Mad World is such a powerful song.
You're probably more familiar with the Gary Jules or REM version of this song.
Mad World was originally released by Tears for Fears in 1983, the introduction gives us an idea of a constant rhythm (much like Jimmy Fallon starts off his dressing room sessions with The Roots with the synthesiser beat bank) although the synthesiser block chords in the verses, coupled with the space-like harmonic overtones before the signature 80s beats makes the song texturally very interesting - the musical interludes are busy with the horn section's countermelody with the keyboard keeping time, especially when the rhythm kicks in.
The change in rhythmic feel in the chorus is unexpected but welcome. A welcome relief from what exactly, I don't know, because the off-beat syncopation in the chorus seems to represent the off-beat phases of the lives we lead. But what I do know is that the juxtaposition of such sad lyrics with such a peppy tempo is deceptive, almost jarring. To me this symbolises the struggles that we face with trying to come to grips with outer appearances and inner angst (or I could just be overanalysing but hey I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad).
But no 80s song is complete without the obligatory weird dance sequence before the final couple of choruses, but I think back then we were quite fascinated by losing ourselves in the music (I wouldn't know, I was only 5 when the song was released).
The music video shows the lead vocalist inside the house, seemingly trapped and unwilling to go outside, although the dancer, wrapped up in his own dance sequence outside, at least "puts himself out there" for all to see (a little like the Fool on the Hill - see a previous post).
When the final chorus hits, the image of the dancer is superimposed next to the singer which feels like the singer wants to break out of his house (insanity of his own design) but can't seem to shake it, and then we are left with the final image of the vocalist, now in the dark, still inside his house alone.
Rather than thinking that the dreams about dying are the best, I think about the dying in dreams as a release from confines of a house that the world may put you in. But only if you let them of course.