Mad World was originally written by Roland Orzbal for the British band Tears for Fears, in 1982.
It appeared on the band's debut LP The hurting and became an international hit.
However, the song reached a much higher success two decades later when it was covered by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules for the movie Donnie Darko.
This version was stripped down in a slower, minimalist style.
While the original version featured heavy percussion and synthesizers as a full musical backing, Gary Jules's only used a cello, a set of piano, and modest use of a vocoder on the chorus.
The single's lyrics depict a dark view of the world from a teenager's eyes and intense experiences such as death meant to ease the tension and struggle.
Mad World was influenced by Arthur Janov's Primal Fear and his theories.
The single's B-Side, Ideas as Opiates (1982), takes its name from the concept of primal therapy presented in Arthur Janov's book Prisoners of pain.
The free Mad World piano sheet music was released in 2002 on the movie's soundtrack but because of the success and the cult phenomenon generated by Donnie Darko, it was later issued as a proper single.
In 2003 the song's popularity grew higher and higher and became the Christmas number one single in the UK.
The free Mad World piano sheets were used in the commercial of the videogame Gears of War, in 2006 which led to moving it up the charts.
In addition, Adam Lambert's performance at the eighth season of American Idol raised the sales and people's interest in Mad World.
The single was used intensely in popular culture: in The Glee Project, Helix series, advertisements, and fan-made YouTube videos, television dramas such as Being Human, Brothers&Sisters, Cold Case, CSI, Dead like me, Smallville, The Mentalist, The OC, as a closing number in Butley, on Broadway, in the advertisement for Underground: The Julian Assage story and many others.
Mad World has been recorded by other artists, due to Jules's version success: Nicola Sirkis, Kill Switch...Klick, Evergreen Terace, Alex Parks, Ken Tizzard, Jan Wayne, etc.
The single proved to be a success throughout the decades which can only mean that its value will persist from now on and people's interest in Mad World won't fade anytime soon.