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Music / The Cranberries

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Left to right: Fergal Lawler, Dolores O'Riordan, Noel Hogan and Mike Hogan
But I'm in so deep
You know I'm such a fool for you
You got me wrapped around your finger, ah, ha, ha
Do you have to let it linger?
Do you have to, do you have to,
Do you have to let it linger?

The Cranberries were an Irish alternative pop/rock band. They formed in Limerick in 1989. The original lineup consisted of lead singer Niall Quinn, lead guitarist Noel Hogan, his brother Mike Hogan on bass guitar, and Fergal Lawler on drums. The band was originally called "The Cranberry Saw Us". After less than a year Quinn left the band and the remaining members put out an advertisement for a new singer. Dolores O'Riordan responded to the ad by writing lyrics to some band demos. The song she came up with was "Linger". The band hired her.

Their first album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? became a hit both in Britain and America and spawned the hit singles "Dreams" and "Linger". They followed that with No Need to Argue, which featured a somewhat heavier sound, especially in the single "Zombie", which became the biggest hit the group ever had. Their third album, To the Faithful Departed, filled with ultra-serious songs about subjects such as death, the murder of John Lennon, and the war in Bosnia, sold well but not as well as No Need to Argue, and became a commercial setback for the band. Bury the Hatchet and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee received mixed reviews and marginal sales. The band then broke up, embarking on an 11-year hiatus (in which both O'Riordan and Noel Hogan pursued solo projects) before reuniting and putting out new album Roses in 2012.

On January 15th, 2018, Dolores O'Riordan was found dead at the age of 46 in London, where she was doing some recording sessions. Her death was later reported in September that year to be the result of an alcohol-influenced drowning. The last recordings she made with the rest of the band were released in 2019 as In the End. As the title indicates, this was definitively the Cranberries' final album, as the rest of the band had no desire whatsoever to continue without their departed friend.


Studio Albums

  • Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? (1993)
  • No Need to Argue (1994)
  • To the Faithful Departed (1996)
  • Bury the Hatchet (1999)
  • Wake up and Smell the Coffee (2001)
  • Roses (2012)
  • Something Else (2017) — acoustic versions of Cranberries hits, with three new songs
  • In the End (2019)

Compilation Albums

  • Treasure Box for Boys and Girls (2002)
  • Stars: The Best of 1992-2002 (2002)
  • 20th Century Masters The Millennium Collection: The Best of The Cranberries (2005)
  • Gold (2008)
  • Icon: The Cranberries (2010)
  • Dreams - The Collection (2013)

Live Albums

  • Bualadh Bosnote  - The Cranberries Live (2009)
  • Live 2010 (2011)
  • London 2012: Live at The Hammersmith Apollo (2013)

The Cranberries provide examples of the following tropes:

  • Appeal to Worse Problems: "Free To Decide" has a couple of lines that suggest the paparazzi focus on something more important than celebrities:
    You must have nothing more with your time to do.
    There's a war in Russia and Sarajevo too.
  • Author Tract: A lot of O'Riordan's lyrics.
  • Band of Relatives: Mike and Noel Hogan are brothers.
  • Break-Up Song: "Daffodil Lament" and "I Can't Be with You".
  • Boyish Short Hair: For a good period of The '90s and briefly during their reunion tour, Dolores sported this hairstyle and even sported a buzz cut for the cover picture of To the Faithfully Departed.
  • Call-Back: The cover of acoustic album Something Else is a recreation of the cover of No Need to Argue, with the band sitting on the same couch, affecting the same poses, but 23 years older.
  • Cover Version: Their cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way" on Legacy: a Tribute to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. They also did a cover of Carpenters' "Close to You" for the tribute album If I Were a Carpenter.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: The woman mentioned the beginning of "All Over Now" is apparently a Domestic Abuse victim using the usual excuse:
    She told the man that she fell on the ground.
    She was afraid that the truth would be found.
  • Deliberately Monochrome:
    • The music videos for "Linger" and "Ode to My Family" are entirely black and white.
    • The music video for "Zombie" has scenes of The Troubles and the band performing the song in black and white.
    • The scenes in the music video for "Ridiculous Thoughts" where the band is performing are in black and white.
    • The scenes in the music video for "When You're Gone" where the band is performing the song and where Dolores sings as people gather around her are in black and white.
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Salvation", in which Dolores O'Riordan admonishes kids to not do drugs, and she is not subtle about it.
  • Fading into the Next Song:
    • "Yeats' Grave" fades into "Daffodil Lament" on No Need to Argue
  • Gratuitous Latin: "adiuva me Domine deus"—"help me, O God" in Latin—from "Electric Blue Eyes".
  • Greatest Hits Album: Stars: The Best of 19922002, featuring all of the band's singles from the first five albums.
  • Grief Song:
    • "Cordell" was written as a tribute to Irish record producer Denny Cordell, who died in 1995.
    • "I'm Still Remembering" was written as a tribute to Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, who died in 1994.
  • Growing Up Sucks: "Just My Imagination" is all about reminiscing of your youth, and how the positive thoughts of the time hardly work outside the imagination.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics:
    • "Dreams" is noted for this. "Zombie" is a lesser case, as people only understand the pre-choruses and chorus.
    • Generally speaking, any Cranberries song is this for a non-Irish person due to Dolores' thick Limerick accent. There was one lyric video of "Promises" on YouTube where the uploader had misheard the line "so much for your eternal vows" as "so much for you retail lovers".
  • Lighter and Softer: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee in contrast to the more serious No Need to Argue, To the Faithful Departed and Bury the Hatchet, though the latter has the heartwarming songs "Just My Imagination" and "You and Me".
  • Long-Runner Line-up: The lineup remained the same for the band's existence.
  • Love Hurts: "Linger" is about a woman who knows her lover is cheating on her, but loves him too much to actually go through with the breakup, leaving her wishing he'd just go ahead and dump her himself so she can move on.
  • Love Triangle: "Delilah"—"He'll never be your lover"
  • Lyric Video: Lyric videos have been released for "Zombie" and "Daffodil Lament".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The band's music was frequently relaxing and even optimistic sounding. Dolores' lyrics on the other hand were almost always angry or sad. "Linger" for example seems like a pretty love song when you listen to the choruses, but when you listen to the verses it's obvious that the subject of the song has cheated on her.
  • Lyrical Shoehorn: O'Riordan, who wrote all the band's lyrics, was prone to this, like with the exceedingly awkward lyric of "Loud and Clear"
    People are strangers/People deranged are
  • Male Band, Female Singer: Dolores O'Riordan as the lead female and the only woman in the group.
  • Mama Bear: Or as Dolores calls it, her "Animal Instinct," which is the second single from Bury The Hatchet.
  • Match Cut: In the beginning of the "Linger" video, from a blinking light to Dolores O'Riordan's eye opening.
  • Maternally Challenged: "Animal Instinct" is about a woman worrying she might be this.
  • Murder Ballad: "I Just Shot John Lennon"
  • Non-Appearing Title: Among others, "Sunday", "Daffodil Lament", and "Ode To My Family."
  • Posthumous Collaboration: O'Riordan had only recorded demos for In the End at the time of her death. Her band mates managed to stitch together an album with those demos and a little assistance from a backup singer who sang with O'Riordan during the band's live shows.
  • Protest Song: A lot of their songs, including most notably "Zombie" and "Salvation".
  • Pun-Based Title: "The Cranberry Saw Us" might be the worst band name in history.
  • Punctuation Changes the Meaning: A bit of Ambiguous Syntax in the first verse of "Linger": "If you could return, don't let it burn, don't let it fade." While at face value, this is a plea for someone to return and not let the relationship fall apart, there's a slight pause after each "don't", so the lyrics can also be interpreted as "don't, let it burn; don't, let it fade", or in other words "don't return, let it burn, let it fade", the complete opposite of the alternate interpretation. The song is from the perspective of a woman who wants her relationship to end due to her partner not taking it seriously, but is still too deeply in love to go through with a breakup herself, so either meaning can work in this context.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: After 11 years off.
  • Record Producer: Stephen Street has produced five of their seven albums.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The Niall Quinn era demo track "How's It Going to Bleed?" (from before Dolores' time in the band) had some of its melody and atmosphere reused in "Fee Fi Fo" on Bury the Hatchet, 10 years later. Also, "Linger"'s chords were originally written for a song of the Quinn era, though the song is largely Dolores's composition.
    • The tune in "Promises", in particular the bass riff, is very similar to that of popular B-Side "So Cold in Ireland", and when "Promises" was debuted live in 1998 fans made this comparison.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Dolores O'Riordan, frequently.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: "Zombie," which doesn't shy away from the grisly imagery.
  • Smoldering Shoes: In the "Promises" video, the cowboy fires at the witch/scarecrow, but she catches the bullets in her teeth. She then opens her mouth and emits a ray at the cowboy, leaving a smoldering pair of cowboy boots.
  • Song Style Shift:
    • "Daffodil Lament" turns from a mournful dirge about a woman trapped in a bad relationship to a joyful, optimistic tune with a ringing guitar line after she leaves him. Then there's another weird, mournful dirge (this one wordless) at the end, possibly indicating future uncertainty.
    • "Sunday" starts off as a new age style song with vocal and strings, followed by a slight moment of silence, after which drums kick in and it becomes a melodic indie song.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "Yeats' Grave" quotes from a poem by the man himself.
  • Stocking Filler: In "Schizophrenic Playboy" Dolores sings of a woman getting dressed up sexy for a date, with "fishnet stockings and a bottle of wine."
  • Title-Only Chorus: "Just My Imagination" (aside from two stray "It was"). Also, In The End has "Wake Me When It's Over."
  • Torch Song: "Will You Remember?" seems to be one.
  • Translated Cover Version: "Dreams" has been translated into Cantonese as "Dream Lover" and Mandarin as "Elude", with both versions being sung by Chinese singer Faye Wong.
  • Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: You could be correct, and call it "Yeats's Grave". Or you could adopt the wrong but very common convention that reflects how people usually pronounce possessives (and how you're singing it), and call it "Yeats' Grave". But calling it "Yeat's Grave" is definitely wrong.
  • War Is Hell: "Zombie", about The Troubles.
  • Weird West: The video for "Promises" pits a sheriff against a resurrected witch, Showdown at High Noon-style... and the witch delivers a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Wham Line: "Forever Yellow Skies."
    Forever, I'll be forever holding you
    Forever, I'll be forever holding you
    Responsible, responsible, responsible