In evidence of one of the more strange and pointless rivalries that exist among fans of music, when I was a teenager and young adult, a close friend and I had an argument as to which of the noted Irish bands of the mid 1990’s we preferred. My own choice was the Corrs, and my friend’s choice was the Cranberries. As is often the case, no decision needs to be made among them. While they were definitely very different bands in terms of their approach to music, both came from Ireland and both had a love of Irish music and a deep interest in Irish history as part of their essential musical presentation. In the case of the Cranberries, this interest in Irish history and its continuing influence led the band to create quite a lot of music that is both deeply personal and deeply political in nature. The Carnberries did not shy away from either the beautiful aspects of Irish life and culture or the darkness of its politics, and it is in the intersection of the personal and the political that they ended up creating music that has resonated with a larger public and has had an influence on the way that the rest of the world sees Irish music as more than folk music or pop music, but also music that speaks to the political as well in a way that had not been seen since U2, and the Cranberries, it should be noted, handled their material quite differently than U2 did.
The Influence Of The Cranberries
While it is easy to look at the way that other artists, especially early alternative artists, influenced the Cranberries, it is also worthwhile to ponder how it is that they influenced others. Shortly before her death, judged to be an accidental drowning as a result of alcohol intoxication, Cranberries lead singer Dolores O’Riordan had given permission for the cover of Cranberries song “Zombie” by the rock group Bad Wolves, which became a serious hit afterwards and a fitting tribute to one of the band’s best known songs. Similarly, the group’s early song “Dreams” was sung by a Northern Irish duo Saint Sister at the funeral of someone who had been killed by the New IRA . Although they were most popular during a short period between 1992 and 1999 during the release of their first four studio albums, the group’s influence on others, and the way that the songs they sang became part of the way in which romantic longings as well as political frustrations were expressed by a generation of young people entered into the public culture in a way that has indicated that the Cranberries are here to stay as a musical act even if the band itself disbanded upon the death of its lead singer.
Why The Cranberries Belong In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Despite having limited crossover appeal for their singles because of their status as a foreign alternative act, the Cranberries have managed to sell more than 40 million copies of their albums, making them among the best selling acts of all time. Their first three albums, 1993’s “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?,” 1994’s even more successful follow-up “No Need To Argue,” and 1996’s “To The Faithful Departed” all went multi-platinum in the United States, and 1999’s “Bury The Hatchet” went gold. These four albums spawned hits that were successful on the US alternative songs chart and occasionally led to crossover success, like the #8 hit “Linger,” the double A-sided #22 hit “Free To Decide/When You’re Gone,” and the #42 “Dreams” as well as songs like “Promises,” “Zombie,” “Ode To My Family,” and “Salvation” which had massive Alternative airplay but were never released formally as singles . If the later albums of the band did not have the same commercial success, albums like 2001’s “Wake Up And Smell The Coffee,” 2012’s “Roses,” 2017’s “Something Else,” and 2019’s “In The End” won critical appeal–their last album was nominated for a best Rock album Grammy despite its poor sales–and demonstrated the band’s commitment to emotional authenticity about their personal lives and Ireland’s history and everything else. That authenticity is ultimately what makes them worthwhile to induct in the RRHOF, as an example to later acts.
Why The Cranberries Aren’t In The RRHOF
By and large, foreign acts have not fared well in the RRHOF, and the Cranberries are not making any new music, and so their case rests especially on their four albums in the 1990’s and the belief in the importance of those songs by the voters and nominating committee of the RRHOF. So far it hasn’t happened, but there is still time for the band to get their due.
Verdict: Put them in. Even if Dolores O’Riordan is no longer here to sing with them some of those powerful songs of personal and political frustration, the band’s body of work is well deserving of the honor .