The music world is mourning the loss of Dolores O’Riordan. The lead singer of the Cranberries died suddenly in London today according to the band’s Facebook page. No cause of death was released. She was just 46 years old.
As one of the best-selling rock acts in Irish history, O’Riordan and the Cranberries managed to score multi-platinum albums in the mid-90s without shying away from serious issues. Even their biggest hits tackled heavy topics — both personal and political.
The Cranberries’ first album, Everybody Else is Doing it, So Why Can’t We?, found chart success in 1993 with breezy hits like “Dreams” and “Linger” rounding out a collection of bittersweet — and often angry — love songs. Their second album, No Need to Argue, broadened its scope in dramatic fashion when released in 1994. A good example is “Yeat’s Grave,” in which O’Riordan pays tribute to the spiritual poetry of William Butler Yeats.
Easily one of the Cranberries’ best known songs, “Zombie” was an instant MTV staple when the video it TV screens in 1994. The song is about the violence that plagued Northern Ireland for decades, specifically an IRA bombing that killed two children in 1993. “It’s the same old theme since 1916,” mourned O’Riordan.
The lead single from The Cranberries’ 1996 album To the Faithful Departed is an aggressive up-tempo rocker that tackles the issue of drug abuse, especially among children. O’Riordan didn’t waste any time getting to the point. The first lyrics say “to all the people doing lines, don’t do it… inject your soul with liberty.” While the band was criticized for being overly-preachy at the time, it didn’t make their message any less sincere.
Free to Decide
This bouncy pop song became a radio hit for the Cranberries in 1996, but its subject matter drifts toward a much darker tone. The lyrics lament how the burdens of the world, from personal struggles to global conflicts — like “war in Russia and Sarajevo too” — can weigh heavily on one’s mind. Despite the suggestion of despair, the song takes an uplifting tone in its refrain, promising “I’m not so suicidal after all.”
One of three new songs on Something Else, the Cranberries recent 2017 album of re-recordings, “Rupture” is an intensely personal view of depression. In interviews promoting the album, O’Riordan speaks of highs and lows in both her personal and professional lives, but seemed to have discovered the right balance. Even so, lyrics like “save me someone” are haunting.
While more information about Delores O’Riordan’s death will surface in upcoming days, TMZ is reporting the singer was “dreadfully depressed” in recent weeks. The life of Dolores O’Riordan was no doubt complicated, but she will be celebrated as an artist with a truly unique voice and perspective.
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