[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.
Oh, BTW, women: No guy has ever authentically listened to The Cranberries. If a guy has ever said, "Man, I just really appreciate Dolores O'Riordan's emotive stylings" to you, what he was really saying was, "I have a penis and you have a hand; we should maybe get those two together soon."
Besides being Black, Marcus initially had this mystery attached to his persona because he'd transferred to our school about two months into his junior year. Whenever people would ask him where he was from, he'd always say "Africa." And he wasn't, like, being cutesy about it either; he really wanted people to know that he was legitimately from Africa. He would say that his family moved "to escape persecution." We all thought it was great. I mean, what's that saying? In the land of the blind, the guys that hang out with the one guy in school from Africa are fucking boss? Something like that.
At any rate, one day at lunch, the "Where are you from?" conversation started happening and some big brained kid probed further. "That's cool. Which country?" Marcus was flummoxed. "What do you mean?" Marcus asked. "Well, Africa's a continent, not a country." You know what Marcus' response was? Nothing. He just got up and left. Because he didn't have an answer. Because he wasn't from Africa. He was from fucking Dallas. That's the kind of shit that eventually happened to everyone that ever said they liked The Cranberries.
Weird Thing From The Video: In the video, there are gold-painted kids wearing cloth underwear. Here's how that conversation should've gone:
Casting: Hey, your kid is cute. Want him to be in a music video?
Casting: Of course, we'll have to paint his entire body gold. And he'll be shirtless. And he'll be sitting in front of a woman also painted gold standing in front of a giant cross singing about violence.
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(I) Are cranberries a fruit? I've never known.
(II) The Cranberries owned the mid-'90s.
(III) Anytime someone wants to paint your child, just say no. Play it safe, is what I'm saying.