A BRIEF HISTORY OF "MAD WORLD" COVERS, STARRING AESTHETIC SOUNDS

6/2/15
Aesthetic Sounds - Mad World

“Mad World” was the first charting hit for British synth rockers Tears for Fears, whose name continues to get more funny the further removed we become from their time of cultural relevance. Written in 1982, the song received a renaissance this millennium when Michael Andrews and Gary Jules covered it for the soundtrack of the cult classic Donnie Darko (we'll come back to that).

It may be due for another revival, thanks to an ingenious electropop cover by Manchester duo Aesthetics Sounds. The pair of Bipolar Sunshine and Murkage add a heavy dose of ambience to this seminal classic, remaking it in their “grey” image. This version feels wholly unique and breathes new life into a song that refuses to die.

You can download Aesthetics Sounds “Mad World” cover for free on their Soundcloud page.

 

AESTHETICS SOUNDS “MAD WORLD (TEARS FOR FEARS COVER)”

The best known version of “Mad World” is the Gary Jules one that appeared at the end of Donnie Darko. In 2003, two years after the film was released, it ended up being the #1 Christmas Single in the UK. The stripped-down, piano-driven version deeply resonates with the inherent sadness of the lyrics, as do Jules haunting vocals. Most anyone born after 1985 assumes that this is the original version of the song. This notion was only reinforced when Jules’ cover was used for the trailer for the Gears of War game.

 

GARY JULES “MAD WORLD (TEARS FOR FEARS COVER)”

Since Jules’ version reintroduced the song to pop culture it’s been covered by artists as diverse as Trampled By Turtles and Tiesto. On American Idol, Adam Lambert famously reunited the minimalism of Jules’s cover with the goth undertones of the original.

 

ADAM LAMBERT “MAD WORLD (TEARS FOR FEARS COVER)”

Of course none of these covers would exist without the genuine artifact, which just may be the best of them all.

 

TEARS FOR FEARS “MAD WORLD”

So now that you’ve learned the history of “Mad World” covers, the time has come for you to decide: Who did it best?

 

About Calvin Paradise

Calvin Paradise manages to live a productive life despite a childhood of home schooling and suffering from what some doctors have called the worst case of Groucho Marx's Syndrome in recorded history.