Home > Melancholy Monday, Music > Melancholy Monday: sad songs (Mad World)

Melancholy Monday: sad songs (Mad World)

February 17, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

The first time I heard this song was when it was sung by a young man by the name of Adam Lambert on American Idol. He modeled his performance, which was mesmerizing, on a version of the song as done by Gary Jules for the movie Donnie Darko. Both Lambert’s and Jules’ versions of the song, though, differ dramatically from the original, which was written and performed by Tears For Fears. Personally, I dislike the original version because of what I feel is a disconnect between the mood evoked by the lyrics, which is somber, versus how the tune itself was sung and played, the latter being upbeat. I think the jarring nature of that difference was probably intentional, but to me it didn’t work.

Lambert’s (like Jules) version of the song is slow, dark, and moody, and in my opinion the lyrics and the music blend perfectly to create an overwhelming sense of despair and loneliness. How could this not be the case with lyrics such as this:

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I’m dying
Are the best I’ve ever had

You can listen to the song here:

To watch the original performance on American Idol, you can watch this video. A testament to how good it was, you’ll see Simon Cowell (my favorite judge) give one of only a few standing ovations he ever felt were deserved. Skip forward 45 seconds to see just the performance.

And finally, if you find yourself with time on your hands and an interest in seeing where this song really came from, here’s the original video as performed by Tears for Fears

Anyone prefer the original version over the new one? If so, why?


  1. February 17, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I LOVE Gary Jules’s version of this song. Such a heart-tugger. I have it on my playlist. I didn’t know Adam Lambert sang it, too, though. I enjoyed his version. Thanks for posting it.

    • February 17, 2014 at 8:25 pm

      I think my favorite is Adam’s, followed by Gary’s. There’s a few stuck-in-the-eighties folks who seem to prefer the Tears For Fears version, but I can’t figure out why πŸ™‚

      • February 18, 2014 at 4:32 am

        You and me both. After listening to these other versions, the Tears for Fears one sounds like it’s from one of those Kid Bop CDs.

  2. February 17, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    I have to agree with you, as iconic as the original is, it doesn’t quite tug at the heartstrings the way Gary’s version does. I love that song.

    • February 17, 2014 at 8:26 pm

      Yeah, the original had its place, having come from the original writers of the song. I suppose if I’d heard it first I might be convinced that it is the best version. But, as happens so often, if you hear a song and you like it, other versions just won’t cut it.

  3. February 17, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    I’m too much of a sucker for ’80s Euro-pop.

    So why all the moody tunes lately, Dave? How about Funky Friday or Speed Metal Sunday to balance things out a bit?


    • February 17, 2014 at 8:30 pm

      Ok, so during the ’80’s I was busy finishing college, getting married, finding a job, having kids. Somehow, with all that going on, I dropped out of the music scene for the most part. It’s like a black hole in my musical past. Hard to remember much in the way of music that was memorable, yet I know there was some good stuff released during that time.

      Hmm … well, you know, generally speaking Mondays are pretty dismal, so I was just trying to pass it along πŸ™‚ I think you’re right, though, I might just need to spice things up a bit to offset the melancholy. I kind of like the speed metal Sunday idea πŸ™‚

  4. February 17, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Being the 80’s gal that I am, I have to vote for the original version. I loved Tears for Fears, especially Everybody Wants to Rule the World. Thanks for taking me back, Dave!

    • February 17, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      Well, you’re welcome, Jill. Glad you enjoyed going back in time for a few minutes πŸ™‚ Never got on the Tears For Fears bandwagon, but then again, I don’t think I ever heard anything they did until the 80’s were well over πŸ™‚

  5. February 17, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    I love Adam Lambert. I watched some of his American Idol run but didn’t catch his performance of this song, so thanks once again for sharing! Like you, I prefer the versions of the song when the music matches the lyrics. I was shocked when I heard the original Tears for Fears version the first time.

    I’ll share another favorite melancholy song from Adam Lambert – Whataya Want From Me: http://youtu.be/X1Fqn9du7xo

    That song was actually written by P!nk, so I’ll share one of her songs today as well. P!nk – Sober: http://youtu.be/nJ3ZM8FDBlg

    • February 18, 2014 at 10:15 pm

      My wife and I were rooting for Adam on AI. Not too surprised he didn’t win …. I don’t think Idol was ready for it.

      The Pink song was great, and I really liked the video. Pretty wild πŸ™‚

  6. February 17, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    The original is terrible. I’m really glad it was redone. The Adam Lambert version is good, but I think I like the Gary Jules version the best.

    • February 18, 2014 at 9:48 pm

      Yeah, I don’t think the original is very good, but others seem to like it. If I’d heard Jules version first I might have preferred it. But I love the purity of Adam’s vocals.

  7. February 18, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    I’ve never been a fan of this song, even though I was a teenager in the 80’s I Never enjoyed Tears for Fears or any of those type of bands, I always preferred bands which had ‘real’ instruments which they could play well live which is one of the reasons I ended up listening to Heavy Metal.
    Even the Gary Jules version doesn’t do much for me although it’s much better.
    The reason I came here was because the article mentions Adam Lambert, I like his version just because it’s him singing it.
    My heart sinks a bit though every time he does because he has so many far better songs, some of which he has written himself yet whenever he’s at an event he always seems to end up singing this, and I’m sure it’s no coincidence that he recently parted ways with his record company because they wanted him to make an album of 80’s covers I think because of this song. So many people only seem to know him for this and he is so much more than just this song.

    • February 18, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      I was a huge fan of Adam on AI and was hoping he’d win. I liked all the great arrangements of songs he’d do on the show. I only heard one song of his post Idol and wasn’t too crazy about it. I should check out some of his other stuff because I do think he’s got a great voice.

      • February 19, 2014 at 1:33 am

        I’m curious to know which song it was you heard, the singles that were put out weren’t the best songs on the albums in my opinion, they weren’t the songs he wrote and apart from What do you want from me weren’t promoted as they should have been. In any case he is a far better live performer than he is on record, and that’s where he’s making his living at the moment. The best videos of him on You-Tube tend to be fan made videos from concerts. He’s a very versatile singer and has a massively wide range of songs on his albums it’s impossible to find one song which represents him. But here’s two of my favourites:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsbLEOaiGAM Shady Live with Nile Rogers

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCsXPLDcD6c Outlaws of Love live Debut

      • March 1, 2014 at 6:35 pm

        I think the only song I heard was, “What do you want from me”. Granted, that’s an admittedly small sample, but I just didn’t care for it. So, I just assumed that his musical style would fall into that type of music. It’s not that it’s bad, it just didn’t really appeal to me. Never really went back to listen to what else he was doing. Now, I can say, that these two songs, especially the second, I like much better. Funny, as I’m typing this response, I’m listening to “What do you want from me” and I actually kind of like it. Go figure? πŸ™‚

        Thanks for the pointers to the songs Any others you’d recommend?

  8. February 18, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    I don’t care whose version of Mad World Adam sings the one he did on AI S8 was phenomenal and I’ve never heard the audience so quiet in all 12 seasons. Also Simon gave Adam a SO and it was first time ever on AI for him.

    • February 18, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      Absolutely one of my favorite moments ever on AI.

  9. February 18, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    I remember Donnie Darko, but not the Gary Jules’s version of the song. Still, I think it would rate #1 with me (I liked the movie :)), but Adam Lambert’s version was well done, haunting rendition in a way that suited the lyrics. Tears For Fears suffered for being in existence during the post-disco era. There’s a bit of the disco beat in their version, which seems incongruous. I like them otherwise πŸ™‚

    • February 18, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      Oh, and, just ignore Eric. Monday is a melancholy day … sometimes we just need to revel in it πŸ˜‰

      • February 18, 2014 at 9:54 pm

        Ha ha. Well, I always thought so, but maybe Eric is just one chipper fellow come Monday morning. Hard to imagine, but it could be true πŸ™‚ Maybe I’ll keep Monday’s melancholy and throw out the occasional speed metal Sunday to placate Eric πŸ˜‰

      • February 19, 2014 at 4:56 am

        There you go! Monday is always melancholy for me, even if by some strange chance I have the day off πŸ˜‰

    • February 18, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      I saw Donnie Darko (strange flick, but I did like it) and didn’t think too much of Mad World. I only really took notice when Adam did it on AI. I can’t get used to that disco flavor they gave the song …. Makes no sense to me.

  10. February 18, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    I have to agree with you, Dave. The Adam Lambert version of the song struck me as much more emotional than the original, but while they are both great versions, the remake just sticks with you after you hear it.

    • February 18, 2014 at 9:59 pm

      All right, Megan. Great to see someone else agrees with me! Adam really did an amazing job with the song.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s