Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Cranberries

Sound Familiar?

“Linger,” “Dreams,” “Zombie”

Who Are They?

Irish hit-makers who sold more albums than all of your favorite ‘90s bands combined.

Before the British invasion of the mid to late ‘90s (courtesy of bands like Oasis and Blur), a few guys from Ireland decided to start a band. In 1989, brothers Mike and Noel Hogan formed The Cranberry Saw Us, the first incarnation of the group we all know and love. In order to become The Cranberries, original singer Niall Quinn had to beat it to make room for Dolores O’Riordan.

The reason to hire Dolores? She auditioned with a rough version of a little song called “Linger.” Perhaps you’ve heard of it?

With a new singer and a new name (Dolores made the executive decision to switch to The Cranberries), the four-piece recorded a demo tape and made sure it spread all over the UK. Soon, they were signed to Island Records and released their debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, in 1993.

“Dreams,” the first single, was released a year prior to the album. Surprisingly, neither song nor album garnered much attention. It wasn’t until they started touring with Suede that The Cranberries caught the attention of MTV. The power MTV wielded in the ‘90s was pretty impressive (music television? Imagine that!), so once the video for the second single “Linger” was put into heavy rotation, everyone and their mother knew The Cranberries.

The airplay on MTV catapulted Everybody Else Is Doing It to #1 on the UK Album Chart and paved the way for the band’s second, more successful offering, No Need to Argue in 1994. How much more successful? Well, the album went triple platinum within a year and spawned the number one hit “Zombie.”

Unfortunately, the novelty of an obviously Irish band began to wear off after the release of To the Faithful Departed in 1996. Critics loved it, but audiences didn’t dig it as much. Faithful did manage to squeeze out one last number one hit for The Cranberries (“Salvation”), so it wasn’t a total waste.

By the time Bury the Hatchet was released in 1999, rumors of Dolores’ impending solo career began to swirl. Everyone knew that The Cranberries were nearing the end, but no one was willing to admit it.

Where Are They Now?

Reunited and it feels so good! (You wouldn’t believe how long I’ve wanted to use that reference in one of these entries).

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (released in 2001) was the last gasping breath from our Irish heroes before their hiatus in 2003. The Cranberries finished up the biggest tour of their careers in July 2000 and went on to open for The Rolling Stones in 2003.

Even though they teased fans with new material during those early-2000s shows, the hiatus came before the release of a sixth studio album.

Dolores released her solo album Are You Listening? in 2007, while her bandmates started new projects (Mono Band and The Low Network, among others). The (inevitable) reunion occurred in January 2009 in celebration of Dolores becoming an Honorary Patron of University Philosophical Society (Trinity College, Dublin).

First came a North American/European tour and the continuous denial of a new album. Two years later: “Just kidding, guys. We were recording a new album the whole time.”

But Why The Cranberries?

That new album that they refused to tell us about is called Roses and it drops on Feb. 27. Mark your calendars, kids.

What Does Sam Think?

I’d like to make a confession: I love bands with heavy accents. Admit it, you do, too. If you can listen to “Zombie” without immediately falling in love with Dolores O’Riordan’s sultry Irish crooning, there must be something seriously wrong with you.

Accent fetish aside, I love The Cranberries. Everyone loves The Cranberries. Your mother probably loves The Cranberries. Seriously. Go ask her. She’ll start singing “Linger” and you’ll get uncomfortable and feel embarrassed for her.

There’s a reason why this band was so huge in the ‘90s. Yes, they had catchy tunes, but they also infused that marketable alternative sound with a little Celtic fire. Americans love European exports. Anything that doesn’t remind us of baseball and apple pie is on another level, man. (Sorry. The snark is heavy today.)

The Cranberries had what bands like Oasis and Blur had: mainstream appeal and foreign intrigue. They weren’t foreign in the sense that they spoke another language (they didn’t anyway). They were foreign to us because they weren’t part of the dominating “Seattle sound.” Everybody Else Is Doing It came out when grunge was still a thing, yet it crushed the competition. That’s impressive.

Aside from the foreign appeal, the band was just plain talented. Whenever I hear “Zombie” or “Linger,” I just feel like everything is going to be a-okay. Maybe it’s the nostalgia embedded in my soul, or maybe this snarky blogger actually has a heart. Either way, The Cranberries owned the ‘90s and they’ve got a fan in me.

-- Sam Boyer, reporting from the ‘90s.

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