If you watched MTV in the winter of 1994, it was impossible to ignore “Zombie” by the Cranberries. The music video’s director, Samuel Bayer, drew from a palette he’d used on Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and positioned the band’s lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan, painted in gold, in front of a large cross. “It’s the same old theme since 1916,” Ms. O’Riordan snarled, referring to the quashed rebellion that gave birth to the Irish republic, between clips of British soldiers on the streets of Northern Ireland and play-fighting children. “In your head, in your head, they’re still fighting.”
There were many breaking points during the war in Northern Ireland, but the second Warrington bombing in England in 1993 was significant enough to set off street protests in Dublin. Johnathan Bell, 3, and Tim Parry, 12, were killed when the Irish Republican Army detonated two bombs in trash cans. Touring in England at the time, the Cranberries digested the news, and wrote “Zombie,” their protest song.
By the time the single was released in 1994 — two weeks after a cease-fire announcement from the I.R.A., and a month before one from the unionist paramilitaries who opposed them — the Cranberries were one of the biggest rock bands in the world, with Ms. O’Riordan at the helm, a frontwoman so prominent that the Cranberries meant her.
Now, the Cranberries’ music reminds me of the inside of bedrooms, of school discos where everyone swayed, bored, until “Zombie” came on and the moshing began, awkward at first. The songs evoke the smell of damp school sweaters and the ennui of suburban bus shelters, as well as the money scraped together to buy Dr. Martens boots.
Our Music of the Week addition for this week comes in remembrance of none other than Dolores O’Riordan, the iconic front-woman of Irish band The Cranberries, who died unexpectedly this week. The Limerick based band’s most famous single ‘Zombie’ was a track that made them a significant presence on the charts aside from winning the MTV EMA award for ‘Best Song’ in 1995.
Quote source: (The Memories in Dolores O’Riordan’s Fierce, Fragile Voice, NY Times, 2018)