The world has lost another great artist. Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer and the source of The Cranberries’ distinctive alternative rock/grunge sound that dominated the music scene back in the 1990s, passed away on Monday in London. She was 46.
Her passing – which remains unexplained, as of writing – came as a shock to her family, friends and loyal fans as she has posted on Facebook just before Christmas that she was “feeling good” and has done her “first bit of gigging in months.” This was taken by many as a sign that she would be performing again soon, following the cancellation of the remaining European dates of their tour in May due to what the official Cranberries website cited as “medical reason associated with a back problem.” The Irish singer was in the British capital for a recording session, according to a statement from her publicist.
As soon as the news broke out, other artists and fans quickly expressed sorrow over the singer’s death and honored her musical contributions.
Sad day for 90’s kids for losing a true icon. RIP Dolores O’Riordan
— Jake Ejercito (@unoemilio) January 15, 2018
“Sad day for ’90s kids for losing a true icon. RIP Dolores O’ Riordan,” local celebrity Jake Ejercito tweeted.
Just heard the sad sad news about the talented and gifted Dolores O’Riordan passing away today. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends. In her honour We’ll be playing her music loud and proud tonight. RIP Dolores.
— the script (@thescript) January 15, 2018
“Just heard the sad, sad news about the talented and gifted Dolores O’Riordan passing away today. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends. In her honour, we’ll be playing her music loud and proud tonight. RIP, Dolores,” Irish rock band The Script said in a tweet.
To celebrate Dolores O’Riordan’s life and incredible talent, here are some of our favorites from The Cranberries’s vast discography you can listen to today:
1. Free to Decide
The second single off of their third studio album, “To the Faithful Departed,” Free to Decide was about free will, evident in the opening lines, “I live as I choose or I will not live at all.” In a 1996 interview with MTV, Dolores said the song was a response to harsh media criticism and treatment. “In that song, I was saying it’s not worth me turning into a real bitch and losing everything spiritually. Because I work too hard, and If I want to take three weeks off I’ll take them, and to hell with everybody else – it’s my life,” she said. The single peaked at #2 on the Canadian charts.
Dreams was the band’s debut single, introducing the sound of The Cranberries to the world. The single – filled with ringing chords, jangling individual notes, vibrating feedback, oscillating tremolo, and the lead singer’s yodel – talked about a woman’s irresistible, dream-like love for someone. In a Songfacts interview, Dolores revealed that the song is about her first love.”I wrote that about my first love when I was living in Ireland. It’s about feeling really in love for the first time,” she added. The band’s dreams and hopes for their debut most likely came true, as the first single from their album, “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?” reached the Top 15 of the US Billboard’s Hot 100 Airplay and the top 30 on the UK charts in early 1994.
In Linger, the follow-up track for Dreams, Dolores wrote about the regret she felt about a soldier she had once fallen in love with and the way she “reacted to infatuation.” Its emotional and acoustic arrangement was a huge departure from the band’s usual sound, but it was worth it. The single became their very first major hit, peaking at #3 in the Republic of Ireland, #8 in the United States, and #14 in the United Kingdom. It remained on the Billboard Hot 100 for 24 weeks.
The third studio album showed the more raw and dark sound of the band. Salvation, in particular, delved on the topic of drug abuse. In a 1996 interview, drummer Fergal Lawler said that even in the band’s small hometown of Limerick in Ireland, it happens. “You walk around the place and go to pubs at night and you see people drinking water because they’re on ecstasy or whatever. It’s quite scary to see that… Nothing can prepare you for that kind of thing. You see your brother’s friends who are 16-year-olds and they’re totally out of it,” he described. The single was #1 on the US Billboard’s Modern Rock chart for four weeks, reached #8 in the Irish charts and peaked at #13 in the UK.
Zombie, which is the lead single from their second album, remains their most popular single to date. In fact, Filipino karaoke sessions are never complete without at least one person repetitively singing “Zombie,” as if summoning one right out of the Walking Dead series. The song’s inspiration, unfortunately, is just as harrowing as a human-eating creature. The song is about the violence happening in Northern Ireland in the 1990s, where a bomb exploded and killed two kids and injured dozens. “I remember at the time there were a lot of bombs going off in London and the Troubles were pretty bad,” she told Team Rock in an interview. “I remember being on tour and being in the UK at the time when the child died, and just being really sad about it all. These bombs are going off in random places. It could have been anyone, you know?” The song topped charts in many countries and on the US rock chart, going platinum in Australia and Germany. It went on to beat Michael Jackson and TLC for “Best Song” at the 1995 MTV Europe Music Awards.
6. Ode to My Family
After achieving much success in their debut album, Dolores yearned for her “simple, old days and the warmth and security of family life” as a child from a small town. This is exactly what she sang in the second single Ode to My Family from their second studio album, “No Need to Argue.” In a 2002 interview with Hot Press, the lead singer said the song is especially heartbreaking for “people who’ve lost their parents,” sending them through “that weird self-consciousness about certain relationships.” The song was a hit in most of the European countries where it was released, peaking at #4 in France, its highest position internationally, and #5 in Australia.
7. When You’re Gone
When You’re Gone is the third single released after Salvation and Free to Decide from the band’s third studio album. While this is not as explosive on chart performance as Zombie was, the rock ballad remained special and personal for Dolores. “Every time I sing this song, I can see my grandparents, ’cause when people died, did they really go or are they with us? You know, you wonder. Well, I can see my grandparents… and this song’s called When You’re Gone,” she shared in 2010.
We miss you now that you’re gone too, Dolores.
The Cranberries first shot to international fame with their 1993 debut album, “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?” They went on to sell over 40 million records worldwide.
Photo from Manila Bulletin