13 Incredible Bands Like The Cranberries: Similar Artists

Written by Dan Farrant

For those who crave the distinctive sound of The Cranberries, a band that beautifully combines alternative rock with impactful lyrics and the haunting voice of Dolores O’Riordan, finding similar music can be a thrilling adventure.

Formed in 1989 as The Cranberry Saw Us, this Irish outfit significantly influenced the music industry with unforgettable hits like “Zombie,” “Dreams,” and “Linger.”

In this blog post, we have carefully curated a list of 13 incredible bands similar to The Cranberries in terms of genre, style, or female-fronted power. Ready to learn who they are? Let’s dive in!

The Cranberries by Nat Ch Villa (CC BY 2.0)

1. Cowboy Junkies

Formed in Ontario, Canada, in 1985, we have first the alternative rock band Cowboy Junkies. Their sound—a blend of country, blues, and rock—quickly captured the attention of music lovers around the globe. Like The Cranberries, the band is led by a female vocalist, Margo Timmins.

Cowboy Junkies achieved mainstream breakthrough with the release of their second album, The Trinity Session, in 1987. The album, which sold over 1.5 million copies internationally, was certified Platinum in the US and double Platinum in Canada.

The band went on to record an impressive 16 studio albums and five live albums throughout their career, and in 2015, Cowboy Junkies was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

2. Crash Test Dummies

Also from Canada, the alternative and folk rock band Crash Test Dummies has been compared to The Cranberries due to their similarities in sound and style, though, of course, The Cranberries’ music was more Irish folk-inspired.

Formed in 1988, Crash Test Dummies had a pretty good start with their debut album, The Ghosts That Haunt Me. However, it was their second album that shot them to international fame.

God Shuffled His Feet topped New Zealand’s chart as well as climbed to #2 on the UK Albums chart. Not only that, it received a Grammy nod for Best Alternative Music Album. Its track “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” was also nominated for Single of the Year.

3. The Sundays

The British alternative rock band The Sundays formed in the late 1980s. Fronted by vocalist Harriet Wheeler and guitarist David Gavurin, this indie sensation garnered attention for their delicate and melodious tunes.

The Sundays is best known for a number of songs that have stood the test of time. Their debut single, “Can’t Be Sure,” released in 1989 from their album Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, is a fan favorite. Another popular piece from the same album is “Here’s Where the Story Ends,” which topped the US Alternative Chart.

Despite the brevity of their active years—disbanding in 1997—The Sundays was able to release three enriching albums. Wheeler and Gavurin chose to step back from the music industry to focus on raising their family.

4. Sixpence None The Richer

Another well-known alt-rock band akin to The Cranberries is Sixpence None the Richer. Formed in New Braunfels, Texas, in 1992, this group was originally created by lead vocalist Leigh Nash and guitarist Matt Slocum.

They gained widespread recognition with their self-titled album in 1997. The track “Kiss Me” became a global hit after it was featured in several films and TV shows, including She’s All That and Dawson’s Creek.

Another well-known song by the band is their cover of “There She Goes” by The La’s. This track also achieved significant commercial success and was featured in several movies.

5. Mazzy Star

Also led by a female vocalist—Hope Sandoval—like The Cranberries is Mazzy Star. This alternative rock group formed in Santa Monica, California, in 1989.

Their debut album in 1990 captured attention, but it was their second album that was more successful. So Tonight That I Might See was released in 1993 and achieved Platinum status with the help of the track “Fade into You.”

Considered their signature song, “Fade Into You” became a hit, reaching #3 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. It’s often remembered for its dreamy, melancholic sound and Sandoval’s haunting vocals.

While Mazzy Star hasn’t been particularly active in recent years, their influence can be heard in many contemporary indie and alternative acts today.

6. Garbage

Despite their name and the reason behind the moniker, the alternative rock band Garbage is anything but that.

Consisting of Scottish singer and musician Shirley Manson and American musicians Duke Erikson, Steve Marker, and Butch Vig, the band fused alt-rock sound with electronic and pop elements that wowed audiences.

Their self-titled debut album, released in 1995, was met with critical acclaim and commercial success. It featured the hit singles “Only Happy When It Rains” and “Stupid Girl,” which helped establish the band’s signature sound.

Their second album, Version 2.0, in 1998, was also successful. Not only was it a chart-topping hit, but it also earned two Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year.

7. The Cardigans

Swedish band The Cardigans gained popularity in the late 1990s with their melodic and catchy pop-rock songs. Their music is often described as alternative rock, much like The Cranberries, but with influences from the indie pop scene.

After debuting in 1994 with Emmerdale, The Cardigans released five more studio albums. The last three albums topped the Swedish music chart. Notable among these are Gran Turismo and Long Gone Before Daylight, which won Grammis (Swedish version of Grammy Awards) for Best Album.

Their biggest hit came with the single “Lovefool” from their third album, First Band on the Moon, in 1996. The song has been prominently featured in the popular film Romeo + Juliet, which helped boost the song’s popularity and made it a global hit.

8. Frente!

From the land Down Under, we have Frente! This alternative rock and folk-pop group was formed in 1991 and is best known for their hit single “Bizarre Love Triangle,” a unique, stripped-down acoustic cover of the New Order song.

Their original songs, such as “Labour of Love” and “Ordinary Angels,” also gained significant airplay and helped establish the band’s reputation.

Similar to bands like The Sundays, The Cardigans, and Sixpence None the Richer, Frente! is characterized by their catchy tunes and strong female lead vocals. Angie Hart, in this case, is the voice behind Frente!

After the release of their second album, Shape, in 1996, the band went on an extended hiatus. The band has since performed together intermittently and released a few EPs.

9. No Doubt

There is no doubt that our next band is similar to The Cranberries. Formed in 1986 and fronted by the iconic Gwen Stefani, No Doubt became one of the most popular pop-rock bands hailing from California.

Like The Cranberries, No Doubt experimented with different styles of music over their career while still maintaining a distinct sound. Their ska-tinged punk rock roots were evident on earlier tracks, but they also dabbled in poppier fare such as “Hella Good” and “Hey Baby.”

With their third album, Tragic Kingdom, No Doubt burst into the mainstream. It featured the hits “Don’t Speak” and “Just a Girl,” the former receiving Grammy nominations for Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

10. Toad The Wet Sprocket

The American rock band Toad the Wet Sprocket has been likened to The Cranberries for their blend of alternative rock, folk, and jangle pop sound. Formed in 1986, they gained popularity with their album Fear in 1991, which included the successful singles “All I Want” and “Walk on the Ocean.”

Their follow-up album, Dulcinea, in 1994, was also successful and featured the hits “Fall Down” and “Something’s Always Wrong.” Both albums went Platinum, cementing the band’s status in the ’90s alternative rock scene.

In 1998, Toad the Wet Sprocket took a break but reunited several times for tours and new releases. Their most recent album, Starting Now, was released in 2021.

11. 10,000 Maniacs

The alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs has been around for several decades. The band was formed in 1981 and quickly became one of the most popular college rock bands of the 1980s.

10,000 Maniacs has released nine studio albums, six EPs, and five live albums over the course of their career. Some of their most well-known songs include “Like the Weather,” “These Are Days,” and “Because the Night.”

The band is also notable for launching the career of vocalist Natalie Merchant, who was a key member of the group from its founding until her departure in 1993 to pursue a solo career. Following Merchant’s departure, the band continued to record and perform with new lead singers.

12. U2

Next up is U2, included on this list for their alternative/pop rock and post-punk sound that’s reminiscent of The Cranberries’ style, as well as their roots in Ireland.

Beginning their journey in Dublin in 1976, U2 was catapulted to global fame with the release of The Joshua Tree in 1987. It includes timeless hits like “With or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

Throughout their illustrious career, they have released 13 studio albums and have become one of the world’s best-selling music artists, having sold over 150 million records worldwide.

U2 has also been recognized with more than 20 Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for both The Joshua Tree and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Their contributions to music were further acknowledged with their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

13. The Sugarcubes

The Icelandic alternative rock band Sugarcubes is similar to The Cranberries, not just in terms of sound. The band was also fronted by a woman by the name of Björk Guðmundsdóttir.

The Sugarcubes is perhaps best known for their hit single “Birthday,” which was released in 1987. The song’s success brought attention to the thriving music scene in Iceland and helped establish the Sugarcubes’ international reputation.

The band released three studio albums—Life’s Too Good (1988), Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week! (1989), and Stick Around for Joy (1992)—before separating after the last album was released. Nevertheless, their influence can still be felt in the world of alternative rock.

Summing Up Our List Of Bands Similar To The Cranberries

That concludes our list of bands that echo The Cranberries’ sound. Though similar in a way, each of these bands provides their own uniqueness to their music that draws listeners in.

We hope with this list, we’ve helped you discover some new favorites, bands that resonate with your soul just as The Cranberries do.

However, the journey doesn’t end here. We know the world of music is vast and ever-evolving, so if there’s a band we missed, let us know and we’ll add them here!

Photo of author

Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.