Registration with

register

lost password recovery

recover my password

sign in

  • If you registered before August, 2014, you will need to register again. Sorry for the inconvenience.
  • remember me
sign in

Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact

Sign up for our newsletter

Get the Newsletter

Mad World by Tears for Fears

Album: The HurtingReleased: 1983Charted:
3
  • This song is about a depressed young person who feels out of place in this world. He sees life as being empty, and looks for ways to escape the pain. The lyrics, "The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had" suggests thoughts of suicide, as he just wants the pain to end. (thanks, B.G. - maryville, TN)
  • This was Tears for Fears' first ever UK hit. It was produced by Chris Hughes, a former drummer with Adam and the Ants.
  • Gary Jules covered this for the 2001 movie Donnie Darko. The director Richard Kelly hoped to end the film with the U2 track "MLK," but he couldn't afford the rights. So composer Michael Andrews and childhood friend Gary Jules made a rough recording of this Tears for Fears song to see if Kelly thought it would be suitable. Kelly was so impressed that he used that same recording on the film.
  • Jules' cover was much slower and more melodic than the upbeat, dance tune by Tears for Fears, which some believe is more in keeping with the lyrics. Others believe the original to be ironic, and that this was lost in the Gary Jules version. (thanks, Jeffrey - Victoria, Canada)
  • Jules' version was the surprise UK Christmas #1 of 2003, holding off The Darkness and Ozzy & Kelly Osbourne. (thanks, George - Bristol, England)
  • The video for Gary Jules' version was directed by Michel Gondry (The Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind). Speaking to AOL Music in 2011, Jules explained the clip was conceived wholly by the French director. "Working with him was humbling," he said. "So easy. What I loved about his vision was that he didn't try to tell you anything about how mad the world is. No news clippings, no snide quips or saccharine melodrama. No tanks, no soundbites, no politics. Just universal images, art, life. More powerful than any issue-oriented sentiment."
  • The song was recorded by Susan Boyle for her third album, Someone to Watch Over Me. She explained what the song means to her: "That's about social comment. It's as though your eye is a camera and you're looking outward and observing. It's a very surreal song."
or Register to post comments

Comments: 66

I can't believe all of the numpties who like Gary Jules version of this song better! I know everyone is entitled to their opinion but it sickens me when people actually like a crappy cover better than the classic original! Tears for Fears for LIFE and 80S ONLY! I love you Curt and Roland!!Kayla - England
I was sick to death of the Jules version. I heard the Tears For Fears version and I like it. One does not simply do a song more slowly and expect that it will be better.Sioraf - Macroon, Ireland
I like Gary Jules cover better.. just sayin' it fits more my style.Daniel - Winchester, Oh
anyone else remember that part on the gears of war trailer? i think it is on the game itself. but i dont know.Jd - Paoli, In
The chorus of this song borrows it's melody from the bridge of the Cat Stevens hit, "Matthew & Son."

He's got people who've been working, for 50 years
No one asks for more money, cause nobody cares
Even though they're pretty low and, they're rents in arrears.
Dan - Los Angeles, Ca
I like the Tears For Fears "Mad World" because of how it's upbeat.I like the Gary Jules version because of the piano and I like his voice.Both versions are special in there own way.I think this song is really beautiful.Jema - South Portland, Me
If you have never heard Tears For Fears "Mad World" ,you are just part of the mad world and its ironic which lacks "self-awareness" that it is so backwards and illogically stupid.People work to pay the taxes,people work for 50 years and never decide to write a book,write a song,perform live,be an adventurer,be something great..they all settle to be part of a mchine of madness.The original song "Mad World" by Tears for Fears portrays in irony the attitude of a person coming of age who steps into the "real world" only realize its anything but "grown up"...infact its MAD.Its a mad world...little kids wait for the day they feel good happy birthday..its ironic that those same children grow up to be poop shoveling machines of an insane society that drivels in going in circles,as it is unaware of itself and its madness. Gary Jules,and adam lambert bastardized the song..because they turned it into a bastardized suicide note rather than the original in its context of Irony and attitude.Matt - Glendale, Az
Eh-oh! REM never covered this I am told...Jule's cover is often mistaken for REM! LOL! Oh well! Nonetheless, I love it!Janetlee - Panama City, Fl
If you listen to REM's cover of this, you're in for a treat! It is awesome!Janetlee - Panama City, Fl
This is not the Tears for Fears version. This is the Gary Jules version. You can tell not only because of the slower tempo and voice but because of the video. I like Gary's version a lot better. It was featured on House and some other programs and some movies.James Wilson - Trenton, Nj
Let me state two things. One, I don't care much for Adam Lambert, but I think his cover of this song fits the lyrics better than either of the other two artists. The lyrics are heavy and his arrangement is hypnotic and captivating. Jules' version is probably the next best and unfortunately, the original version by Tears for Fears is the worst in my opinion because it's tempo doesn't match the weight of the song. Just my two cents...David - Summit Hill, Pa
Both versions are pretty good, I personally like Gary Jules version better though..Daniel - Winchester, Oh
the way gary jules sings it makes it more appropriate to the lyrics. the irony of the tears for fears version is that it has an up beat new wave dance sound, but gloomy lyrics.Johnathan - Albuquerque, Nm
Tears For Fears is one of those bands that actually has meaningful and applicable lyrics that make a song. "Mad World", is a great example, showing deep insight in the troubled youth. Gary Jules and Richard may not have done this song justice when they covered it for Donnie Darko, but their cover is a unique song of it's own. They actually transcended the song into a spiritually open glimpse into a meloncholy dimension. Sadly, Adam Lambert's version is too dramatic. He is a whiney homosexual who complains that men should be just as entitled to be sexually explicit and revealing in the media as women have come to be by pushing the limits, when it's already too much. Anyway, this song is one of my favorites.James - New Market, In
this song is best known for its use in Donnie Darko, but it was also the first hit for Tears for Fears. seeing them tomorrow! :DMimzy - Salem, Or
Adam Lambert is the best signer I have ever heard! And I am not making a joke. This song is haunting.Theresa - Murfreesboro, Tn
Adam Lambert? The screaming "singer". Wow.Og - Los Angeles, Ca
This has always been one of my favorite tunes, and I think Adam Lambert's interpretation on American Idol of the Gary Jules version was the launching point for his popularity on the show, and probably beyond.Leah - Brooklyn, Ny
I find it interesting how songs of different eras can find new life with a new artist, new tempo, and new arrangement. It speaks to the durability of a quality song. The words to this songs are so haunting and the 2/4 tempo along with the minor key and simplistic piano accompaniement make them even more meaningful. One has to wonder if popular music style of the time has a conscious or subconcious affect on the way the song is presented. The Tears for Fears version is a classic example of what a song should sound like in 1983 with the drum machine robotic dance rhythm and various other rhythmic "noises". Notice the "mandatory" dance moves of the guy in the background during the video at 1:44 through 2:02. They sure look corny now.Ron - New Harmony, Ut
I have written a Remix to this song Not making fun but bringing out the good:

Top prime there is no more
What's the point in searchin' what is it for
I go to sleep as a lonely stray
Wake up to school on the baddest day
Try harder who the heck am I trying to be
I once was blind right now I see
There's people bringing me down I aint ever gonna make it
But this is an open opportunity I bet I'll take it
In every school I go there's a rich kid who tries
They pick a fight with me, then I'm just caught in a lie
I've never won a fight but I still fight them
Never made it big, but my songs I still write them

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out places
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, Going nowhere
And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

I find it kind of funny it was just last week
They were standing in the class calling me a freak
But now they're my friends because I have a little cash
They're in to rolling hard cuz' they heard about a bash
My girl was ugly, psycho a freak
Where's yours right now think before you speak
My dad neglects me but I still move on
I fight my emotions til' the worst is gone
Hang my head low I walk til' used
I'm doing what's right I'm so confused
Is it believing what's right when you run out of luck
I hope I sell an album even though I suck

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy Birthday, Happy birthday
Made to feel the 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



December 25th it was cold that night
Christmas wasn't much but it all seemed right
Two shirts and a tape recorder that's all I had
But I didn't have my mom fighting with my stepdad
Cuz' I remember we were going broke
They were cussing and fighting my mom got choked
We were headin' down the driveway tryin' not to cry
And I was hoping the cops would just kill that guy
Control my emotions trust a friend
Tell the shrink and be back on the same dead end
I'm never taking crap like I did last year
I'll make it big but I'm heading out of here
Some people say I suck way towards the USA
Man I don't give a heck give a care what you say
My world is a very, very mad world
So mad I just want to hurl
Some people question me, how the heck can I move on
With no brothers by my side and my families always gone
I guess I just had it in me all along
I just had it in a paper I just had to write the song
When I dropped a beat I still kept writin'
When I threw a punch I still kept fightin'
I guess I'll have another time
Laying back just livin' my prime

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out places
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, Going nowhere
And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow
Jonathan - Paoli, In
Adam Lambert will have a hit with this song. He is amazing.Fay - Idaho Falls, Id
Many ppl will hate me now, but I still think the Tears for Fears is much better than Gary Jules.

The version of GJ may be slower and he sings with more feeling but I don't think that's better, cause the singer (Orzabal) had his own point of view while he wrote the song.
So Orzabal made the song perfect, cause he was able to express his feelings like he wanted to.
So he decided how to sing the song and so it sounds maybe a bit monotonous...
Livia - Schaffhausen, Switzerland
It's just a song about "quiet desperation" as Pink Floyd once called it.Matt - Boston, Ma
The Jules version is incredible. I don't know if any of you are fans of "The Shield", but if so check out this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSmTg6pS1fI
Matt - Boston, Ma
This song totally brings me down, but that's okay... Gary's version is so simple and stabs at any pain that may be lingering in your soul.. despair?? THANK GOD i dont listen to this song ofter and prefer my Christian music...Aann - Miami, Fl
can yankovic make a parody of this song? anyway the jule's version is quite good than the original oneFulu Thompho - Limpopo, South Africa
Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith got Tears For Fears back together and released a new album in 2004.

CNN asked them about Gary Jules cover. They said they loved it; they graciously said it was better than their original.

They went on to say that it made them rethink the song a bit, and now they play it slower in concerts.

There's a live version on their "Gold" collection that is a brilliant melding of both interpretations.
David - San Francisco, Ca
If you like Gary's version, that's GREAT! I like it as well. It's very different than the original by TFF, BUT don't rag on the original, I mean it was written by Roland. So at least give him full credit for the cool lyrics that you seem to enjoy! And Roland wrote the music too so you can't actually "hate" nor not like the original. Now Gary's version is more current to today's sound and reflects the mood of Donnie Darko perfectly. The faster electro/synth sound TFF used back in 81/82 was ahead of it's time. Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith wrote hundreds of songs, this was just one of them. Many you still hear today: EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD, SHOUT, Head Over Heals, Woman In Chains, Sowing the Seeds of Love, CHANGE, I don't know how many hit songs Gary Jules has written but he picked a cool song to redo with Mad World.Koos - Tulsa, Ok
The song writer:Roland Orzabal did the best at this song from start to finish because of pioneering and creativity. That took great talent to have someone even consider copying it almost 20 years later and use it in a movie. It was only because a very lyrically great song was created that Gary Jules was able to do a very good copy. He heard what he wanted to change, like the speed, that gave it a good feeling that worked very well and may very well have enhanced the song for the better. I give the real credit to Tears for Fears! And I really like Sara Hickman's version. Date of this message is 5-20-08. What do yall think? 1986 Grad.
-AL,Galveston Island,TX,
Al - Galveston Island, Tx
Jules version is way better and more mainstream that the Tears For Fears version.Yos - Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
gary's version is wayy stellar! i love the fact that it was used on the gears of war commercial..it rele gives u the feeling that something intense and sad is happening!Br!tt@ny - Florissant, Mo
I think the Tears For Fears version is funky.......I love it!!! But no seriously Jules is way better!Jezebel - Lincoln, Mo
I had never heard the tears for fears version, and I'm so glad it was rescued by a real artist. If it hadn't been redone it would have landed in the crappy 80's bin with so many others.Hannah - Madison, Wi
This song is so cool. Gary Jules did a more dark cover for it too. Both of them are awsome!Max - Laconia, Nh
The cover is so much better than this.John - Hendersonville, Nc
this song is so beautifulSoso - Somewhere, United States
donnie darko is a weird movie but it's good for a drama thriller and i like weird so whatever good song has a kool video i like both the cover and the original i have to say that they were both done very well........of course the original is usually better but i think for this one they might be tied if you ask me.Joe - Chicago, Ar
Although I enjoy both versions of the song quite a lot, I think that it is kind of stupid to think the GJ version was the way it was ment to be, as the meaning of a song is open to the interpretation of the Listener/Singer. It may have made perfect since to both parties that took place in singing it, and simply ment something totally diffrent to each one. That doesn't nessaraly make either interpretation incorrect, it just means that they are diffrent people, and have diffrent views of the world. You also have to take into account the diffrent time periods in which the songs were made, as was said earlier--"This song was written in a time of social and political unrest in the united kingdom, this song was rolands view point on the dystopian Thatcherite goverment of the 1980s."
- roz cuthbert, darlington, England

and as far as I can tell, the only reason GJ remade Mad World was to be a soundtrack for Donnie Darko, ( I have researched this, albit not very deeply.) And if this was the case, and the remake was sung solely to fit the purposes of the movie, then the original was far better.
Matt - Lexington, Me
I like the Gary Jules version better as well...

I also thought that the PR people used this very nicely with the ads for Gears of War.

Youtube link: http://youtube.com/watch?v=ccWrbGEFgI8
Karl - Spokane, Wa
Jason Kerrison of the New Zealand band Opshop did a very similar version of the Gary Jules recording. It was not a full recording, just part of the song, recorded for a holiday road safety TV advert. The haunting way in which it was sung, along with the images of loved ones fading slowly out of old photographs (the people who faded away had died in road accidents) was brilliant.
-John, Auckland, New Zealand
John - Auckland
I love the Gary Jules version, its at the end of my favorite movie! Im not so in love with the Tears for Fears version, but its, well, alright to say it for the best. But i think even though Gary didnt write it, i think he had a better idea of what the song was about and how to bring out its best qualities.Shannon - Auburn, Wa
Talking about remixes/remakes: There's a mash of the original Mad World with the song 'Giant' from an artist named Cass (:?) It's a great, breakbeat song and it's name is either 'Giant Mad World' or 'Mad New World'. When you hear it you first think: 'Yeah sure, that ain't Mad world!' but as the song goes along you suddenly hear the original song coming through. And then, bahm! Curts siniging! I played it like a thousand times already, And I still get shivers when I hear it! It's a real recommandation if you're into TFF and not afraid to listen to some remixes (Like me).
Althought it has a lenght of 10.56, it's worth listening to.
It was released in 2003 but I don't believe it was like a hit, just one of those good songs they never play(ed) on the radio.
T. Michels - Venlo, Netherlands
To me, a real TFF-fan, it doesn't wheter Gary Jules sing it or TFF. Jules' version is a very good interpretation of the song, just as TFF said theirselves, they thought that Jules gave the song a twist wich made it perfect.

Great song
T. Michels - Venlo, Netherlands
The line "the dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had" are a reference to Dr Arthur Janov's theories on Primal Therapy that Roland Orzabel had read. The song "Shout" also refers to this subject.
Primal Therapy is a field of psychology which advocates the release of repressed pain.
Mark - Birmingham, England
the original does what it says on the tin,donnie version is selling out and screwing up the real meaning of the song,why change it? u ruined it.Craig - Falkirk, Scotland
It's funny when I first heard this song I thought he says " the dreams I meet John Gotti are the best I ever had"Rob - Albuquerque, Nm
i Love the gary jules version. it fits so pefectly at the end of donnie darko. "i find it kind of funny, i find it kind of sad, the dreams in which im dying are the best ive ever had." it just reminds me of donnie darko himself. the jules version is very slow and haunting, it sticks with you. i also like the tears for fears version, but i love the gary jules cover more. great song!Izzie - Lala, Hi
Tears For Fears' version? Great! Gary Jules' version? PANTS!Dave - Cardiff, Wales
The melody to "I find it kind of funny I find it kind of sad..." is quite similar to Cat Stevens' Matthew and Son: "He's got people who've been working for fifty years - No one asks for more money cuz nobody cares - Even though they're pretty low and their rent's in arrears"Anonymous
My favorite Tears for Fears song. I related so much to this song when I was in high school, feeling alienated and different. Simple and intense song. "The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had" is one of the best lines ever.Nicole - Nottellin, Or
This song (the original tears for fears version which is the only credible version) was written in a time of social and political unrest in the united kingdom, this song was rolands view point on the dystopian Thatcherite government of the 1980s.Roz Cuthbert - Darlington, England
Gary Jules is an amazing artist and covers this song beautifully. Haunting and mesmorizing, but honest and spiritually meaningful.Laura - Spencerport, Ny
It sure was written by Roland Orzabal. Good song, original is better, the new one seems like Gary sold out and used the song for his use to make an extra buck.Lucas - Someplace In Ca, Ca
CSI bastardized the song it didn't properly convey the mood at all i want to kill CSI to death.Eric - Corunna, Mi
I first heard the Jules/Andrews version on the csi show and was inthrawled with it, I couldnt get it out of my head and it was so familiar. I finally found the name of it and saw it was an old tears for fears song who I never cared for but explains where I had heard it before. In my opinion the tears for fears version seem kinda funny being that up beat with such sad lyrics. Can anyone tell me who actually wrote the song? Was it orzbal (im sure i mispelled his name) from tears for fears? i cant find the writing credits. thanxWilliam - Ny, Ny
Gary Jule's version was used in the opening of CSI on September 29, 2005.Jerad - Terre Haute, In
The Gary Jules' version was also included in a production by PJ Paperelli called "Columbinus" obviously about the 1999 shooting at Columbine. In the play this song along the the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" stand out. This song fit absolutley perfectly as its lyrics depict almost exactly the mood of the characters. I don't think that the Tears for Fears song would fit too well anyhow just thought I would throw that in.K.t. - Juneau, Ak
I have never heard the tears for fears version, but the Gary Jules song is awesome. Donnie Darko is an awesome movie. I watched it in my film class in high school. the teacher had us write a paper on "Mad World" after we had listened to it. I kept thinking of this song my first few days in college because i felt alienated and alone. "went to school and i was very nervous, no one knew me...no one knew me".Johnny - Rockland, Ma
i dont think the tears for fears version fits the lyrics at all, it seems to jolly but as said it could be ironic, thenagain what kind of person would be ironic about lyrics so grimGeorge - England, England
Gary Jules' version is nowhere near as good as the original, and it is one of the many reasons why I abhor the movie Donnie Darko.Ross - Lafayette, La
This song is so...yes haunting and I love it. It suits the way you feel sometimes when you feel alone. Tremendous song.Q - Shorewood, Il
Yeah, Donnie Darko is a very good film...too bad it's now whored by annoying goths.Leon - Waterbury, Ct
I prefer Gary Jules' version...a fantastic, haunting ballad.Leon - Waterbury, Ct
I had never heard this tune till watching Donnie Darko. This is such a great under-rated movie with an excellent soundtrack, but this song ending the movie was so perfect. I love a good soundtrack, but where songs fall within the movie is much more important then the song per se. I really don't care for the Tears for Fears version. I think the slower more depressing one plays out so much better. Richard Kelly made a great choice in using this like he did. I just wish more directors had that kind of musical sense.Dee - Indianapolis, In
Donnie Darko also featured the song "Head Over Heels" (by Tears For Fears, of course).

It was used in a nice little scene where a camera flies around the school...not exactly fitting, considering it observes drug use and the etcetera, but my favorite part of the movie nonetheless. Perhpaps it's only because I love the song so much.
John - Millersville, Md
Jule's version was perfectly suited for the end of Donnie Darko. There's something so haunting about this song, regardless of who sings it.Rachael - Calgary, Canada