The death of Cranberries’ lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan shook fans and critics earlier this year. One of the band’s signature songs, “Zombie” is being kept alive via a tribute song by an American heavy metal band. As it turns out, O’Riordan was supposed to sing with Bad Wolves and record a new version of the song. Bad Wolves have covered the song without the Irish singer, but according to billboard.com, the proceeds go toward the needs of O’ Riordan’s children. While it is interesting to speculate about how O’Riordan would sound performing with the heavy metal band, the version by Bad Wolves stands on its own performance merits.
The Cranberries and 1990s rock
“Zombie” was released in 1994. In the midst of grunge and Unplugged albums, The Cranberries stood out for their unmistakable Irish-ness. O’Riordan’s accent sounded clear through “Zombie” and “Linger.” An impassioned feistiness emanated from the singer and wove itself throughout the song’s lyrics about an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombing that killed two boys. In it, the lyrics attack the politics behind the attack. The theme was unusual, and the soundscape was a powerful blend of guitars, drums and vocals. O’Riordan’s voice is strong and high. Its capacity to sing over the melodic rock soundtrack.
According to songfacts.com, the IRA called a ceasefire three weeks after “Zombie” was released. The presumption among music critics was that the group didn’t want The Cranberries making any more songs about them.
Bad Wolves and “Zombie”
“Zombies” is the third single from the album “Disobey.” The album is due out May 2018. The singles have been well-received. “Zombie” is currently No. 9 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock charts.
The basics of the original still exists in the cover song. However, the soundscape is that of nu-metal. It takes a minute for the layered sounds of guitars and drums to form the familiar sound of The Cranberries’ song. One difference, too, is the line “it’s the same old theme since 1916.” In the 2018 version, it has turned into “It’s the same old theme in two thousand eight-teen.” Maybe the target isn’t the IRA anymore, but America’s own issues of violence. In an era of rampant school shootings, songs about children as victims of senseless violence will always resonate with audiences.
The success of “Zombie” as an alternative rock from two decades ago and as a contemporary heavy metal song speaks volumes about the strength of the song’s lyrics. Even for audiences who have heard the song before, Bad Wolves’ version sounds new and fresh, yet vaguely familiar. While O’Riordan’s passing was tragic, that one of her signature songs lives on to benefit her children sounds like a fitting tribute somehow.