Music, Featured

21st February 2024

The Cranberries Renaissance – Gen Z’s Infatuation With Iconic Irish Band

This year The Cranberries are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their sophomore album No Need To Argue that followed their debut Everyone Else Is Doing It Why Can’t We? Both albums reached number one in the charts in 1994 alongside singles from both. Thirty years on the band has a cult following that specifically includes large numbers of young women myself included.

The band’s last release was in 2019 In the End following frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan’s death in 2018. Yet Gen Z’s true obsession with The Cranberries comes in the form of the band’s first and second albums released in 1993 and 1994. The question I’m exploring is really why the band have experienced such a massive revival and gained the cult fanbase they have amongst Gen Z.

Everyone Else is Doing it Why Can’t We?

In what I consider one of the best debut albums of all time. Within the realm of early 90s music, they undeniably shine as one of the era’s greatest acts. Breaking apart The Cranberries debut album makes it clear why it has stood the test of time. Unlike some other bands from the same era, they don’t sound dated which is a testament to the album’s production. Soaring vocals and complex storytelling go hand in with perfectly mixed instrumentals to create an album that is truly phenomenal.

Each element that features on the album blends into a flawless symphony of alt-rock. Despite the album’s now legendary status, it didn’t find immediate commercial success. It took a full year after the album and a trip to America alongside The The and Suede for the album to hit the charts and for lead singles Linger and Dreams to gain notoriety.

The internets love affair with Linger

Everyone seems to be covering the band’s 1993 hit single Linger from open mics to TikTok covers it’s seemingly inescapable. It makes sense the song is incredible it’s relatable and gentle. The song has developed into a timeless classic with the lyrics in particular resonating with today’s youth.

People have been relating the song to the casual style of dating aka situationships that have become incredibly common amongst our generation.

"Things wouldn't be so confused
And I wouldn't feel so used
But you always really knew
I just want to be with you"

The abuse of the singer’s love for her partner in Linger is really what hurts the most. The other person in the song knows they can get away with pretty much anything because of just how much the narrator loves them. O’Riordan is essentially just illustrating how silly it is to still want someone who treats you so badly a theme that can be seen as truly an ode to chaotic young love. The Cranberries know how to capture youth in all its purest and darkest forms and Linger is one of the best examples of this within their discography.

Letting It Linger

In a sillier way, the internet has become obsessed with ‘Letting it Linger’ a meme I have seen for months all over my Instagram, TikTok and even Pinterest. ‘Letting it Linger’ is an activity, a mindset, a daily task according to the trend. It does realistically ignore the meaning of the song nonetheless it is a meme that has thrust the song onto people’s FYP’s which is always a good thing. My favourite version includes a Jeff Buckley quote over the top of the song where he says “Whoever stole The Cranberries guitar in DC you’re going to burn in hell forever.” A particularly funny crossover between two 90s icons that have both enamored younger generations.

All this being said due to UMG’s removal of all of their music off TikTok including The Cranberries full discography this trend is now backed by strange sped-up versions of the song or no sounds at all. Whether this will impact the trend virality I’m not sure it seems to have cemented itself as an iconic meme in the alternative music world. I think ‘Letting it Linger’ is here to stay.

‘Derry Girls’ and Dreams

This understanding of youth is where The Cranberries find their additional revival. 1993 single Dreams has been used in a long list of films and TV shows most recently Netflix’s viral series One Day. However, its use in the iconic coming-of-age comedy series Derry Girls is one of the most recent triumphs for the band.

Derry Girls is a hilarious, coming-of-age show set in Derry in Northern Ireland within the backdrop of the 90s. At this point, I will say if you have not watched the series you really need to! Dreams plays in every series of the show including during the final sequence of the series accompanying the characters voting in the Good Friday Agreement referendum in 1998.

"Oh, my life
Is changing every day
In every possible way"

The music of The Cranberries served as a significant soundtrack to the youth of many, including Lisa McGee, the writer of ‘Derry Girls’. This was a massive focus while assembling the soundtrack for the show and is the reason The Cranberries feature so heavily. On top of that songs like Dreams are filled with youthful energy they’re dreamy, poetic and partially hopeless looking on to what’s next.

The Final scene of Derry Girls

The songs use in the final scene of the series brought about another swathe of new audiences with James and Erin’s closing conversation going viral with Dreams accompanying the speech in the background. For me Dreams was an anthem of my last year of school the song feels like it represents unbridled possibility. The song is decidedly one made for transitional moments.

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

O’Riordan wrote the song itself about being truly in love for the first time and how much it feels like a person’s life changes when they get that feeling. Essentially, the use found in Derry Girls and many other shows is a massive feeling of encroaching change that is unstoppable so the listener or character has to just embrace it. A feeling that truly resonates with younger audiences.

No Need to Argue

No Need to Argue the band’s sophomore album released in 1994 followed the success of Linger and Dreams. This album sold millions of copies and had a series of hit singles, it went triple platinum. Sceptics of the band’s initial commercial success were quickly silenced. The album was darker than the first in themes and dealt more with their origin and upbringing. Two singles shone through as the standouts from No Need to Argue, soft acoustic track Ode To My Family and seminal modern rock classic Zombie.


Zombie is thematically both within the band’s previous work and beyond it. Their lyrics had never so unabashedly faced the band’s home country, yet Gaelic influences are strong within the band’s instrumentals and O’Riordan’s vocal techniques. Zombie takes this to new heights including more traditional influences as well as speaking about specific events going on across Ireland (I am referring here to the Island of Ireland not the Republic of Ireland).

In particular, keening a vocal lament emulated in Zombie which is a Gaelic tradition of wailing in grief for a dead person. The song itself is a call for ceasefire in the Troubles a conflict occurring in Northern Ireland at the time. It is a genius use of this traditional style with O’Riordan literally wailing with grief over the loss of innocent lives. The song has been adopted as a global anti-war anthem being used in protests all over the world.

"With their tanks and their bombs
And their bombs and their guns
In your head, in your head, they are dying"

Recently, controversy has surrounded the singing of the song after Irish Rugby wins during the World Cup. Despite the backlash, the song remains inescapable, resonating as the band’s most famous track, echoing across diverse spaces, from supermarkets to the aforementioned rugby matches. It is one of the most iconic and recognisable songs of all time.

Beyond the early 90s

I know I have mainly covered the band’s early work within this article solely because that’s what has gained the most traction with young audiences. The band released six more albums with a short hiatus in the 2000s and a final release in 2019. My personal favourite beyond the first two is To The Faithful Departed released in 1996 I will always recommend it to lovers of the first albums. I do hope that songs from later in the band’s career reach a similar level of popularity as the band’s earlier work.

The Cranberries Renaissance: Here to Stay or Passing Trend?

Most of this article covers trends that have involved The Cranberries music. However, I don’t believe that this obsession with the band will be a short-lived trend. The benefits of virality are that it directs audiences to the artists themselves. With The Cranberries multiple songs have gained mass attention successively on social media constantly encouraging people to search for similar thus reaching for the band’s other work. On top of this, The Cranberries have a sound that is both individual and timeless both fundamental reasons why young people are still listening to it.

Additionally, when listening to modern bands the influence of The Cranberries is clear in particular the style of the band’s earlier work. Young people are reaching for both new and old inspirations but The Cranberries keening vocals, mixes of ethereal acoustic and electric guitar and cultural references have definitely taken root in newer songwriter’s work. Newer bands taking inspiration from The Cranberries and discussing them as major inspirations in interviews or on socials also gain the band new young audiences.

I will not hesitate to mention our parents and give them at least some credit for growing up listening to The Cranberries and continually exposing us to their era of music. All of this is just to say The Cranberries Renaissance is here to stay.

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Header Photo: Author of Article