“Mad World” by Gary Jules

“Mad World” is written from the perspective of an angsty teenager, if you will. What really has him on guard is what he perceives as the deadening redundancy of the everyday world. And there are two general scenarios he uses to illustrate this point.

First is being turned off by the prospect of participating in the rat race. That is he sees people headed to work every morning who appear – for lack of a better word – lifeless.  And likewise the idea that he will share a similar destiny has him depressed.

Secondly, he refers to childhood itself as being detrimental to an individual’s self-esteem.  For instance, he insinuates that the only time children are shown proper love and appreciation, which they should be receiving regularly, is actually during events like their birthdays. He also reminisces on his own (presumably early) school days. And the way the narrative plays out is as if he was in need of attention and all (being a “nervous” child) which he totally did not receive.


And this brings us to the chorus, which summarizes his dismal mood. It all boils down to him having a sad, arguably even suicidal, outlook towards life. And it can be said that the reason for so is that he does not actually understand why people will not break the aforementioned dispiriting routines. And due to this illogically course that they tend to take, he recognizes this as a “very mad world”. That is people continue to “run” in the same “circles” which are depressing them in the first place.

Facts about “Mad World”

This is the cover of a song which was originally released by Tears for Fears in 1982.

Gary Jules’ cover was was issued, by Sanctuary Records, as part of his 2001 album “Trading Snakeoil for Wolftickets”.

The following year, he dropped another rendition of the song at the behest of Michael Andrews, a childhood friend of his. Andrews had been given the responsibility of putting together the soundtrack for a film “Donnie Darko” (2001). He contacted Jules and they both reworked on “Mad World” for the film.

“Mad World” was written by Tears for Fears’ Roland Orzabal.

Gary Jules produced “Mad World” on his own album. However, the production of the version on the “Donnie Darko” soundtrack was handled was handled by Michael Andrews.

And it is actually Jules’ collaboration with Andrews which proved to be the more-popular rendition. For instance, the song topped the UK Singles Chart, including holding the crown during the highly-coveted Christmas season in 2003.

“Mad World” also reached number one in Portugal and Scotland. It even achieved the same feat on Billboard’s Adult Alternative Songs chart. It did not, however, appear on the Hot 100.

And outside of that, this classic also charted in over 10 other countries. In addition to that, it was certified Platinum in Italy and the United Kingdom.

And the direction of the music video for the Jules/Andrews’ version was handled by Michel Gondry.

1 Response

  1. From the Heart says:

    How this songs lyrics are explained above is virtually exactly how I have felt since I was only 5 years old and have lived my whole life to this very day at the age of 62yrs old now still feeling and looking at the world and the human race the same as I did when I was only 5 years old.

    The human race is the most selfish race or species on this earth. I do not say this to be nastily or cruel, I say it with great sadness because I have met and known in my life some human beings with so much kindness and compassion in them that there actions have brought tears to my eyes and without them realizing it made it that I kept on living.

    There is so much I could say about songs like this one but most people don’t want to hear it or discuss those type of songs, reason being that’s negative thoughts or thinking when really its the truth and is the reality’s of how this race behaves towards one another. I have often thought that the words “Mad World” should have been “Bad World”……

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