The Cranberries Brought Vocal Range to Gritty Grunge

This past Monday 46-year-old Dolores O’Riordan, frontwoman for The Cranberries, was found dead in her London hotel room.

Requested by her family the cause of death has been kept private. The Irish singer was in London for a recording session following the April release of their newest album Something Else. Her fellow bandmates say they and her family are “devastated.”

The Cranberries formed in 1989 and reached worldwide popularity with their hit “Linger” in 1993. During a time when gritty vocalist like Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder were the poster children for grunge and popular rock bands, O’Riordan brought sweet harmonies and wide vocal ranges to the charts.

Though “Linger” didn’t win any awards, everyone during that time knew the lyrics, “you got me wrapped around your finger, do you have to let it linger?” However, their 1994 album No Need To Argue became triple platinum and gave to the world “Zombie.”

“Zombie” became a number one hit on the EU charts and won Best Song for the 1995 MTV Europe Music Awards. O’Riordan wrote the song about the 1993 IRA Bombing in Warrington, England in memory of the two youngest victims from the attack.

The song is in E Minor, a key for more melancholy melodies, “Zombie” has every making of a grunge rock protest song. Distorted guitar riffs accompanied by O’Riordan’s soothing vocals made the song an instant hit and unique for the grunge era. Her vocal range for the song goes from high to low, soothing to passionate and includes a guttural throaty voicing of the word “zombie.”

O’Riordan paved the way for other female rock singers that rose during the ‘90s like Gwen Stefani, Shirley Manson of Garbage and Alanis Morissette. Dozens of musicians expressed their sorrow for O’Riordan’s passing, like Duran Duran, Questlove, Wavves, Michelle Branch, Best Coast and U2.

“The band are floored but it’s of course her family we’re all thinking of right now. Out of the West came this storm of a voice – she had such strength of conviction yet she could speak to the fragility in all of us. Limerick’s ‘Bel canto’.” Bono, The Edge, Adam and Larry.

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O’Riordan will sorely be missed, but her voice will forever linger as an inspiration to all badass female rock stars.

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