“Miley, please,” I scoffed when Miley Cyrus, in her recent Rolling Stone interview, said her “Wrecking Ball” video was inspired by Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” classic. Ms. Cyrus has been in the news a lot recently, between her MTV Video Music Awards performance, the aforementioned interview, her split from fiance Liam Hemsworth, and the below video. Not a stranger to controversy, O’Connor wrote Miley an open letter, advising that “The music business doesn’t give a sh*t about you.” Two more open letters and a series of tweets later, this drama is still unfolding. But while the two pop stars duke it out on the internet, let’s compare their videos, shall we?
Originally written by Prince and recorded by his side project The Family in 1985, “Nothing Compares 2 U” was made famous by O’Connor as a #1 hit from her 1990 album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. The video, directed by John Maybury, won Video of the Year at the VMAs – making O’Connor the first woman to garner this honor. Fun fact: it also won Best Post-Modern Video, a category first introduced in 1989 and last awarded in 1990 after which it was renamed Best Alternative Video. Shot at the Parc de Saint-Cloud in Paris, it features a tight close-up of O’Connor singing in a black turtleneck interspersed with desolate images of fountains and statues as she’s wandering the grounds.
Miley’s first #1 hit, “Wrecking Ball” was written by six different people and directed by fashion photographer Terry Richardson. While both Cyrus and O’Connor sport shaved heads, the only other things these videos have in common are a) break up songs b) extreme close-ups c) tears. That may sound like a lot of similarities, but one big difference is that Miley gets naked and humps a dirty wrecking ball. But first, she prances around in white underwear and makes out with a sledgehammer!
Obviously my Achy Breaky Heart (you’re welcome) lies with Sinead, but despite my snark, I don’t mind Miley’s video. Instead of O’Connor’s bleak and realistic portrayal of heartbreak, Miley’s version is sexy and stylized, and may yet win Best Music Video at the VMAs next year. But, whereas Miley was born rich and famous, O’Connor suffers from mental illness as a result of being molested by her mother as a child. Those tears, I believe.