‘The music industry can be a very sinister place’, Sinead O’Connor

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‘The music industry can be a very sinister place’, Sinead O’Connor

Sinead O’Connor discusses Miley Cyrus and how she avoids becoming jaded

By Adam Zacharias (senior Reporter)

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Published: Wed 28 Jan 2015, 8:46 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 7:28 PM

Sinead O’Connor

From physical altercations with Prince to offending Catholics around the world, Sinead O’Connor was pop music’s enfant terrible before Miley Cyrus was even born.

In 2013, the Irish singer-songwriter wrote an open letter on her website addressed to Cyrus, after the controversial starlet mimicked her Nothing Compares 2 U video by shedding a single tear in Wrecking Ball (when not swinging around naked from an actual wrecking ball).

O’Connor’s chief concern is that the former Disney star is doing more damage than she realises with her raunchy antics.

“The message you keep sending is that it’s somehow cool to be prostituted. It’s so not cool Miley – it’s dangerous,” wrote the 48-year-old.

As she speaks with City Times, prior to her Dubai show in Irish Village this weekend, O’Connor resumes the conversation in her typically articulate and no-nonsense manner.

“It concerns me enormously that American female artists seem overly sexualised,” she says. “That kind of thing is all very well, except when your audience is minors.

“It concerns me that an entire generation is being groomed and silenced. It’s very deliberate. The music industry can be a very sinister place.”

O’Connor, who released her Grammy-nominated debut album The Lion and the Cobra in 1987, is far more positive about the current crop of British artists dominating the charts, name-checking the likes of Adele and Lily Allen.

“The standard is incredibly high,” says the performer, adding that she’s a big fan of Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran, having recently worked with them on the Band Aid 30 charity single Do They Know It’s Christmas.

The track itself was criticised in some quarters, with acts such as Damon Albarn and Emeli Sande declaring the campaign a patronising method of highlighting Africa’s problems.

O’Connor countered with trademark vigour – telling naysayers to “shut the f*** up” in the British press, adding, “The assumption that anyone performing on the record has not privately given money is exactly that, an assumption.” 


Born in County Dublin in 1966, O’Connor was a young tearaway before discovering music. The shaven-headed singer came to international attention in 1990 with her version of the Prince ballad Nothing Compares 2 U.

The track topped both the UK and American charts, as did the accompanying album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, which won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance.

O’Connor also became renowned as a magnet for controversy – tearing up a photograph of the Pope during a performance on Saturday Night Live, trading barbs with Madonna in the aftermath and getting into a physical tussle with Prince after he objected to her swearing in interviews.

Though she would never replicate such commercial heights, the singer has remained prolific – releasing 10 studio albums and collaborating with a broad spectrum of artists including U2, Massive Attack, Elaine Page and Peter Gabriel.

These days, O’Connor is touring to support her most recent record, the cheekily titled and well-received I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss. When asked about the creative process for the album, O’Connor simply replies, “I just wrote and wrote and wrote. I’m the sole breadwinner – I’ve got four children to feed.”

She professes to being “addicted” to performing live.

“I think I’m a lot more confident now as a performer. Before I was a lot shier, like a rabbit in the headlights,” she says.

“Touring can be very hard work, and now we have to do it more because people don’t buy records anymore. I can understand if people get jaded, it’s like being at a great party – for nine months.

“I love gigging, I’d do it whether I needed to pay my bills or not, but we need to do it more than we used to.”


What: Sinead O’Connor live in concert

Where: The Irish Village, Dubai

When: Thursday, January 29, doors open at 7pm for a 9pm start

Cost: Dhs165

Tickets: Available at the venue and from www.timeouttickets.com 


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