Julie Burchill

Sinéad O’Connor deserved better than the music industry

  • From Spectator Life
Sinead O'Connor (Credit: Getty images)

It started with That Song on the World Service in the early hours, the one I’ve always loathed; for me it symbolises the start of the state we’re in now whereby perfectly good toe-tappers are routinely strung out in slo-mo by interpreters for whom misery passes as creativity.

OK, the Prince original wasn’t exactly a laugh a minute, but it wasn’t anywhere near as dragged out as the Sinéad O’Connor cover. So when I heard that the singer had died at the age of 56, my first thought was, selfishly ‘Oh no – they’ll be playing That Song all day!’ The second was ‘The tearleaders will have a field day with this one…’

O’Connor was allowed to be ‘eccentric’ for as long as she was young and beautiful

Sure enough, over on social media what my husband calls the ‘tearleaders’, metaphorical ambulance chasers competitively mourning dead celebrities, were already up and at ‘em before sunrise. I remember some time back after Howard Marks’ death at 70 (that’s 70 – not 7, or 17) I once saw someone on Facebook wail that ‘the slaughter of a generation’ was taking place, because David Bowie, Ronnie Corbett, and that fat bird who designs big buildings also shuffled off this mortal coil in the same year. When the great writer E.R Braithwaite died peacefully at a whopping 104 years young, I couldn’t help posting, ‘Taken too soon – I hate you, 2016!’

Here came the clichés: ‘Troubled Sinéad’, ‘Nothing Compared To You’ and our old buddy ‘She Never Got Over X’. The most presumptuous tearleading hinged on the sad fact that her teenage son committed suicide, with one clown on the radio explaining that the tears we see on her face in the famous video are the result of this – which would herald a breakthrough in time travel as it was recorded before the poor boy was born.

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