After 15 years of sad covers, Mad World gets a happy performance

The 1982 Tears for Fears song “Mad World” is not exactly cheery, lyrics-wise, but production-wise it’s kind of a bop. It’s a fun song, with a catchy beat — yet if you think of “Mad World” you probably think of a dreary little drudgefest of a tune and Patrick Swayze crying alone.

That is thanks to the 2001 film Donnie Darko, which is back in theaters this week for a 15th anniversary 4K re-release (thank goodness!). The famous final scene of Donnie Darko features a sparse, somber cover by Gary Jules and Michael Andrews, which inspired several more sparse, somber covers — by American Idol’s Adam Lambert, Jasmine Thompson (for the trailer for American Pastoral), and recent inexplicable phenomenon Twenty One Pilots, to name a few.

The Jules…

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