A couple weeks ago on Monday, January 15th, music lost another iconic voice with the passing of Dolores O’Riordan. O’Riordan was the lead singer of famed ’90s alternative rock band The Cranberries. It was reported that she was in London for a recording session the morning of her death. No major details have been released yet, just that she was found dead in her London hotel room and her death is not being considered suspicious by the police.
For those who are not familiar with the band, here is a brief background. Originating out of Limerick, Ireland, The Cranberries were formed in the year 1989 by four men. The following year the lead singer was replaced by O’Riordan. Over their career, the band went on the win multiple awards and had eight top 20 singles on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, including “Linger”, “Zombie” and “Dreams”. Their discography contains seven albums, four of which reached the Billboard Top 20. Soon after the release of their fourth album, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, the band took a six year hiatus. During this time, Dolores focused primarily on her solo career. Once The Cranberries reunited they released three more albums. Their most recent project, Something Else, was an acoustic album released back in April of 2017.
If you grew up listening to ‘80s rock like I did, you know a good love song when you hear one. With that being said, I think everyone can agree that “Linger” is not only one of the most well known love songs but a great one at that. Sung by the high breathy voice of O’Riordan, it’s one that you can’t not sing along too. And if you’re like me, you sing it at the top of your lungs with your eyes closed.
I love this quote from an article in the New York Times announcing the death of O’Riordan, it says, “In the band, her voice — high and breathy, but far more determined than fragile — rode atop a rich wash of electric guitars. Her unmistakable Irish accent and the Celtic inflections of her melodies gave her singing a plaintive individuality and a flinty core.” It’s the perfect way to describe her voice, high and breathy. It’s a bit of an acquired taste, so some people might have a hard time listening to it. Nowadays a lot of artists, especially female, have very similar sounding voices, and that is why I appreciate O’Riordan – hers has always stood out as being unique. Plain and simple. Few artists, old or current, are comparable to O’Riordan in that regard.
While I don’t have a super personal connection to The Cranberries, I’m a fan of their sound and what they did for music in the ‘90s. I would not consider myself a die hard, and by that I mean I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to listening to all of their music. All that said, when I heard the news of O’Riordans death, it shook me quite a bit. Vocal performances are not as widely appreciated as they used to be, so whenever we lose a great talent like Whitney, Michael, Prince, Dolores and so many others, we should all remember how voices are one of, if not the most important, instruments in music.