2017 was a particularly tough year with the loss of so many musicians, and 2018 is starting out with more sadness. Dolores O’ Riordan, lead singer of The Cranberries and one of the most recognizable female vocalists in history, has passed away at the age of 46. Their influence, and specifically, O’Riordan’s leadership, can be felt in the generations of musicians who have followed them, as described beautifully by Hozier: “My first time hearing Dolores O’Riordan’s voice was unforgettable. It threw into question what a voice could sound like in that context of rock. I’d never heard somebody use their instrument in that way.”
The Cranberries released very few covers in their career: two for tribute albums, and a third, a cover of Elvis Presley’s “In The Ghetto” on their album Wake Up and Smell the Coffee.
The first of two compilation covers, “(They Long to Be) Close to You”, can be found on If I Were a Carpenter, a tribute album to The Carpenters. O’Riordan’s voice is the immediate tip off that we have flashed forward almost 25 years from the original hit. With sparse instrumentals, the Irish lilt is especially pronounced, as is the slightly darker tone of O’Riordan’s voice from Karen’s sweetly sung rendition. It’s a lovely cover, and a standout on the album.
In a completely different vein, The Cranberries contributed an effective cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” on the album Legacy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. The instrumentation feels very similar, with that head bopping rock beat and the expected riffs. O’Riordan’s smooth, clear vocals present a much cleaner version of the melody than the original though. Her fantastic little slides add flair to the song and elevate it from being otherwise nearly identical to something different.
The Cranberries’ sleek “In the Ghetto” cover is yet another instrumental throwback to the original, with O’Riordan providing the standout vocals. (Honestly, at this point, I think she could have made the phone book sound amazing.) Storytelling was a huge part of The Cranberries songwriting, so this particular song plays to O’Riordan’s strength. The beauty of all three of these covers is that she didn’t need to change much of the actual melody line-her voice quality was so unique, that in itself was enough to create a standout cover.
Take a moment to explore some of the artists who have covered The Cranberries.