Mad World – which version do you like best?

March 2, 2009
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One of my all-time favorite sons, Mad World, originally by Tears for Fears has been redone countless times and in each new interpretation, artists have brought their own passion and truth to what is in my opinion a very haunting and provocative song. I was amazed to find that the song has been used to the extent that is has been – see below and enjoy!
– FlashAddict

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– fan made Machinima trailer that covers the entire song – was inspired after watching the original trailer above

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All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow
And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying
Are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It’s a very, very
Mad World
Mad world
Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
And I feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what’s my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me
And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying
Are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It’s a very, very
Mad World
Mad World
Enlarging your world
Mad World.
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“Mad World” began life as the intended b-side for Tears for Fears’ second single “Pale Shelter (You Don’t Give Me Love)”. The band decided, however, that it may be something people would like to hear on the radio and held back its release, instead waiting to issue the song as a single in its own right after re-recording it with Chris Hughes.

That came when I lived above a pizza restaurant in Bath and I could look out onto the centre of the city. Not that Bath is very mad – I should have called it “Bourgeois World”!

Roland Orzabal

“Mad World” was the first single off the finished album. The intention was to gain attention from it and we’d hopefully build up a little following. We had no idea that it would become a hit. Nor did the record company.

Curt Smith


Lyrically the song is pretty loose. It throws together a lot of different images to paint a picture without saying anything specific about the world.

Roland Orzabal

It’s very much a voyeur’s song. It’s looking out at a mad world from the eyes of a teenager.

Curt Smith

Mad World” is a song by the British band Tears for Fears. Written by Roland Orzabal and sung by bassist Curt Smith, it was the band’s third single release and first chart hit, reaching #3 on the UK Singles Chart in November 1982. Both “Mad World” and its b-side, “Ideas As Opiates”, would turn up on the band’s debut LP The Hurting the following year. The song would eventually become Tears for Fears’ first international success, reaching the Top 40 in several countries between 1982 and 1983.

Two decades later, the song made a popular resurgence when it was covered by composers Michael Andrews and Gary Jules for the soundtrack to the movie Donnie Darko. This version reached no.1 in the UK in December 2003.

Michael Andrews and Gary Jules version

“Mad World” would achieve a second round of success beginning almost twenty years later, after it was covered by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules for the film Donnie Darko (2001). While the Tears for Fears version featured various synthesizers and percussion, the Andrews/Jules version was stripped down. Instead of a full musical backing, it used only a set of piano chords, a cello, and modest use of a vocoder on the chorus. Their version was originally released on CD in 2002 on the film’s soundtrack, but an increasing cult following spawned by the movie’s DVD release finally prompted Jules and Andrews to issue the song as a proper single. The release was a runaway success in late 2003, becoming the Number One single over the Christmas holiday in the UK, a feat Tears for Fears themselves never accomplished. The music video has been very popular on Youtube, garnerning over 11 million views as of 2009.

Popular culture

In late 2006, a condensed version of the Andrews/Jules cover of “Mad World” was featured in the award-winning commercial for the video game Gears of War. The advertisement has been credited with helping propel the song to #1 on the iTunes sales chart. In addition to its usage in numerous advertisements and fan-made YouTube videos, the Andrews/Jules cover has also become a popular choice for background music in television dramas, having appeared in the following series:

  • Cold Case
  • CSI
  • Emmerdale
  • ER
  • Jericho
  • Judging Amy
  • Las Vegas
  • Line of Fire
  • Medical Investigation
  • Nip/Tuck
  • Silent Witness
  • Smallville
  • Station X
  • Tatort
  • The Cleaner
  • The L Word
  • Third Watch
  • Without a Trace

In 2006, the song appeared on Broadway as the closing number in Butley starring Nathan Lane.

Other versions

In addition to the Andrews/Jules version, “Mad World” has been recorded over the years by the following artists:

  • French artist Nicola Sirkis, frontman of the new wave band Indochine, on his solo album Dans La Lune… (1992).
  • American industrial rock band Kill Switch…Klick, on the Cleopatra Records compilation New Wave Goes To Hell (1998).
  • American alternative rock band Finch, on their EP Rolling Stone Acoustic Session (2002).
  • British singer-songwriter Alex Parks, on her debut album, Introduction (2003).
  • American industrial act Brainclaw, downloadable on their website (2004).
  • American metalcore band Evergreen Terrace, on their album Writer’s Block (2004).
  • German punk rock band Die Toten Hosen, on their live DVD Rock am Ring 2004 (2004).
  • Australian art rock band The Red Paintings, on their EP Walls (2005). This cover features an acoustic cello and guitar arrangement. While they modified the lyrics from the original version, in live performances they are known to enunciate words in different fashion giving it an altogether unique sound.
  • German DJ Jan Wayne, on his single Mad World (2005).
  • American singer-songwriter Sara Hickman, on her double album Motherlode (2006).
  • Canadian rock bassist Ken Tizzard, on his album Quiet Storey House… An Introduction (2006).
  • German a cappella group Wise Guys, on their album Radio (2006).
  • American dark cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls, on their live DVD Live at the Roundhouse (2007). The performance features Trash McSweeney of Australian art rock band The Red Paintings.
  • Canadian folk-singer Tara MacLean, on her EP Signs of Life (2007).
  • German vocal band Gregorian, on their album Masters of Chant Chapter VI (2007).
  • Vietnamese-Canadian singer Kristine Sa recorded a cover of the song.
  • Israeli actress and model Melanie Peres recorded a cover of the song, as the theme song of Reshef Levy‘s film, “Lost Islands“.