The 80s Come Alive: Mad World (Tears for Fears/Gary Jules)
Sometimes having a depressing childhood can be a good thing. Good, that is, if you have the skills to take those experiences and turn them into a platinum selling album dealing with feelings of alienation, depression, and battles with primal scream therapy thrown in for good measure. All of these subjects were tackled on Tears for Fears debut album 'The Hurting', released in 1983. Sometimes referred to as a concept album, 'The Hurting' was a bleak portrait of singer/songwriter/guitarist Roland Orzabal's childhood in Bath, England. Orzabal's songs, combined with bassist/vocalist Curt Smith's plaintive delivery, produced three worldwide hit singles from their debut: 'Pale Shelter, 'Change', and today's featured blast from your 80's past, 'Mad World'.
Although the band was surprised at the initial success of 'Mad World' when it was originally released it continues to have legs today, having been covered by over two dozen artists to date. The best known version comes from the 2001 soundtrack for the movie 'Donnie Darko', as recorded by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules. Their take on the song was a stripped down departure from TFF's original version and also charted highly worldwide, including the number one spot on the UK charts in 2003.
After the success of 'The Hurting', TFF followed that up with the 1985 album 'Songs from the Big Chair', which cemented the band's firm hold on the charts with the singles 'Shout', 'Head over Heals' and 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World'. After their album 'The Seeds of Love' was released in 1989, relations between Orzabal and Smith became strained, and in 1991 Curt Smith left the band while Orzabal continued to write, record, and release material under the Tears for Fears name. Smith released the solo albums 'Soul on Board' and 'Aeroplane' during his hiatus from the band. In 2000 Tears for Fears reformed, and in 2004 they released the album 'Everybody Loves a Happy Ending'.
Roland Orzabal continues to write and produce today, and Curt Smith, besides his involvement with the band, hosts the online show Stripped Down Live with Curt Smith (a great program, btw-watch it here).
Whew. That was a mouthful. So here we are, with 'Mad World', as promised. Take a look at a Tears for Fears performance of it from 1983, then Gary Jules recent take on the song, and finally back to the reformed Tears for Fears, along with an orchestra and choir back up in 2006. Go big or stay home, right?
Tears for Fears, from 1983:
Tears for Fears, 2006: