12 Great Sinéad O’Connor Duets & Collaborations

As TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone put it, Sinéad O’Connor was a shit-talking prophet and iconoclast who possessed one of the great voices the last 30+ years, as one listen to singles “Nothing Compares 2 You,” “Mandinka” and “I Am Stretched Out On Your Grave” still makes clear. But some of the Irish singer’s best performances are collaborations with other artists. There are a lot of them, and, in the ’90s especially, everyone wanted Sinéad on their records, from Irish folk icons, to rock, pop and country legends–not to mention a whole bunch of trip hop artists.

O’Connor had the innate ability to make just about any song better, even with the faintest of backing vocals, but whenever she was anywhere near the spotlight she performed magic. Here are 12 of her best duets and collaborations, ranging from her first studio recording through the 2010s.

Sinéad, your voice and spirit live on.

The Edge with Sinéad O’Connor – “Heroine” (1986)

Sinéad O’Connor was still emerging on the Dublin scene, and had just been signed to Ensign Records, when U2 guitarist The Edge — they shared an accountant — asked her to collaborate on the main theme for film The Captive that he and guitarist Michael Brook were composing the score for. Though at the time O’Connor was not the biggest U2 fan (“too bombastic,” fair point!) she accepted the offer, co-writing the lyrics and delivering a breathtaking lead vocal, the first of many to come.

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Sinéad O’Connor & Andy Rourke – “Someday My Prince Will Come” (1988)

Not long after releasing her debut album, 1987’s The Lion & The Cobra, Sinéad was called upon by Saturday Night Live musical director Hal Willner to contribute to Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films, one of many Willner-produced albums featuring unique musical collaborations. Here she paired with Andy Rourke who had until recently played with The Smiths and, along with his bandmate Mike Joyce, had played with O’Connor following the release of her debut album. (Rourke also played on Sinéad’s I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.) For their take on Snow White classic “Someday My Prince Will Come,” O’Connor barely rises above a whisper, but imbues the song with an aching longing that stays with you far beyond its short 68 second runtime.

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The The ft Sinéad O’Connor – “Kingdom Of Rain” (1989)

Sinéad O’Connor’s first recorded duet was with The The’s Matt Johnson for the band’s third album Mind Bomb (also the first The The album with Johnny Marr in the band). Much of the record is fiery polemics but “Kingdom of Rain” is much more intimate and personal, a smoldering portrait of a relationship that had burned down to ash. It features knockout performances by O’Connor and Johnson as they trade lines dipped in regret, anger, and resignation. “You were the boy who turned into the man,” she sings, “Broke my heart and let go of my hand.” The song peaks with Sinead belting out “I just wanted somebody to possess this young girl!,” a moment which still sends shivers down the spine.

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Jah Wobble ft Sinéad O’Connor – “Visions Of You” (1991)

Following the release of her worldwide #1 second album, I Do Not Want What I Have Not Got, and its #1 single “Nothing Compares 2 U, Sinéad O’Connor was truly hot property and fielded endless requests to appear on other people’s records. Former Public Image Ltd bassist Jah Wobble scored his biggest UK single (#35 in 1992) thanks to O’Connor gracing “Visions of You,” the dubby, trip-hoppy opening track on his Invaders of the Heart album Rising Above Bedlam. (Wobble was also one of the many contributors on IDNWWIHG) O’Connor’s versatile voice is made for songs like these that mix a variety of world influences into one vivid, if chill, groove. Only question is, why was this the third single off the record and not the first?

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Peter Gabriel & Sinéad O’Connor – “Blood of Eden” (1992)

Peter Gabriel and Sinéad O’Connor met at an Amnesty International concert in Santiago Chile in 1990 where, in addition to her own set, O’Connor joined Gabriel to sing Kate Bush’s part on “Don’t Give Up.” They had instant chemistry, and he asked her to sing on the new record he was working on. (There was also a brief romance between the two; Gabriel was newly divorced.) Those sessions resulted in two songs on Gabriel’s 1992 album, Us: opener “Come Talk to Me” and “Blood of Eden.” The latter ended up being the third single from the album, a typically sumptuous, earthy Gabriel slow jam that truly comes alive in the chorus thanks to O’Connor’s ethereal vocals.

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Willie Nelson & Sinéad O’Connor – “Don’t Give Up” (1993)

Having sung “Don’t Give Up” with Peter Gabriel on stage a few years before (see above), O’Connor recorded a cover of the song with Willie Nelson for the country icon’s 1993 album, Across the Borderline. Nelson’s 40th album, it was heavy on guests including David Crosby, Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon but “Don’t Give Up” is one of the real highlights. Willie turns the tender song into a cowboy ballad that is made breathtaking by O’Connor who, as she is so good at doing, goes from fragile to commanding in the turn of a phrase. Also let’s hear it for Willie: by 1993, O’Connor had become a bit persona non grata in US following her Pope-pic SNL incident a year before but, like Kris Kristofferson, Nelson can tell a fellow outlaw when he sees one.

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Sinead O’Connor – “You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart” (with Bono and Gavin Friday) (1994)

The closing credits theme to Academy Award-nominated Daniel Day Lewis political drama In the Name of the Father, Sinéad’s “You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart” was co-written by Bono his old buddy (and former Virgin Prunes frontman) Gavin Friday and collaborator Maurice Seezer, produced by Bomb the Bass’ Tim Simenon, and features Jah Wobble on bass. A very of-its-time trip-hop track, it is nonetheless custom built for O’Connor’s gifts and she knocks it out of the park. “You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart” was her biggest hit since I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, reaching going Top 10 in Ireland (and Poland!). Sinead also actually collaborated with U2 proper on “I’m Not Your Girl” which was for another soundtrack, Wim Wenders’ The End of Violence but “Thief of Your Heart” is a much better song.

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The Chieftains ft Sinéad O’Connor – “Foggy Dew” (1995)

Arguably O’Connor’s most-loved song outside of her purely solo work is this cover of traditional Irish ballad “Foggy Dew” she recorded with Dublin folk legends The Chieftains for their 1995 hit album The Black Veil. The record is tipsy with big names — Mick Jagger, Sting, Marianne Faithfull, Mark Knopfler, to name four — and the Van Morrison contribution, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?,” got most of the attention at the time, winning the Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals). However it’s “Foggy Dew,” which O’Connor helps take into mournful, heartbreaking territory, that has stood the test of time. Plus: Dropkick Murphys fans may know this version as the band’s frequent walk-on music.

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Shane MacGowan & Sinéad O’Connor – “Haunted” (1995)

Originally written and recorded by The Pogues for the Sid & Nancy soundtrack, the Springsteen-esque “Haunted” was rerecorded by Shane MacGowan (who’d left The Pogues in 1991) as a duet with Sinéad O’Connor for the soundtrack of a very different kind of film: Sandra Bullock/Dennis Leary romantic comedy Two If By Sea. The film was a flop (two thumbs down from Siskel & Ebert) but this update on “Haunted” is great and easily the most memorable thing about the movie. While Sid & Nancy got the critical accolades and Criterion Collection edition, Two If By Sea netted “Haunted” an actual hit in the UK.

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Massive Attack ft Sinéad O’Connor – “Special Cases” (2003)

After working memorably with Tracey Thorn and Elizabeth Fraser, trip hop titans Massive Attack turned to Sinéad O’Connor for their underrated 2003 album, 100th Window. She sings on three songs, including standout and lead single “Special Cases” which climbed to #15 on the UK charts, making it the band’s biggest hit since “Teardrop.” Like the song itself, Sinéad keeps things at a simmer, but you can feel the rage and contempt in her voice when she seethes “Take a look around the world / You see such bad things happening / There are many good men / Ask yourself, is he one of them?” Massive Attack wrote the day O’Connor died, “Honestly. To bear witness to her voice, intimately in the studio. On the road every single person stopped – dropped their tools during soundcheck. The fire in her eyes made you understand that her activism was a soulful reflex & not a political gesture.”

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Sinéad O’Connor & Terry Hall – “All Kinds of Everything” (2005)

One of Sinéad O’Connor’s best-ever collaborations is one most people don’t even know exists. Satirical series Eurotrash aired on the UK’s edgy Channel 4 in the mid-’90s and had the idea to curate a tribute to cheesy Eurovision Song Contest Winners. Terry Hall, who first worked with O’Connor with his group The Colourfield way back in 1987 (on b-side “Monkey in Winter”), brought in Sinéad to cover Dara’s “All Kinds of Everything” which was Ireland’s winning Eurovision entry in 1970. The original could’ve been in The Sound of Music, but Terry and Sinéad take a more understated approach, and turning it into a duet was a brilliant decision. While the compilation — that also features Saint Etienne, Edwyn Collins, Bananrama and more — was made with tongue firmly in cheek, they’re serious about liking the song. “There are lines here that if it said ‘Copyright Leonard Cohen’ it would be called a work of genius,” Terry said at the time. The video made for Eurotrash, meanwhile, is pretty wonderful, too, making their chemistry all the more palpable — when Sinéad flashes a big smile while Hall sings, it’s genuinely joyous moment featuring two artists both gone too soon.

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John Grant ft Sinéad O’Connor – “It Doesn’t Matter to Him” (2012)

If you’ve seen the great 2022 Sinéad O’Connor documentary Nothing Compares, you’ve seen John Grant enthuse about O’Connor, who sings backup all over his 2012 album Pale Green Ghosts. “Singing with Sinéad was surreal for me, more than anything, but also just joyous,” Grant told Ireland’s Independent at the time. “My feeling was there might be all sorts of shit going on at home – and then I’m singing with Sinéad, so how bad can anything be? It feels like 10 minutes ago when I was just this boy on a dance floor being completely wowed by that incredible voice she possesses.” Sinéad also covered Grant’s “The Queen of Denmark” at her shows around the time. The most notable of O’Connor’s contributions to the album is probably the devestating “It Doesn’t Matter to Him,” where her voice offers a gossamer counterpoint to Grant’s baritone.

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There are many more Sinéad O’Connor collaborations, including ones with The Stone Roses’ Ian Brown, Bomb the Bass, Asian Dub Foundation, Ghostland, Moby, World Party and more. Here’s a playlist with all the collabs above (minus “All Kinds of Everything” which is not on streaming services) and many more: