Michael Andrews Featuring Gary Jules - Mad World
Christmas is the time for novelty in the music world and cynical record labels cashing in for that illustrious Number One spot. However, there's always an unknown outsider primed to steal the crown at the very last moment.
For 2003, that song is Mad World. Yes, the original was an eighties' classic from the Tears For Fears songbook, but in a bizarre twist of fate this cover version has somehow found itself in the running to take the prize come Christmas time. This version was performed by Gary Jules in collaboration with Donnie Darko film composer Michael Andrew and was placed throughout the 2002 film's soundtrack, in keeping with the postmodern retreat to the eighties decade the film celebrated in such a surreal fashion.
This new version of Mad World is a slower, stripped down acoustic performance that certainly employs a more downbeat mood. Many people have confused Jules' vocal with that of REM's Michael Stipe, which will probably hurt neither through this association. Even Fame Academy's Alex Parks has covered this cover version on her debut album, so the momentum is already propelling the song further and further into the mainstream musical diet.
So there we have it, a soundtrack cover version from a film released last year storming the outside lane for Christmas Number One. Whilst it has no chance of beating The Darkness or those horrid idle-poppers , but it's probably the top song for anyone who thinks they listen to proper, serious music, and haven't heard of Mew.