Sunday, December 21, 2003

“Mad World” hit #1 in the UK

First posted 5/7/2020.

Mad World

Michael Andrews with Gary Jules

Writer(s): Roland Orzabal (see lyrics here)


Released: December 15, 2003


First Charted: December 21, 2003


Peak: 11 AA, 30 MR, 13 UK, 93 CN, 28 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.7 UK, 0.92 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 157.53 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

Tears for Fears broke through in the United States in 1985 with the #1 hits “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Shout” from their album Songs from the Big Chair. Their first album, The Hurting, had little impact on U.S. soil, but was a chart-topper in the UK, propelled by three top-five hits, including “Mad World.”

Roland Orzabal wrote the song “about a depressed young person who feels out of place in this world.” SF Orzabal wanted to write a new wave song like Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film.” It was inspired by Arthur Janov, who wrote The Primal Scream, and his theories. The line “the dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had” comes from the notion that dreams of intense experiences are best at releasing tension. WK Bandmate Curt Smith ended up handling lead vocals because, as he said, “It worked better with my voice because it’s more melancholic, darker.” SF

The song was revived in 2001 for the soundtrack to the film Donnie Darko. The director, Richard Kelly, commissioned television and film composer Michael Andrews to develop the score. Because of the project’s low budget, Andrews recorded all the instruments himself, but wanted vocals on at least one song. He tapped Gary Jules, a childhood friend with whom he’d worked in the Origin and the Greyboy Allstars. WK Tears for Fears was one of their favorite bands so they opted to record a stripped-down version of “Mad World.” Jules said, “I think it’s a really beautiful example of a person struggling with the fact that life is mad.” WK

The “slower and more melodic” SF version was more fitting to the somber lyrics, although some considered the original “upbeat dance tune by Tears for Fears” SF to be deliberately ironic. Jules said, “Every so often a song with just vocals, piano, and cello creeps up on you and says something about who you are, where you’re going which stops you in your tracks.” WK

Donnie Darko was well received by critics, but didn’t do well commercially. However, after its DVD release, it gained a cult following and demand grew for a single release of “Mad World.” It was released in late 2003 and it topped the UK charts. Orzabal said the cover reaching #1 was the proudest moment of his career. SF

The song had yet another comeback in 2020 during the coronavirus epidemic when people found themselves quarantined worldwide. Many musicians turned to in-home, intimate performances to reach out to fans and offer some entertainment and comfort. Curt Smith and his daughter Diva performed “Mad World” in a style more like the Andrews/Jules version and it went viral.


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Saturday, December 13, 2003

OutKast hit #1 with the Song of the Decade, “Hey Ya!”

Last updated 4/6/2020.

Hey Ya!

OutKast

Writer(s): André 3000 (see lyrics here)


Released: September 9, 2003


First Charted: September 19, 2003


Peak: 19 US, 17 RR, 13 A40, 9 RB, 16 MR, 3 UK, 15 CN, 12 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 1.2 UK, 4.46 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.7 radio, 473.6 video, 200.0 streaming

Awards:

Review:

Although obsolete, the Polaroid camera will maintain a place in pop music history, thanks to singer André 3000’s call to “shake it like a Polaroid picture.” That catchphrase and others like the response to “What’s cooler than cool?” with “Ice cold,” made the song iconic. However, it is the song’s rallying call for every demographic to flood the dance floor that makes it, as quoted on Consequence of Sound, “the decade’s ‘Teen Spirit,’ man.” CS As PopEater.com said, “you could see yourself partying to in college just as easily as you could watch your parents sweat to it in spin class.” PE

Like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Hey Ya!” was the moment when a masterful artist “made a record that sounded like everything on the radio and nothing anyone had heard before.” PE “Married to the sound of some mid-’60s dance craze that never was, ‘Hey Ya’ exemplified something very few tunes of the time had; a sense of fun.” PE Its merge of genres suggested “the walls between rock and R&B and hip-hop were about to topple.” PE

The song “featured rap lines fed through a vocoder and re-recorded up to 30 times” NME and engineer Rabeka Tuinei was the lone voice behind the “ladies” cheering halfway through the song. RS500 On top of that, Dre told Rolling Stone that its guitar chords, the first he ever learned, were inspired by the Ramones, the Buzzcocks, the Smiths. RS500

There was also an “equally brilliant paradigm-smashing video” PE aping the Beatles’ appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show Add a clever viral video with A Charlie Brown Christmas footage spliced to match the song, and you’ve got the decade’s signature hit.


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