Music Video Weekend: Gary Jules & Michael Andrews, “Mad World”

Not sure where I’ve been, but I just discovered this song — or this version of the song — as sung by Gary Jules for the Donnie Darko soundtrack. I have to listen to it every day. Sounds a little like Erik Satie meet Elliott Smith, and that’s a good thing.

It was originally written by Roland Orzabal and sung by Curt Smith of Tears for Fears, but Jules and co-writer Michael Andrews stripped it down to its sturdy core, sans the treacly elements of the Tears arrangement. I love the vulnerability in Mr. Jules’ voice. He nails the mood. And the video, directed by Michel Gondry, is sweet, too.

I also discovered that Adam Lambert did a decent-enough version of it on “American Idol,” full of sheen and surface gloss and smoke machines. Still: My money is on the Jules version.

Which do you prefer?

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The original, by Tears for Fears:

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Here’s Adam Lambert’s version, which is nothing new, basically just a prettified, copycat take on Jules and Andrews’ inventive reinterpretation. Or what Sting might call, TV karaoke:

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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

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

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
‘Cos I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It’s a very, very Mad World

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


  1. Kurtis says:

    Great choice. I like all three versions (including Adam’s), but Michael Stipes’… er, Gary Jules’ is my favorite. The video is also terrific.

  2. Liz S says:

    I’d always loved those TforF boys, till I saw the Jules video — brilliant.

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