This week’s pick is actually two versions of the same song– Mad World.
The original is by ’80’s pop rock duo Tears for Fears, and sounds exactly like you would expect an ’80’s pop hit to sound. Synthesizers and percussion, and a pace meant for dance.
It’s catchy, but if you’ve heard other similar songs from the era, I wouldn’t blame you if you were bored after a while.
That’s where the second version comes in.
This is the better version, in my opinion. It’s a haunting ballad, unlike the original. It’s made more haunting by the fact that it played in the movie Donnie Darko. So every time I listen to it I can see a young Jake Gyllenhaal and his manic laugh as he lies down in bed. And I can see Frank the rabbit. Watch the movie, if you don’t understand.
This second version is by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules, featuring primarily a piano and cello, and was released twenty years after the original. And, thanks to Donnie Darko, it became an unqualified hit.
The lyrics are an especially good fit for the movie:
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.
Oh, and one of these days I need to watch Donnie Darko again, and write about it here. You should watch it too.
As an aside– Michael Andrews did the second version of this song and the score of Donnie Darko. He also did the background score of the movie I will continue to champion here and everywhere else until the end of time– Me and You and Everyone We Know.