Welcome to Under the Covers, your weekly dose of genre-bending with your favorite WBRU artists & songs! From the genuinely good to the seriously strange, we’ve got you covered. This week, we talk Japanese Breakfast’s cover of The Cranberries “Dreams.”
Japanese Breakfast, a project of Michelle Zauner, released their recorded cover of the iconic “Dreams” by The Cranberries in the spring of 2018. Since the song’s release, it has become one of the most streamed songs on Japanese Breakfast’s Spotify. Such a feat is surprising, considering the usual lackluster response given to covers. Yet, in this case, the cover’s success is well-deserved. Zauner doesn’t approach the song from a new angle, per se, but rather she launches us back into the simultaneously soft and gritty snippet of the ’90s the song originally emerged from. Both tracks embrace the strong guitar and grounding drums that tie them both to their respective female rock movements. More significantly, both allow the uniqueness of their leading woman’s vocals to shine through. The Cranberries’ lead singer Dolores O’Riordan and Zauner have voices that are powerful in their airiness. The tracks invite you to sing along with the women’s extended vocalizations through the harmony preexisting in the song. The songs are not about a singular power; They embrace the joy of singing together, of feeling the lyrics’ simplicity fall off the tongue. Especially now, living in a time of political, societal, and environmental turbulence, it’s important to pay homage to the songs that first served as our emotional release. Japanese Breakfast has been covering the song for years at live performances, but the recorded single was released after the tragic death of O’Riordan in January 2018. The release serves, perhaps primarily, as a homage to the work O’Riordan did as one of the premier women in the unique strain of rock and femininity Japanese Breakfast practices. However, the cover’s success reveals a second meaning; Japanese Breakfast’s version highlights the continued demand for the music and atmosphere this song and these artists create. Both songs serve an audience that wants to sing along and feel themselves through the lyrics; an audience so willing surrender themselves to the experience that they attempt even the high notes swirling overhead. In both versions, a community is formed and completely ready to fall into that nostalgic chorus and powerful vocals all over again.