Zombie (song)

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The Cranberries - Zombie.jpg
Standard artwork (CD and vinyl edition pictured)
Single by The Cranberries
from the album No Need to Argue
Released19 September 1994
Recorded1993 at Windmill Lane Studios
  • 5:06 (LP version)
  • 4:11 (international edit)
  • 3:52 (U.S. radio edit)
Songwriter(s)Dolores O'Riordan
Producer(s)Stephen Street
The Cranberries singles chronology
"Ode to My Family"
Music video
"Zombie" on YouTube
Audio sample

"Zombie" is a protest song by Irish rock band The Cranberries, written about the 1993 IRA bombing in Warrington, and in memory of two young victims, Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry.[1] It was released in September 1994 as the lead single from their second studio album, No Need to Argue (1994). It preceded the release of No Need to Argue by two weeks. The song was written by the band's lead singer Dolores O'Riordan, and reached No. 1 on the charts in Australia, Belgium, France, Denmark and Germany.

It won the "Best Song" award at the 1995 MTV Europe Music Awards.[2]

In 2017, the song was released as an acoustic, stripped down version on the band's Something Else album.[3]


The lyrics and chords of "Zombie" were written by Dolores O'Riordan during the Cranberries' English Tour in 1993. The song was written in response to the death of Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry, who had been killed in the IRA bombing in Warrington earlier that year.[4]

The Cranberries former manager Alan Kovac stated that Island Records urged them not to release the "politically urgent" song as a single, and that O'Riordan had ripped up a $1 million cheque the label offered her to work on another song. “Dolores was a very small, fragile person, but very opinionated,” said Kovac. “Her belief was that she was an international artist and she wanted to break the rest of the world, and ‘Zombie’ was part of that evolution. She felt the need to expand beyond ‘I love you, you love me’ and write about what was happening in Ireland at the time.”[5]


The Rough Guide to Rock identified the album No Need to Argue as "more of the same" as the Cranberries' debut album, except for the song "Zombie", which had an "angry grunge" sound and "aggressive" lyrics.[6] The Cranberries played the song on their appearance on the U.S. show Saturday Night Live in 1995 in a performance that British author Dave Thompson calls "one of the most powerful performances that the show has ever seen".[7]

AllMusic said the song "trivialized" the events of the Troubles, and that the "heavy rock trudge" of the song did not play to the band's strengths.[8]

Music video[edit]

"Zombie" was released with a music video in October 1994. The video was directed by Samuel Bayer, and produced by Doug Friedman and H.S.I. Productions.

In the video, Dolores O'Riordan is covered in gold makeup and appears in front of a cross with a group of boys also covered in gold makeup. The video also includes clips of children playing war games, and of British soldiers from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (as evident from their thin red line tactical recognition flashes) on patrol in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. It also features shots of various murals.

The video was filmed in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and on a sound stage in LA over a period of 6 days.

As of May 2019, the video has over 910 million views on YouTube.

The original version of the video was banned by the BBC, which broadcast an edited version instead that focused on performance footage.[9]

Track listings[edit]

UK and European CD1 single

1."Zombie" (Album version)Dolores O'Riordan5:06
2."Away" (Previously unreleased; later included on the soundtrack of the 1995 film Clueless)Dolores O'Riordan2:39
3."I Don't Need" (Previously unreleased)

UK and European CD2 single

1."Zombie" (Album version)5:06
2."Waltzing Back" (Live at the Fleadh Festival, 11 June 1994)3:45
3."Linger" (Live at the Fleadh Festival, 11 June 1994)5:25

UK and European 7" single

1."Zombie" (Radio edit)4:10
2."Away" (Previously unreleased)2:39

US two-track promo CD (PRCD 6857-2)

1."Zombie" (Edit)3:52

UK VHS single (PRCD 6857-2)

1."Zombie" (Video version)5:11

Charts and sales[edit]

Bad Wolves version[edit]

Zombie (Bad Wolves).jpg
Single by Bad Wolves
from the album Disobey
ReleasedJanuary 18, 2018 (2018-01-18)
LabelEleven Seven
Songwriter(s)Dolores O'Riordan
Bad Wolves singles chronology
"Toast to the Ghost"
"Better the Devil"

Bad Wolves released a cover version on January 19, 2018 as the third single from their debut album Disobey.[58][59] O'Riordan had been scheduled to record vocals with the heavy metal group at the time of her death. The cover was released without her vocals as a tribute. Bad Wolves slightly altered the lyrics, inserting a reference to drones and replacing "since 1916" with "in 2018".[59] Bad Wolves also added two extra stanzas to the end of the song which were not present in the original song. The band's cover topped the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart in May 2018 for three weeks. It peaked at number 54 on the Hot 100.[60] In June 2018, at a concert in New York City, Bad Wolves donated $250,000 to O'Riordan's children.[61]

In an interview, bassist Kyle Konkiel shared his thoughts on the new cover's sound: [62]

[Our version] is kind of a darker more melodic feel than the original, which had a lot of heavy guitars and that legendary bassline and more focus on the actual instruments than the lyrics themselves

— Kyle Konkiel

Music video[edit]

The song's music video was directed by Wayne Isham and was released on January 18, 2018, the day before the band released the song as a single.[63]

The video begins with text discussing the cover's background and the passing of O'Riordan. The video then cuts to shots of the band performing the song in a black room, wearing black clothing and playing black instruments interspersed with close-up scenes of a woman being covered in gold paint. The video then cuts in between shots of the band performing and the woman interacting with vocalist Tommy Vext which mainly involves her smearing gold paint on a glass pane between the two of them. After the guitar solo, she etches "1-15-18", the date of O'Riordan's death, into the paint. The woman's appearance (gold body paint, gold dress, and gold beaded headdress) is nearly identical to that of O'Riordan in The Cranberries' original Zombie music video. The video ends with a quote by Vext.

Track listing[edit]


Charts and sales[edit]

Other cover versions[edit]

  • In late 1994, a cover version by Spanish mákina group Ororo was released in conjunction with the original version. This version reached No. 1 in Spain and No. 16 in Austria.[75]
  • In 1995, a Eurodance cover version by Italian quartet A.D.A.M. featuring Amy reached No. 16 in the UK Singles Chart,[76] No. 65 in Australia,[77] No. 20 in France, No. 9 in Italy, and No. 35 in Belgium.[78]
  • In 2011, Christina Parie covered the song on The X Factor Australia. After her performance, the song re-entered the ARIA Charts Top 100 at No. 69.[citation needed]
  • May 24, 2019 Vic Mensa released a cover with 93PUNX.


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  • Fonseca A. J. «Zombie» (song) // Encyclopedia of the Zombie: The Walking Dead in Popular Culture and Myth: The Walking Dead in Popular Culture and Myth / eds. J. Pulliam, A. J. Fonseca. — ABC-CLIO, 2014. — 381 p. — ISBN 9781440803895. — ISBN 1440803897.