Lily Allen – “Mad World” (Tears For Fears Cover)

Tears For Fears’ 1983 hit “Mad World” is one of the few songs from the synthpop era that has completely escaped from its original context. A lot of that has to do with the haunted, stripped-down version of “Mad World” that Gary Jules and Michael Andrews recorded for the Donny Darko soundtrack in 2001. (The Jules/Andrews version hit #1 in the UK, whereas the Tears For Fears original only made it to #3.) But a lot of it also has to do with the uncanny longing of the original. In any case, if you hear any version of “Mad World” today, it comes out sounding more like a folk-music hymn than like an ’80s time capsule.

Lily Allen just did one of those Spotify Singles, where she gives the streaming service live-in-studio versions of one of her own songs and one of someone else’s. The Lily Allen song that she sang was “Family Man,” from this year’s comeback album No Shame. And as the bonus, she took on “Mad World.”

Allen’s version of “Mad World” is closer to the Gary Jules/Michael Andrews one than the Tears For Fears original. For both of her Spotify Singles songs, it’s just her singing over a piano, with some backing vocals. And her version of “Mad World” shows how communicative of a singer she is. Check out the Spotify Single below.

Check out our interview with Lily Allen here.