The Voice of The Cranberries

Even if you think you don’t know anything about the band The Cranberries, chances are that their 90’s anthem “in your head, in your head, zombie, zombie, zom be e e e” burrowed its way into the recesses of your brain, triggered every time it comes on the radio.

The Cranberries began in Limerick, Ireland in 1989 but did not get off the ground right away. Their original lead singer Niall Quinn was never fully comfortable in her leading role and left the band after only several months. In 1990, Dolores O’Riordan responded to an ad requesting a lead singer. After she wrote lyrics to some instrumental tracks, the band immediately hired her. Thus, The Cranberries found their sound that will define them for the rest of their career.

They began in the heart of the 90’s alternative rock era that, along with grunge, defined the era and introduced many artists and inspired the next generation of musicians. Although there were many bands that emerged from this era, some stood the test of time while others faded, The Cranberries were able to stylistically differentiate themselves from the crowd.

The Cranberries were grouped in the alternative rock category partly because it generally fit their style and sound, but otherwise because it was broad based genre that encompassed many other bands. On the surface, they fit the bill, but The Cranberries added elements of other music and even cultures that set them apart from the typical mold.

O’Riordan’s voice is a light shadow of fellow musician Alanis Morissette, both possessing an edgy and unapologetic voice that carries the music. However, O’Riordan’s unique advantage comes with her natural Irish accent that she is unafraid to let sweep over her gorgeous voice. She was also able to produce an atypical natural effect to her voice that resembles a type of yodel with a reverb aspect. This is most recognizable in their hit song “Zombie.”

Unfortunately, continuing with the tragic theme of the past two years, 2018 has started with the loss of Dolores O’Riordan. She passed away on January 15, 2018 at the age of 46. These losses, especially of someone as unique as O’Riordan, are never easy to cope with.

Today, in her honor I wanted to take a look at some memorable moments and facts about O’Riordan and The Cranberries.


Awards & Accolades

As I mentioned, The Cranberries were highly regarded and popular in the 90’s alternative rock scene. Since around 1993, they have sold well over forty million records all over the globe. Four out of their seven albums were featured on the Billboard 200 chart and had eight different top twenty singles.

Their all-time most popular hit “Zombie” won best song at the European MTV music awards and their 1994 album No Need To Argue was named the Best Selling Album in 1996 at the Juno Awards. The album also a 7x Platinum album in the United States with over 7 million units sold! It also went Platinum in countries all over the world.


When A Rough Idea Turns Into A Hit

Back in 1989 when the Cranberries found themselves without a singer, Dolores O’Riordan became the answer to the band’s desperate need for a new direction and fresh ideas.

After answering the ad, O’Riordan wrote lyrics to a few unfinished tracks, not thinking any of these “sketches” would turn into something tangible let alone successful. However, one of the songs she composed in these yearly years would become the chart-topping hit “Linger.” The song was not only of the Cranberries’ most popular tunes but was featured in various media outlets and was certified Gold in the US and UK.





Alternative Meets Classical

Even if your opera knowledge isn’t top-notch, chances are you have heard of Luciano Pavarotti. Unlike many other professional opera singers, Pavarotti used his sensational and overwhelming tenor vocal skills to blend his operatic roots with popular music.

By appealing to many audience’s musical tastes, Pavarotti became “one of the most commercially successful tenors of all time.” He would occasionally collaborate with various artists, creating spectacular performances and sometimes albums as well.

On one special occasion while performing the opera classic “Ave Maria” by Schubert which he was known for, Dolores O’Riordan was invited on stage as a special guest. Although she isn’t an opera singer, she gives a wonderful performance and shows that her voice is well-equipped for various vocal styles.





No, the Cranberries were not at the original Woodstock music festival. But, they were at the next best thing, Woodstock 94. They played a memorable set on the Saturday of the festival which propelled them into the popular music limelight.





Cool Side Note

As an interesting piece of trivia knowledge for you, Dolores appeared in the 2006 Adam Sandler movie “Click.” She was the singer in a wedding band towards the end of the movie and played a rendition of her song “Linger” with a string band.


Rest in peace Dolores O’Riordan


Patrick Ortiz 


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