In Warrington, Cheshire in 1993, two boys (Jonathan Ball and Tim Parry) were tragically killed during an IRA bombing. The event moved Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer for up-and-coming Irish alt-rock act The Cranberries, to write a song to honor the boys’ memory and to make a statement about the ongoing horrors of war that had plagued her homeland. The result was “Zombie,” which appeared on the band’s sophomore album No Need To Argue.
A few weeks after “Zombie” was released, the IRA called a ceasefire. But for The Cranberries, it signaled a beginning, not an ending. While the band had already been getting attention in the UK and Ireland (and MTV rotation) for their debut album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, “Zombies” brought The Cranberries into the international mainstream, becoming the band’s first No. 1 hit in the United States. No Need To Argue went on to Platinum sales in the U.S. seven times over.
Ironically, the grungy, heavy sounds of “Zombie” were a bit out of character for a band that leaned more toward the pop side of alternative—a fact that caused some criticism from some of the band’s detractors. Nevertheless, this song is remembered as a defining moment for the band, and remains one of The Cranberries’ most recognized and best-loved songs to this day.