Mad World

“Mad World” is Tears for Fears third single release and first chart hit, reaching the UK Singles Chart no.3 spot in November 1982. Both “Mad World” and its b-side, “Ideas As Opiates”, is included in the band’s debut LP The Hurting, which was released in 1983. The song eventually became Tears for Fears’ first international hit, reaching the Top 40 in different countries between the years 1982 and 1983.

For SSC Result

After two decades, the song made a popular recovery when composers Michael Andrews and Gary Jules for the soundtrack to the movie Donnie Darko covered it in a much slower, ballad-like style. This version reached no.1 in the UK in December 2003.

“Mad World” was intended to be the B-side for Tears for Fears’ second single “Pale Shelter (You Don’t Give Me Love)”. It was then thought out to be something people would like to hear on the radio and its release was held back, waiting to issue the song as a single in its own right after re-recording it with Chris Hughes, a former drummer with Adam and the Ants.

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”!

– Roland Orzabal

“Mad World” was the first single off the finished album. The intention was to gain attention from it and we’d hopefully build up a little following. We had no idea that it would become a hit. Nor did the record company.

– Curt Smith

Lyrically the song is pretty loose. It throws together a lot of different images to paint a picture without saying anything specific about the world.

– Roland Orzabal

It’s very much a voyeur’s song. It’s looking out at a mad world from the eyes of a teenager.

– Curt Smith

“Mad World” 7″ version is the same mix of the song found on the album The Hurting. The song had only one remix on its original release, the “World Remix” that was featured on the 7″ double single. This mix is quite close to the version in the album, with the most notable difference for having an added echo to the intro and middle sections. A remix later was noted by noted British music producer Afterlife was featured on the 2005 reissue of the Tears for Fears greatest hits collection Tears Roll Down (Greatest Hits 82-92).

For SSC Result

The promotional clip for “Mad World”, filmed in late summer 1982, was Tears for Fears’ first music video. It shows a dismal looking Curt Smith looking out a window, while Roland Orzabal performs a out of the ordinary dance outside on a lakeside jetty. Clive Richardson who was notable for his work at that time with Depeche Mode directed the clip.

Chart Positions:


#3 UK Singles Chart

#6 Irish Singles Chart

#12 Australian Singles Chart


#2 South African Singles Chart

#10 Swiss Singles Chart

#21 German Singles Chart

#25 New Zealand Singles Chart

For SSC Result

Tears For Fears -Mad World

About Paige