20 Years Ago This Week: Sinead O'Connor releases 'I Do Not Want'
Image Credit: Neal Preston/CorbisSinéad O’Connor began the 1990s as a relative newcomer – respected by critics, but still far from world-famous. All that would change with her sophomore effort, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, which came out on March 20, 1990. ”Obviously, ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ was a career-maker,” says the Irish singer, 43, referring to the album’s breakthrough hit. ”It definitely put me on the map.”
Twenty years later, the album still resonates. On each of I Do Not Want‘s 10 songs – including that now-classic Prince-penned breakup ballad – the boldly bald singer fearlessly bared her soul, often with little more than a minimal drum loop or synthesizer part to accompany her raw wailing. ”O’Connor’s voice… is in no way dependable,” EW’s Greg Sandow wrote at the time in his A review. ”It pales and cracks. And through those cracks pours truth, as if O’Connor were strong enough not to be afraid to let herself break.”
After debuting at No. 24, I Do Not Want quickly climbed to the top spot on the Billboard album chart. Within a few months, it was certified double
platinum. A year later, it would win the first-ever Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance. And most famously, in 1992, the singer sparked outrage when she tore up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live. O’Connor was suddenly a major star – something she didn’t always wear comfortably. ”I found that a bit tricky,” she says. ”It hadn’t been part of my ambition necessarily to become a pop star.”
These days, O’Connor has returned to a more modest level of fame. Since I Do Not Want she’s released six studio albums, and she’s looking forward to starting her next one soon. When she tours, though, she’s still happy to perform tunes from the album that briefly made her one of the early ’90s’ most talked-about singers. As she puts it, ”It would be cruel not to, wouldn’t it?’