Sinead O'Connor - The Emperor's New Clothes (Live in 1990)
O'Connor was 20 years old when she released her first single ("Troy") and had a son with her drummer, John Reynolds. Blessed with tremendous talent and a rebellious streak, she was offered lots of advice, which she often ignored. In this song, she works out the frustrations that come with being an unmarried young mother in an Irish Catholic family with a conflicted boyfriend and a burgeoning music career. The Emperor's New Clothes is a fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen. In the story, the emperor orders fine clothing, and is given nothing but told that what he is wearing is magnificent, but invisible to underlings. When he parades naked down the street, the people pretend to marvel at his clothes until a child points out that he is naked. You can see how O'Connor relates the story to those who judge her. (For more, check out "The King's New Clothes.") This was O'Connor's follow-up to "Nothing Compares 2 U," a massive hit around the world. "The Emperor's New Clothes" didn't do nearly as well but was still a substantial hit. As it was falling off the charts, Sinéad made headlines for asking that the national anthem not be played before she performed in New Jersey. This triggered protests and a backlash, but there was more to come. She really stirred things up when she tore up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live in 1992. On the show, she was promoting her album Am I Not Your Girl?, an intentionally radio-unfriendly collection of cover songs. Her fanbase constricted considerably, which she didn't mind at all. Andy Rourke of The Smiths played bass on this song. He and Smiths drummer Mike Joyce were part of O'Connor's touring band at this time. The music video was directed by John Maybury, who also did the famous video for "Nothing Compares 2 U." It would be the most famous awkward dancing video of the '90s if it weren't for Michael Stipe's moves in "Losing My Religion." We see Sinéad barefoot, doing her own expressive visual interpretation of the song on a stage set up to look like a kid's production.
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