The Original vs. The Cover – “Zombie”

For this installment of The Original vs. The Cover, we are tackling the Cranberries song “Zombie and comparing to the cover by Bad Wolves.  The song was written by Dolores O’Riordan of the Cranberries back in 1993 and was released on their 1994 album ‘No Need to Argue’.  The Cranberries had pretty good success with the song, but the song was never released as an official single in the U.S. so it never made the Billboard Top 40. The song helped the album go on to sell over 7 million copies in the U.S.

The song was a very big political statement for the band.  It was about the IRA bombing in England in 1993 which killed two children, Jonathan Bell and Tim Parry.  The band is from Ireland and this hit too close to home for them.  For those that don’t know, the IRA is a militant group that has been trying for years to get the British troops removed from Northern Ireland.  Dolores wrote the song as an anthem for peace.  The song also speaks to the year 1916 which is how long the fighting has been taking place over this issue.

For me, I now look at the song differently.  I think the song was also talking about depression.  The lyrics do speak of war and fighting and it is obvious what the song is about, but with the lines repeated a lot “in your head / Zombie”, I looked at as the mental anguish the singer was fighting with herself as she did suffer from depression and sadly took her life on January 15th of this year, 2018. Maybe I am trying to read too much into it.


The Cranberries song was a departure for the band sonically.  The band was an alternative rock band with some pop flare to them as well.  This song was more grunge sounding than anything they had done.  It was very dark, angry and Dolores’ delivery of the lyrics made you feel that anger and the pain of losing the children and the heartache the family’s must have felt.

Musically, I loved the aggressive nature of the song.  The sound of the guitar, bass and drums all sounded raw and dirty and fit the mood perfectly.  When I listen to the song with my eyes closed and just listen, every note and drum beat was perfectly placed with the lyrics to add to the impact of the song.  It is quite brilliant.

The video for the song is interlaced with soldiers and guns along with kids running around in buildings that look like they have been ravaged by bombs.  The most striking image in the video is Dolores covered in gold paint with boys all around her also covered in gold paint as she stands in front of cross.  The message is loud and clear.


Bad Wolves had the cover recorded and Dolores was going to add some vocals to the song for the band.  She died the just prior to the time she was supposed to record the vocals.  The band almost shelved the song, but decided to release it as a tribute to her and they donated the proceeds to her children (props to the band for that).

The song is a little more metal since Bad Wolves is covering, but the spirit is still there.  They added a piano to the mix which helped them capture a little of the haunting feel of the original.  The song is slow at times and then for the chorus they crank it up and the punch of the electric guitars and drums vibrates through you.  The guitar solo on this is pretty good as well.  It is a very respectable version of the song.

The band does change to things in the song that are quite noticeable.  The original sings “With their tanks and their bombs / And their bombs and their guns”.  The band modernizes the song a little and changes “guns” to “drones”.  The other big change is the reference to “1916”.  The band changed it to “2018” as the fighting still continues today.

The video for the song by the band is a very special tribute to Dolores O’Riordan.  There is a lady in the video that is being covered with gold paint and the same type of headdress Dolores wore in her video.  The lady stands in front of the singer with a glass pane between them and she spreads the paint across the glass.  At one point, the writes the date 1-15-18 which is the day Dolores died.  It was actually a nice tribute to the singer.


Now it is time to say which version I liked better.  The best version for me is the original version by The Cranberries.  Their version is how I got into the band.  Dolores’ voice was so interesting and some many layers that I couldn’t help but fall in love with her singing and in turn the band.  Now, that doesn’t take away from Bad Wolves version.  Their version is such a great “tribute” to her that I think it is a great song all on it’s own, but it will never match the performance of the Cranberries original version.  I think they would probably agree with that statement.

Let me know what you think.  What version spoke to you more?  What did you think of the cover?  Or tell me anything you want.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed this edition of The Original vs. The Cover.


Another head hangs lowly
Child is slowly taken
And the violence caused such silence
Who are we mistaken

But you see it’s not me
It’s not my family
In your head, in your
Head they are fighting
With their tanks and their bombs
And their bombs and their guns
In your head,
In your head they are cryin’

In your head, in your head
Zombie, zombie, zombie
Hey, hey
What’s in your head, in your head
Zombie, zombie, zombie
Hey, hey, hey, oh
Dou, dou, dou, dou
Dou, dou, dou, dou
Dou, dou, dou, dou
Dou, dou, dou, dou

Another mother’s breakin’
Heart is taking over
When the violence causes silence
We must be mistaken

It’s the same old theme since nineteen-sixteen
In your head,
In your head they’re still fightin’
With their tanks and their bombs
And their bombs and their guns
In your head, in your head they are dyin’

In your head, in your head
Zombie, zombie, zombie
Hey, hey
What’s in your head, in your head
Zombie, zombie, zombie
Hey, hey, hey
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Hey, oh, ya, ya-a

Written by Dolores O’Riordan

15 thoughts on “The Original vs. The Cover – “Zombie”

  1. Great writeup….
    Really sad on why went down with the Cranberries …first and foremost she was a mother with young kids…
    Both great versions of the song actually…I would go with a draw on this one personally speaking…

    Liked by 2 people

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