As usual, the ‘crazy woman’ gets silenced and erased, but Sinead O’Connor heralded grunge. She was the opposite of every single thing a pop star was expected to be in the 80’s. (I would specify female pop star, but the standards for hair and makeup were pretty high for men too.) The same year Madonna attended the Grammy awards dressed as a pastiche of Marilyn Monroe, O’Connor performed in ugly jeans and no makeup, armed with nothing but raw emotion. At the 1993 MTV awards she walked the red carpet beside her friend Courtney Love (also dressed as a pastiche of Marilyn Monroe) but she’s usually cropped out of those iconic photos. There’s no question that she’s alienated many of her fans by being such an unreliable narrator of her own life, and that’s a shame. Her later displays of instability have served to distract from her real legacy. We would do well to recall how game-changing she really was.


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