The Cranberries were one of the most successful Irish rock bands of the 1990s. Their original line-up consisted of vocalist Niall Quinn, guitarist Noel Hogan, his brother Mike Hogan on bass and drummer Fergal Lawler. In 1990, Quinn was replaced by Delores O’Riordan.
The band was extremely popular during the nineties starting with the release of their debut album Everyone Else is Doing it, So Why Can’t We? The album was released in 1993. Their success on the western side of the Atlantic would reach across to the eastern side as The Cranberries would cultivate a large following in the United States. The band’s first four albums would all reach the Billboard Top 200. They were also extremely successful on the singles charts. The Cranberries celebrated eight top twenty singles in the United States.
After going on hiatus in 2003, they got back together in 2009 and released a new album titled Roses in 2012. They followed up their 2012 release five years later in 2017 with the Something Else album. The CD was a compilation of both new and previously released songs done in an acoustic style. In 2018, O’ Riordan was found dead in a hotel room in London, having drowned in the bath due to being intoxicated. After O’Riordan’s passing, the band decided to split up for good.
# 10 – Animal Instinct
We open up our top 10 Cranberries songs list with the second single to be taken from the band’s fourth album Bury the Hatchet released in 1999. The lyrics of the song deal with the concept of motherhood with O’ Riordan having had her first child in between the release of this album and the band’s previous record. It was the band’s first single not reach the top forty in the UK, reaching only number fifty-four. An acoustic version was later released on Something Else.
# 9 – Free to Decide
Next on the list is the second single to be released from the band’s third album To the Faithful Departed. It achieved moderate success across Europe, but its biggest success was in Canada where it reached number two on the RPM singles chart. It charted in the US at both number twenty-two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number eight on the modern rock charts. It is yet another track where an acoustic version was released on Something Else.
# 8 – Why?
This track is one of three original tracks taken from 2017’s Something Else which is haunting song inspired by the death O’Riordan’s father. The fact that it is the closing song on the album makes it particularly poignant, especially in the light of the singer’s own death. It was released on the same day as the album’s lead single, an acoustic version of their hit from the debut album: “Linger.” The album was successful all over the world, charting high in several different countries.
# 7 – Wake Up and Smell the Coffee
This next track is the title track from the group’s fifth album in 2001 before their six-year hiatus. The song starts with a long intro that on first listen gives the impression that it might be a long and melancholy song. However, the listener is pleasantly surprised when the guitar kicks in and although the song is dark and sad sounding, at the same time it has an upbeat sense of energy. It is a song that is relatable for a young person who feels alienated by their environment.
# 6 – Warchild
This track is taken from The Cranberries third album To the Faithful Departed released in 1996. The song is an acoustic number which also features the use of a horn section. O’Riordan puts in a particularly beautiful vocal performance here as she sings the lyrics to this song, which as the title would suggest are about children during a time of war. All in all, the song has a very epic feel to it, with the horn section giving it an extra layer of sadness.
# 5 – Dreams
Here we have the band’s debut single from 1992 which was featured on their debut album Everyone Else is Doing It So Why Can’t We? Released in 1993, it was very successful for a debut single, reaching the top forty of the US Hot 100 Airplay and the top thirty on the UK singles chart. There was also a demo version of the song recorded in 1990 in released in 1994. It is also yet another of the band’s most popular tracks that was re-recorded acoustically on Something Else.
# 4 – New New York
Here is a track that was one of two that was recorded for their 2002 best of compilation Stars: The Best of 1992-2002. The track is one the heaviest sounding that the band have ever recorded, almost sounding similar in parts to some of the nu metal bands who were around at the time. This is possibly a reflection of the song’s angry and political subject matter, with the title referring to the events of 9/11 and how New York was going to overcome them.
# 3 – Linger
At number three is the single that was the band’s first big hit that was also taken from their debut album. It was the second and final single to be released from the album. It charted at number three in Ireland, number eight in the US and number fourteen in the UK. The song was first written before O’Riordan joined by the band and it had different lyrics originally written by original vocalist Niall Quinn. When O’Riordan joined she came up with her own set of lyrics based on a seventeen soldier that she was once in love with.
# 2 – I Can’t Be With You
Just off the top spot is the third single to be released from the band’s second album No Need To Argue in 1994, although it was the fourth from the album to be released in North America. It is somewhat of an underrated song in the band’s discography, being only a minor hit, peaking at number twenty-one in Ireland and reaching number one in Iceland where it remained for only one week. It is a very emotive song that deals with the subject of bitterness after a breakup. Despite this, it is has an upbeat feel at the same time, being a powerful rock number as opposed to a melancholy ballad.
# 1 – Zombie
At the top spot is the band’s all-time biggest hit that is known for being one of the most poignant protest songs dealing with the troubles in Ireland. It was released in 1994 as the lead single from No Need to Argue and reached number one in several different countries included on the U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Charts. To this day, the song is regarded as an all time classic in both Irish rock and alternative rock in general.