The music video for the Cranberries’ 1994 political protest song “Zombie,” which was written and performed by the late Dolores O’Riordan, has topped one billion views on YouTube. “Zombie” is the third video from the 1990s and the sixth video from the 20th century to exceed one billion views on YouTube. The others are “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses (1992), “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana (1991), “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses (1987), “Take On Me” by A-ha (1985), and “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen (1975). (1975).
The Cranberries are the first Irish musician or musical group to reach 1 billion views on YouTube. To date in 2020, “Zombie” has an average of 178,000 daily YouTube views. The band has been rallying fans to help push “Zombie” to one billion views on YouTube, which it ultimately reached on April 18 after several months of effort.
O’Riordan wrote the song as a protest song after IRA explosions in Warrington, northwest England, in March 1993 killed two children and injured 56 others. “Zombie,” which features her signature yodel-like vocals, was produced by the Cranberries’ longtime collaborator Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur).
The band’s second album, “No Need to Argue,” included the single “Zombie,” which was released in September 1994. This music was recorded in the Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin.
The music video for “Zombie” was directed by Samuel Bayer, who earlier filmed “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. During The Troubles, Bayer captured rare film of Northern Ireland street scenes in Belfast, featuring youngsters playing war games and now-famous political and historical murals. In the music video, a gold-gilded O’Riordan wears a crown of thorns and stands before a massive cross surrounded by silver cherubs, with outdoor shots of the band performing.
When it debuted in the fall of 1994, the BBC initially banned the music video due to violent images, including glimpses of youngsters holding firearms. In June 2009, the official “Zombie” video, which was developed in a pre-HD 4:3 aspect ratio, was published on YouTube.
The other members of the Cranberries, drummer Fergal Lawler, guitarist Noel Hogan, and bassist Mike Hogan, decided to separate after O’Riordan’s death in January 2018. At the time of her passing, she was scheduled to collaborate with the hard rock supergroup Bad Wolves on a rendition of “Zombie.” The group’s video for “Zombie” has over 300 million views on YouTube.