Chinese fans of Irish singer Dolores O’Riordan paid tribute to the artist as news of her death broke, sharing her songs on social media platforms, along with their own thoughts and reflections. The lead singer of ’90s band The Cranberries died in a London hotel on Monday at the age of 46.
Many Chinese listeners got their first taste of The Cranberries through covers by local artists or mentions in music magazines. For 30-year-old Xu Jiayu, an English teacher based in the southeastern city of Xiamen, it was the latter. As a 14-year-old, he said the band’s hit protest anthem “Zombie” first drew him to O’Riordan’s “sad and ethereal” voice. He immediately became a fan, saving his pocket money for imported cassettes that cost from 13 to 15 yuan (around $2) — a substantial sum for a teenager then.
“My personal favorite is ‘Ode to My Family,’” he told Sixth Tone. “The lyrics are quite personal, and it’s a beautiful song.”
Faye Wong — the Beijing-born alternative pop diva who has a similar presence and voice — also helped introduce O’Riordan to Chinese audiences with her Cantonese rendition of “Dreams” in 1994. Her cover was featured in Wong Kar-wai’s film of the same year, “Chunking Express,” in which she also starred.
“Dreams,” The Cranberries’ hit single from their 1993 debut album, made the Irish quartet a recognizable name across the world. In 2011, the band played in Beijing and Shanghai, their only performances on the Chinese mainland.
By Tuesday afternoon, O’Riordan and The Cranberries were trending on microblog site Weibo. More than 80 million people engaged by posting about the artist, with many expressing their love and heartache over her sudden death.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve immersed myself in their songs, which bring me back to my lonesome teenage days,” Xu posted to his timeline on social app WeChat. “I am replaying ‘Dying in the Sun’ with tearful eyes. I don’t know what to say,” another fan wrote on Weibo.
Musicians in the country also expressed their love for O’Riordan and their sadness over her loss. “I will miss her singing voice, which soars above the wind, and her transcendental quality,” Gao Xiaosong, a Chinese singer-songwriter, said on Weibo.
The Cranberries formed in the Irish town of Limerick in 1989 and rose to international stardom in the early ’90s with their unique brand of wistful, melodic grunge. The band has sold more than 40 million records worldwide, and their singles “Dreams,” “Linger,” and particularly “Zombie” continue to resonate for many.
We are devastated on the passing of our friend Dolores. She was an extraordinary talent and we feel very privileged to have been part of her life from 1989 when we started the Cranberries. The world has lost a true artist today.— The Cranberries (@The_Cranberries) January 15, 2018
Noel, Mike and Fergal
Band members Noel Hogan, Fergal Lawler, and Mike Hogan said they were devastated at their friend’s death. “She was an extraordinary talent and we feel very privileged to have been a part of her life from 1989 when we started The Cranberries,” they wrote on Twitter. “The world has lost a true artist today.”
Irish musician Hozier recalled his first time listening to O’Riordan, saying that her singing transformed his perception of how a voice could sound in a rock context. “I’d never heard somebody use their instrument in that way,” he said on Twitter.
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. Shocked and saddened to hear of her passing, thoughts are with her family.— Hozier (@Hozier) January 15, 2018
In a statement Monday, London police said that they were investigating O’Riordan’s death and treating it as an “unexplained” matter.
Additional reporting: Qian Zhecheng; contributions: Fan Liya; editor: Qian Jinghua.
(Header image: Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries performs on stage in Shanghai, July 26, 2011. Gao Zheng for Sixth Tone)