Sinead O'Connor ranked among the most distinctive and controversial pop music stars of the 1990s, the first and in many ways the most influential of the numerous female performers whose music dominated airwaves throughout the decade. Brash and outspoken -- her shaven head, angry visage, and shapeless wardrobe a direct challenge to the popular culture's long-prevailing notions of femininity and sexuality -- O'Connor irrevocably altered the image of women in rock; railing against long-standing stereotypes simply by asserting herself not as a sex object but as a serious artist, she kick-started a revolt which led the way for performers ranging from Liz Phair to Courtney Love to Alanis Morissette. A voice born to break as many hearts as windows, as tender as it is lethal. Sinead O’Connor is that rare thing in popular music: a complete one-off.
While performing with a Dublin band called Ton Ton Macoute, O'Connor caught the attention of the two owner-managers of a small London record label called Ensign Records. Ensign released her debut album, The Lion and the Cobra, late in 1987. Critics lauded O'Connor's powerful and expressive voice and noted the complexity of her songs, even while acknowledging their decidedly uncommercial nature. Though it had no major hit singles, the album eventually sold over 500,000 copies and went platinum.
With the 1990 release of O'Connor's second album, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, the baldheaded singer-songwriter became an international star. Driven by the phenomenal success of the smash hit single "Nothing Compares 2 U" (a once-obscure song written by Prince and first recorded by a band called the Family), the album shot to the top of the Billboard charts and nabbed O'Connor four Grammy Award nominations including Best Album, Best Song, Best Female Vocalist, and Best Alternative Album. The video for "Nothing Compares 2 U" won the MTV Award for Video of the Year, and O'Connor was named Artist of the Year in 1991 by Rolling Stone. From her fearless genre-crossing forays into Irish folk and roots reggae to her collaborations with artists as diverse as Peter Gabriel, Massive Attack and The Chieftans, O’Connor has trodden a unique path to become the most iconic Irish female artist of the past 30 years