So I haven’t seen Sinead O’Connor’s beautiful bald head floating on Buzzfeed’s homepage lately. I guess that means her feud with Miley is simmering down. That also means we probably won’t hear about Sinead for a while, considering this controversy was pretty much the most popular thing she has done in 15 years. Sad. I want to take this time to appreciate Sinead O’Connor for the badass that she is, or I guess was back in the 90’s. She used to be even more controversial than Miley, but managed to keep her clothes on in the process.
A little background: By the age of 15 Sinead was placed in a “troubled youth training center” called Magdalene Laundry Asylum in Ireland because of her truancy and shoplifting habits. During her 18 months at the Catholic Asylum she had a daily routine of extremely long periods of prayer and enforced silence. She also claims to have been severely beaten on a daily basis by the nuns. After her time at the asylum she moved to a Quaker boarding school where she developed her songwriting skills. She decided to leave school after her mom died, and started working on her music career.
Most people remember her for her cover of Prince’s song “Nothing Compares To You”, and the beautiful video she made for it. Its pretty much considered iconic at this point, and has been referenced tons of times in pop culture.
After she released the song in 1990, she told an interviewer that she got into a physical fight Prince. Woah.
“He invited me to his house in Los Angeles and started to give out to me for swearing in interviews. When I told him to go fuck himself he got very upset and became quite threatening, physically. I ended up having to escape. He can pack a punch. A few blows were exchanged. All I could do was spit. I spat on him quite a bit.”
That year she was invited to perform on SNL, but she cancelled her performance in protest when she found out that a famously homophobic and misogynistic comedian was hosting. “It would be nonsensical of Saturday Night Live to expect a woman to perform songs about a woman’s experience after a monologue by Andrew Dice Clay.”
In 1991 she was nominated for four Grammys, and won Best Alternative Music Performance. She didn’t show up and REFUSED to accept the Grammy, because she claimed that the whole awards show was steeped in commercialism. She wrote a pretty nasty letter to the Academy that you can read here.
In 1992, she performed an a cappella version of Bob Marley’s “War” on Saturday Night Live. At the end of the performance she held up picture of Pope John Paul II, ripped it up, and said “fight the real enemy” while the audience remained silent. She did this in protest of the child abuse that was occurring within the Catholic church, something that she had experienced herself. SNL apologized for her performance, refused to ever rerun the episode, and banned her from ever performing again. Offensive? Sure. Badass? HELL YES.