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Flashback Friday: The Long Soundtrack Shelf Life of “Mad World”


The story of a cover song from 1983 featured in a 2001 cult film that keeps being put into trailers in the 2010’s.

Earlier, I put out a notice to other LGM bloggers asking for song requests for Flashback Friday. Shakezula answered the call and suggested a wonderful song that I had no idea was originally a Tears For Fears track from 1983!

Twenty years after it was originally written, a stripped down cover for a film about disenchanted youth would rage like wildfire on the UK singles charts. Since the movie 2001 Donnie Darko, a fantastic mind-trip for older millennials like me, featured the song on its soundtrack I have heard a number of renditions. Most of them follow the Gary Jules’ style rather than the original T4F. And perhaps unsurprisingly, keep ending up in trailers for other things we are supposed to know are emotional.

The AV Club has a great bit of history from 2013 on just how much the song and film became identified with each other, completely reinventing the song and solidifying the iconicity of the film.


Gary Jules (2002)

Gary Jules created this version for Michael Andrews who was putting together the Donnie Darko soundtrack. You can also check out this fan-made video that features clips from the movie so you can get an idea of how the two mediums worked together to create such an arresting song.

I’m not sure how this is legally possible, but this version also appears on the video game soundtrack for Gears of War and in the 2016 trailer for them film American Pastoral. A trailer for Man In The High Castle also used the song, but sung by Ilana Tarutina.

Puddles & Hailey Reinhart for Postmodern Jukebox (2015)

You have no idea how excited I am to finally introduce you to Puddles, the sad clown with the golden voice. Many YouTube videos of him exist and the man is really really good at not breaking character even as people around him fall over in laughter. I’m also pleased to introduce Hailey Reinhart because of all the PMJ lady singers, her voice is among the most unique.


Besides PMJ, its nearly impossible to find a cover of the song that isn’t just a complete recreation of the Gary Jules/Michael Andrews version. Imagine Dragons adds an interesting guitar bridge.


Do you have any favorite versions? Or a favorite film/video game/TV show where the song has appeared?



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