TORONTO – Sinéad O’Connor’s new album is called “I’m not Bossy, I’m the Boss” — a reference to Sheryl Sandberg’s campaign encouraging female leadership — but the outspoken singer rejects the feminist label.
“I don’t consider myself engaged in the feminist movement, I’m not educated about it to be honest,” the 47-year-old singer said during a recent telephone interview from Bray, Ireland. “I tend to avoid anything with an ‘ist’ attached to the end of it.”
O’Connor made headlines last year for a spat with pop singer Miley Cyrus after the 21-year-old compared her “Wrecking Ball” video to O’Connor’s memorable 1990 clip for “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
“Real empowerment of yourself as a woman would be to in (the) future refuse to exploit your body or your sexuality in order for men to make money from you,” she wrote in open letter posted on Facebook, referring to Cyrus’s video in which she rides naked on a wrecking ball.
After Cyrus dismissed the comment on Twitter by alluding to O’Connor’s battle with mental illness, the Irish singer posted a response on Facebook characterizing the former Disney star as “an anti-female tool of the anti-female music industry.”
O’Connor adopted her trademark bald look early in her career to avoid being sexualized by record executives. Her new album, however, features the performer in a short black wig and fitted leather dress while clutching a guitar.
“I knew everyone would run the shots because no one has ever seen me with hair,” O’Connor said. “They would run the shots and it would draw attention to the album.”
O’Connor describes her latest release as a pop/rock offering, influenced by Chicago blues.
“I wanted to write love songs for a long time,” she said. “I also wanted to write songs that I would enjoy playing live.”
The first single “Take Me To Church” is “not about going to church in the religious sense,” she states — not a surprising admission from the artist who shocked TV audiences by tearing up a picture of the pope during a 1992 “Saturday Night Live” appearance.
Rather, the song is a reference to the song “Get Me to the Church on Time” from the musical “My Fair Lady,” said O’Connor. But instead of getting to church to get married, O’Connor’s song concludes “I am only one I should adore.”
“‘Take Me To Church’ is her eureka moment,” O’Connor said. “Going from having a lot of illusions about romance to actually understanding it was herself she is longing for the whole time.”
The “her” referred to here is one of three female characters O’Connor writes about on the record. The character featured in the first single is the most important one — on a journey to actualizing self-love, O’Connor explained.
“The main thing that the character learns on the record is the difference between reality and illusion when it comes to romantic love,” O’Connor said.
“I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss” is out Monday.