Zombie: a stance against violence


By Jabir Misbah

songSavagery, bombings and mass killings have unified people at a single point; hatred towards violence. Yet, the world watches the continuous havoc in stillness. Dolores O’Riordan wrote the song ‘Zombie’ in 1993 for this exact purpose. This song takes the invincible position that killing young children is tragic. As a protest song, Zombie is a composition from the album ‘No Need to Argue’, the second album from the Irish rock band ‘Cranberries’.

One of the bands most unique songs, Zombie, appeals to the audience by its strong, aggressive and expressive tune. The song was originally written on acoustic guitar, but then it was translated onto an electric guitar as it became a pure rock track.  Although categorised as an alternative rock song, it will entice you with its anger-driven, post-grunge from the mid-90s. Cranberries music was known for being ethereal, shimmering alt-rock in a sea of grunge. As such, the heavy grunge aspect of the song took a lot of people by surprise. So much so that, it beat songs of Michael Jackson and TLC to win the 1995 MTV Europe Music Awards.

‘In your head/ they’re still fighting/ in your head/ they are dying.’  To me, the best thing about this song is its lyrics, which was self-written by O’Riordan. The Limerick-born singer was one of the most distinctive voices of the 1990s. The way she shaped this punchy, meaningful song, gave it a heartfelt conviction is admirable. She took advantage of her band’s global status to deliver a stark message about the pointless bloodshed, hardening her call to a gut wrenching cry. She dedicated this piece to two young children, whose lives were lost in a bombing due to the Irish Civil War of 92-93. She was appalled by the horror and said on this anti-war song, ‘It’s a tough thing to sing about, but when you’re young you don’t think twice about things, you just grab it and do it’.

The song, in spite of being a global success, has its fair share of criticism. Since, Cranberries are mostly a Rock band, its approach to grunge metal will be a bit of a disappointment to all you metal heads out there. Swollen riffs, pseudo sadness and creepy whimpering doesn’t necessarily always act up as the best tool to create a heavy metal song. The composition is a call to action that feels like a call because it ends on an unresolved beat that seems to be expecting you to finish the song. Nonetheless, this song is a perfect text book example of how a remarkable vocalist can elevate a song by the sheer strength of her vocals.

If you, like me, prefer a more melodious and soft approach to songs, you have to check out the acoustic version of Zombies, released in 2017 in Cranberries Album ‘Something Else’ as a tribute to the iconic Dolores O’Riordan. After hearing this song for a couple of times, you’ll find it quite hard for the zombies in your head to get out of your head.


Jabir Misbah is a story-teller and knowledge enthusiast.

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