The song, which laments The Troubles in Northern Ireland and in particular the killing of two children in an IRA bombing in Warrington, England, was written by Dolores O'Riordan, singer of the band. The song features a heavy guitar riff, which, uncharacteristic of the band's usual sound, is more akin to the grunge/alternative metal sound that was popular in the early to mid-1990's. This song met great success in many countries, including France, Belgium, Austria, Australia and Germany where it topped the charts.
"Zombie" was released as a music video in 1994. The video was directed by Samuel Bayer, and produced by Doug Friedman and H.S.I. Productions. In the video Dolores O'Riordan is covered in gold makeup and appears in front of a cross. The video also contains shots of British soldiers on patrol in Northern Ireland. The video refers to The Easter Rising in Ireland in 1916, and is a criticism of the continuation of violence in Ireland from then until the song's release in 1994.