Songwriter: John Rzeznik
Original Release Date: April 7, 1998
It’s been a rainy, gray start to fall for me this year, which means it’s the perfect time of year to indulge in hot chai lattes, big comfy sweatshirts, and brooding music. One of the best sad songs to listen to on a cold drizzly day is “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls. If you’ve never heard the agonizingly sweet cover by Sleeping With Sirens, you’re in for a treat this week.
The Goo Goo Dolls master their craft on this timeless sad song. It was originally written for the soundtrack of the 1998 movie City of Angels, but soon became a huge Billboard hit and an alternative rock staple of the 90s. The song was later featured on the band’s album Dizzy Up The Girl. The steely acoustic opens the track with a bittersweet sounding melody, instantly recognizable and immediately depressing. The chorus bursts from the verse with thunderous drums and a touch of strings, adding to the tension and strengthening the inner turmoil of the song. Vocalist Johnny Rzeznik sings clearly, but far from calmly. His frustration bleeds through his aching lyrics, especially on the defining lines, “I don’t want the world to see me, I don’t think that they’d understand/When everything’s made to be broken, I just want you to know who I am.” This chorus is repeated throughout the song, hitting harder and harder each time. By the end of the song, I always end up in pieces. I played this song on rainy days in high school almost exclusively, and most times on repeat. Something about gloomy weather makes me want to listen to heart-wrenching music, and everything about this song fits the part.
Sleeping With Sirens do a beautiful cover of “Iris” that nearly rivals the original. Vocalist Kellin Quinn is known for his particularly high voice and is usually accompanied by the heavier style of his band Sleeping With Sirens. But it’s when Quinn tones it down and drops an octave or so that we see another facet of his vocal talent. On “Iris”, there’s a softer side to the band as a whole in their use of acoustic guitar, piano, and delicate vocals. This song requires a light touch to fully feel the effect of the brokenness in the lyrics. Sleeping With Sirens do a nice job of portraying the lyrics with a dose of emotion, both instrumentally and vocally and especially as Quinn plays around with the melody. He switches seamlessly between a breathy whisper and his falsetto, but hits every note with precision. Quinn keeps you listening until the very end just to hear each tender word of this lullaby rendition of “Iris”.
Fall inevitably comes with a bit of rainy weather. If you’re anything like me and need excessively upsetting songs to get you through the gray days, “Iris” is the best place to start. The Goo Goo Dolls magnificently sad classic still reigns supreme on my playlist, but Sleeping With Sirens are up there too. Their softer, sweeter version is best saved for the drizzle that comes just before the storm.