If you haven’t heard this record by now, then you’re either deaf or dead. Or both. Not since Bryan Sodding Adams has there been a track from a popular film that has both captured the entire nation’s imagination and also enjoyed wide appreciation from all ages of regular radiowhores and rednecks.
In contrast to the aforementioned lipless, pointless, moose-and-Di-fucker though, Gary Jules delivers ‘Mad World’ with grace and understated musicality that, despite sounding exactly like Michael Stipe circa 1994, is up there with the most beautifully emotive and heartbiting, softshanking vocal performances.
Actually, Jules’ stroke of luck – and ours – is that film composer Michael Andrews is a masterful, striking arranger. Taking, of course, Tears For Fears’ 1983 student-synth slice of introspection as a template, the dulled piano figure is subtly joined by the legato, solemn cello and everso slight vocal reverb. It all makes for an instantly-involving, everyman-ermine what the fuck is it all about three-minute tenderfoot empassioned plea for understanding.
And that’s why so many people have bought into it. That and a massive marketing budget for Donnie Darko. And don’t forget the usual undignified scrabbling for the defiled and demeaned UK Christmas Number One. And yadda, yadda, yadda, all the other bullshit that surrounds a record that in reality is an intense masterclass in intelligence, performance and expression.
This is one of the most important singles of the year, and despite the scrawny talons of the hype around it crushing the world's ears, it's incredible. Essential listening, in truth, for any fuckhead who decides they can write songs because they get a guitar for Christmas, or have cool hair, or sharp cheekbones, or sweet crotchtrix, or three-chord, coked-up dickthrob dreams.
Andrews’ magnificent arrangement encapsulates the original track’s confused resignation and enhances it to its logical ethereal fullness without once resorting to obvious, depressingly hamfisted chart/chord-trickery. And, Lord, sweet lord, wannabes and nevergonnabes all over the world would do well to listen, and learn.
But they won’t. They’ll continue running in scumscrabbling circles of indescribable averageness. Cause it really is a Mad World, and it's mostly sad, and only occasionally funny.