2016) caused previously unseen ruptures in hundreds of musical communities.  Prince was not only a genius in regards to the music he released himself, he might have been the most prolific popular musician of the modern era.  He released so much music through other artists that it is easy to forget just how far his reach was.

I was able to tune in to Minnesota Public Radio the night of his death, and the DJ played an hour's worth of Prince's music that was recorded by other artists or music that was directly inspired by Prince's example -- even some tracks that Prince played on.  It was staggering just to see how much of a hand Prince had in the development of popular music, especially in the 1980s. 

And of course, the fact that he wrote this song only adds to his legacy.

Nothing Compares 2 U" - Sinead O'Connor

Intro: Sinead O'Connor is an Irish singer. In 1990, as she released her sophomore album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, she was relatively unknown to American audiences. The single "Nothing Compares 2 U", penned by Prince and previously recorded in 1985 by funk band The Family, launched her into international superstardom. It reached #1 in the US and her native Ireland, as well as 13 other countries. It was the #1 single of 1990 in Ireland, the Netherlands, and Australia, and achieved #2 & #3 on the UK and US end-of-year charts, respectively. The song was nominated for a Grammy for Record of the Year and the video for the song garnered O'Connor a Grammy nomination as well as an MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year. I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got eventually won the 1991 Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance.

Analysis: The interval of a minor seventh occurs in the chorus, on the second statement of "no-thing". In some ways, the intervallic relationship is difficult to discern, as "thing" is sung in a relatively high register, especially compared with the tessitura of the remainder of the song. In many ways, this large interval is one of the trademark melodic features of the song.

Considerations for Teaching: Both for its exemplary demonstration of intervallic relationships and for the song’s cultural impact, this song is an outstanding classroom listening example. In the wake of Prince's death, it makes for an especially poignant listening example.

 

BONUS!!  This is sort of contraband, as I don't necessarily believe in videotaping every single concert that you see, but I tend to take a photo or two (unless specified otherwise by the artist/venue) and occasionally a short video from some concerts I attend.  I did so when I saw The Smashing Pumpkins last month, and took a short video of their opening act -- the illustrious Liz Phair.  I didn't know much about her previously except what I'd heard on alternative radio or on VH1, but she made a fan for life out of me.  She was brilliant, and although it's been 20 years since she's been on the airwaves, she sounded amazing.  

And she covered this song in tribute to Prince, and suffice to say, it was just perfect.  And she sings the extremely high minor seventh interval in this clip and it's wonderful.  I hope you enjoy and buy lots of Liz Phair albums in the future.

[Edited 5/24/17 for clarity & formatting purposes]

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