Velez: Ode to a 90s waif

OUR collective minds seemed to have buried the music of the 90s. We've forgotten how angst, ripped jeans and long-hair were cool, as we now conform to the current stream of pop-timism and budots.

But came the news of the death of Dolores O'Riordan of The Cranberries and we stop. Now we are playing her band's songs once again, and we remember the 90s. It was a time when we hated politicians. Friends was everyone's favorite TV show. Michael V introduced the 'chicken' dance. Air Jordan was basketball god. And every high schooler and college kid's pastime was listening to NU 107.

And we remember Linger, the Cranberries' first single that came out in 1993. We remember that voice, that started like a lullaby hum that turned into whispering lyrics and ended with a haunting shrill. That Irish lilt, the band's jangle guitars and that accompanying video of Dolores wandering under a flickering light, wowed us.

And that made The Cranberries became a fixture of the 90s. The 90s saw the rise of women fronting bands or going solo, and each had a signature image. Dolores with her close crop dancing in a dress. No Doubt's Gwen Stefani pouting and jumping on stage in jogging pants. Shirely Manson of Garbage hypnotizing us with her deathly green-eyes, pale skin, red hair and deep voice.

We got swept to Tori Amos' stormy piano solos and wails. We rocked with Alanis for being jagged and ironic. We shared Natalie's state of Torn and Lisa Loeb's plea for our love to Stay. In another genre, Lauryn Hill stepped up on the mic and throw the greatest female hip-hop album of all time.

Back at home, we had Pu3ska's Myra Ruaro, Cookie Chua of Color it Red, Hungry Young Poets' Barbie Almalbis, Aegis and Prettier in Pink rocking the local airwaves.

Today's pop feminism seemed too polish and crafted compared to these women who rock in the 90s. It seemed 90s embraced confusion, rock soothed us that we're not alone, wherever we are.

And The Cranberries' songs lit us in a personal way, and even in a social way with the anti-war song Zombie, Salvation's them of drug addiction, and struggle for family support in Animal Instinct. Dolores recently confessed she was abused in her childhood, which explains why Ode to My Family had that disturbing sense of anguish amidst it soulfulness.

It seems haunting that one of their albums was called To the Faithful Departed, an album about death and loss. It carried the single When You're Gone and it seems haunting we are singing this song now. We wonder what caused Dolores' passing. There are stories of bipolar disorders, pain and drugs. And it makes all this more sad

We wonder what happened after the 90s. Grunge artists overdosed. Others found family. Meanwhile, rebellion was buried with anthems of fear and terror in the 2000s. And now we have hate politics.

All these makes the 90s seem like a better time when music defined and affirmed us more than memes. We grieve that Dolores and that spirit is gone. We listen one more time to that voice singing our anguish and affirmation and hope it will linger, like the dreamy states of their videos, and hear her singing atop Irish mountaintops and stars.

(tyvelez@gmail.com)
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