There is a strong sense of deja vu about the Miley Cyrus Vs Sinead O'Connor feud – and that not just because of Miley's homage to the Nothing Compares 2 U video.
The year is 1992. Madonna, the biggest female pop star in the world, has stripped, bound and gagged herself for her new book of erotica, Sex.
The press is in uproar. Nobody can decide if the 'Material Girl' is committing career suicide by 'going porno' or simply playing the publicity game better than anyone.
While they are pondering this, Sinead O'Connor goes on Saturday Night Live and, after an a capella version of War by Bob Marley, rips up a picture of Pope John Paul II, in the process striking a nerve that Madonna, with her high-gloss peep show, just can't touch.
There is no ambiguity or marketing angle to this, but it was most definitely career suicide, and Madonna criticised the Irish singer in the press.
Sinead responded by saying that Madonna was a poor role model for women, since so much of her act appeared to be playing up to male fantasy.
This, for Sinead, was the ultimate sin – her shaven-headed look had come about in direct defiance of a record company directive to amp up her feminine sex appeal.
Still, it was an accusation that nobody gave much credence to – Madonna seemed too thoroughly in control to be cast as the pliant pop puppet – and throughout the Nineties she continued to cavort her way to further millions.
Meanwhile, Sinead, for her prescient piece of prime-time theatre, was forever banished to the indie charts.
Thankfully that didn't shut her up. She has built a musical career on personal integrity and total artistic control – the record executives and their diamond-loving mistresses have come and gone.
There have been outlandish announcements, frequent retirements and, at times, a worrying sense that she had become a tabloid sideshow. But history proved her right about the Church and, outside of Ireland at least, she has continued to build on her large, loyal following (Nothing Compares has more than three times the number of hits on YouTube as Madonna's biggest hit, Vogue).
Now, as one of the elder stateswomen of rock, she has offered her counsel to the latest tribute act. Her initial letter to Miley Cyrus was tender in its concern.
". . . You will obscure your talent by allowing yourself to be pimped, whether its the music business or yourself doing the pimping," she wrote, before warning the former star of the Disney series, Hannah Montana that "we have to be extremely careful what messages we send to other women".
What's almost touching is that she is addressing Miley Cyrus as a pop daughter, when nothing could be further from the truth.
As a teenager, Sinead was an unbiddable, iconoclastic singer who happened, against all odds, to wander into the blinding headlights of world stardom. Her shaven head and simple, stark videos seemed to mark the end of the big-hair-and-dry-ice of the Eighties.
As a performer, she was at her best live, when her soaring, melismatic voice was unadulterated by studio technology. She wrote protest songs about Thatcher's Britain, intensely personal compositions about love, sex and death.
For this she was garlanded with awards but turned them all down – like any great artist she always bites the hand that feeds. In her most famous videotape moment she cried a solitary, real tear, which sprung from the memory of the death of her mother.
By contrast Miley's 'tear' was supposedly inspired by the death of her dog.
She is a thoroughbred show pony. Groomed from the start for stardom, she suckles on the corporate teat as though it is second nature to her – part of the fallout from the VMAs was that Miley jeopardised her many endorsements.
Like Madonna, she is an entertainer whose monstrous ambition has been suspended, for now, in the fluid of pop music (yesterday it was acting, tomorrow it could be modelling).
Like Madonna, she has collaborated in the highly sexualised image that has been crafted for her: if reports can be believed, she was actually prevailed upon to tone down her infamous twerking performance at the VMAs – she wanted to go topless.
To Sinead, an old school feminist, this is everything that women in music should not be doing. For her, Miley is Vichy France, with tits.
She was wrong to think that the former Hannah Montana star would accept her 'mothering' with good grace.
The lesson of all of this is that she has nothing whatsoever in common with Miley Cyrus beyond the fact that they are both women and, at 20 years of age, looked amazing in continuous close up.
Sinead's website went down briefly during the week, probably driven into the ground by millions of American teenagers trying to see what the fuss was about.
The story of her guerrilla war on mainstream pop came full circle this weekend as Miley takes over hosting duties at Saturday Night Live; 21 years later the shock of 1992 is still remembered and Sinead's ban on that show is still in place.
Miley can twerk and mime her heart out, but it will take more than a glycerine tear to fill Sinead's boots.