The Cranberries' 'Zombie': Why This Song Sucks
[Editor's note: Why This Song Sucks determines why particular tracks blow using science. It appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday.]
Song: The Cranberries, "Zombie"
History: "Zombie" came out in 1994. It was on No Need to Argue, the second album from the Irish rock band that everyone spent a few years pretending to like. BTW, Ireland, America still isn't over Tom Cruise's accent in Far and Away. Screw you for that.
Atmospherics: Swollen riffs; zah-om-bay-aye-ayes; psuedo sadness; creepy whimpering.
Scientific Analysis: There are no obvious transgressions here; no lapses in reason or logic, no faulty mechanics. This SEEMS an okay enough song. But "Zombie" (along with any Cranberries song, really) carries with it one massively unforgivable sin against science: It fosters faux intellectualism, and faux intellectualism is the fucking worst. It's worse than just being dumb.
Apparently, "Zombie" was written on a righteous righteousness tip to call out North Ireland for some serious bitchassness, and that's cool, I suppose. But the way it was packaged meant it mostly served as an excuse for people in high school and college to act like they knew that the world had more countries in it than the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Here, two pieces of empirical evidence:
The Jesse Dichotomy: There was one guy that I used to hang out with growing up named Jesse. Minus a semi-obsession with pornography, he was a sweet, good-natured kid. When this song got really popular, he started moping around all the time, saying shit like, "I just feel so bad for what's happening in Ireland right now." This from the same guy that drove his car into the side of his mom's house because he got the D and R mixed up on the gear shift. Jackass.
The Marcus Conundrum: The school I went to was almost exclusively Latino. There were MAYBE eight black kids there. One of them was named Marcus. He was a really likeable, really funny guy. We were on the basketball team together, and he lived two streets from me, so we became friends. And since he was in our social circle, and since our social circle's ethos was driven by the desire to (a) have people think we were tough and (b) trick girls into considering the notion that we were advanced enough for them to want to give us handjobs, The Cranberries' No Need to Argue album became a part of his discography just as quickly as Too Short's Cocktails. Before too long, he was a Cranberries zealot.