Music & Culture

Dolores O’Riordan, Voice of The Cranberries, Dies at 46 Years Old

Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of the band, The Cranberries, died in London on Mon. Jan 15 2018. She was 46. Although details of her cause of death have not been released, police say that the case is being treated as non-suspicious. The Cranberries were founded in Limerick, Ireland, where Ms. O’Riordan and her band-mates are regarded as local heroes.

In 1989, founding band members Mike and Noel Hogan began to advertise for a female lead singer following the departure of their original front-man. Ms. O’Riordan responded, and was subsequently hired after she crafted the lyrics, and melody, to what would later be their hit, “Linger.”  The song was included in their debut album in 1993, “Everybody Else is Doing it, So Why Can’t We?” Although the album was not fashionable in the United Kingdom at first, the Cranberries would later be recognized by MTV in the United States, and be pushed into the mainstream wave. Both “Linger,” and the album’s first single, “Dreams” achieved chart recognition.

Listening to early Cranberries, it is easy to tell that Ms. O’Riordan’s voice was a key factor in their success. Her pitch is unique and unmistakable, at times subdued, but others unrestricted. This range can easily be heard in “Dreams,” as she begins by practically breathing the lyrics, and then later giving tribal-like chants.

Not long after their debut did the Cranberries come to a turning point. The shift can most easily be attributed to O’Riordan’s writing of the band’s most impactful song, “Zombie.” O’Riordan wrote the song in response to the bombing of Warrington, England by the Irish Republic Army (IRA) on March 20, 1993. The attack killed two children. She intended to make a statement about the Irish fight for independence, and to advocate for peace. Style-wise, the song displays a more heavy and raw sound, which personifies its subject matter. After, “Zombie,” some leaning could be seen in the Cranberries’ work towards songs of a social-political subject matter.

After the Cranberries went on hiatus in 2003, Ms. O’Riordan began a solo career. She released two albums, “Are You Listening?” and “No Baggage.” The band reunited six years later, and went on to release an acoustic album with re-recordings of past songs featuring a string quartet.

Ms. O’Riordan is survived by her three children and her mother. Altogether her discography includes nine albums, not including collections and live recordings.

Featured Image: Instagram (@thecranberries)