“Mad World” was the 1982 hit single from British duo Tears For Fears, appearing as the second track on their debut studio album “The Hurting”. The track was written by member Roland Orzabal, with production done by Tears for Fears producer Chris Hughes, and record producer Ross Cullum.
“Mad World” marked Tears For Fears first international success, with the song charting outside of the UK. The track was originally written on an acoustic guitar, after Orzabal was inspired to write a new wave song after Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film”, as well as being inspired by the theories of American psychotherapist Arthur Janov, and his lyric “the dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had”.
Orzabal spoke about the song, stating: “That came when I lived above a pizza restaurant in Bath and I could look out onto the centre of the city. Not that Bath is very mad – I should have called it “Bourgeois World!”. There also was a lot of confusion. Around some of the songs final lyrics, resulting in a “mondegreen”, meaning the misinterpretation or mishearing of a word/phrase and then creating a new meaning for it based on that interpretation. Curt Smith, the second half of Tears For Fears, spoke about this particular mondegreen on his official site in 2010:
“With Mad World’s again-resurgent popularity, I’m getting asked more frequently about the last line on the album version from The Hurting, a line which I occasionally also sing in concert. The actual line is: “Halargian world.” (Not “illogical world”, “raunchy young world”, “enlarging your world”, or a number of other interesting if not amusing guesses.) The real story: Halarge was an imaginary planet invented by either Chris Hughes or Ross Cullum during the recording of The Hurting. I added it as a joke during the lead vocal session, and we kept it. And there you have it.”
The Michael Andrews and Gary Jules version of the song was used at the end of the incredible 2001 film “Donnie Darko”, which only catapulted Andrews and Jules’ version straight into the mainstream media.
The music video for “Mad World” was filmed in summer 1982, on the grounds of Knebworth House in Hertfordshire. Directed by Depeche Mode’s director Clive Richardson, the video shows Curt Smith staring out a window while Orzabal dances on the ground, as well as a quick feature of the duo’s friends and family. When speaking to The Guardian in December 2013, Smith admitted: “When we made the video in a country estate on the cheap, we bussed all our friends and family up from Bath and had a fun day. The woman who’s having the birthday party in the video is my mum.” Since its upload to Tears For Fears’ YouTube channel in August 2013, the video has 17.2 million views and over 170 thousand likes.
Release Date: 20th September 1982
Songwriter: Roland Orzabal
Producer/s: Chris Hughes & Ross Cullum
Label/s: Phonogram & Mercury
Music Video Release Date: 1982
Music Video Director: Clive Richardson
Chart Rankings & Certifications: “Mad World” reached chart positions of:
– #12 in Australia
– #21 in Germany
– #6 in Ireland
– #25 in New Zealand
– #2 in South Africa
– #3 in the UK
“Mad World” received Silver certification in the UK.
The lyrics to “Mad World” can be read here: LINK
Find Tears for Fears on Apple Music: LINK
Find Tears for Fears on Spotify: LINK