Tears for Fears makes movies, even if 'Idol' doesn't call

Curt Smith of Tears for Fears says he would be a good replacement for "American Idol" judge Steven Tyler, who was "out of his tree half of the season. I think I saw him napping at times."

But Smith knows he doesn't stand a chance of snaring an "Idol" judgeship, because his life isn't a train wreck. (TV executives don't hire people who seem grounded, calm or sane, anymore.)

Smith jokes he'd have to be "half-crazy" for "Idol" to take a look at him.

"You have to be overtly nasty, or you've got to have some serious drama in your life - drug issues, or babies out of wedlock, anything that's newsworthy."

Smith's band performs Saturday at Sunset Station. Tears for Fears has picked up a slew of young fans in the past decade, thanks to Tears songs being featured prominently in films, TV and commercials.

Most notable, the climax of the 2001 drama "Donnie Darko" (my favorite film of the 2000s) features Tears song "Mad World," as covered by musician Gary Jules.

Jules' faithful version of Tears' sad-bastard ballad was so popular, it shot up to No. 1 on U.K. radio charts on Christmas 2003.

But another Tears song is also in "Donnie Darko." The megahit "Head Over Heals" spins during a magnificent sequence in a high school (starting with an upside-down bus and ending with a brilliantly satirical dancing-girl squad named Sparkle Motion).

Jules' "Mad World" is beautiful. But the cinematography of the "Head Over Heals" scene is more extraordinary and classic. Smith agrees with me on this point.

"The 'Head Over Heels' bit in 'Donnie Darko' is actually - I think, as far as film goes - more impressive," Smith says. "But 'Mad World' was the song that took off."

("Mad World" took off because people are overly familiar with "Head Over Heels." By contrast, "Mad World" seemed fresh in 2001 because it wasn't overplayed after Tears released it in 1982.)

Jules' "Mad World" was later used as the theme song in the most unforgettable video game commercial ever, for 2006's "Gears of War."

Then in 2009, Adam Lambert sang "Mad World" on, of course, "American Idol."

So between "Donnie Darko," "Gears of War" and "Idol," Tears has picked up a collection of younger fans discovering the band for the first time.

"In Brazil, our audience there was between 20 and 30 years old," Smith says. "It was a second generation of an audience, which is very interesting and gratifying."

Now, Tears For Fears is back on tour with hits including "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," "Shout" and "Sowing the Seeds of Love."

"We haven't played since last October, so we're very excited about playing again," Smith says. "You're not going to get a world-weary band, that's for sure."

Smith and singer Roland Orzabal - who have known each other since they were 13 in Bath, England - get along fine after all these years, he says.

"That's because we're not on the road all year long. We're not in each other's pockets. When we're not working, Roland goes back to England and I go back to L.A.

"We don't really see each other. It's a good way to keep a relationship going - just spend as much time apart as possible," he says lightheartedly.

Tears' new American tour is like a warm-up. They're doing just four West Coast shows, then heading to the Philippines, Japan and Korea.

"We don't go away for that long. We go away for three to four weeks at a time, because we both have kids - another trait that won't get me on 'American Idol,' " Smith says.

"And I've been with my wife for 25 years now - that's another trait that won't get me on 'American idol.'" 

Man, he really sounds like he wants to be on "Idol," doesn't he?

Doug Elfman's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.