I love Madness; easily amongst my favourite bands. Madness are very different to everyone else: they’re not really rock, neither soul, nor pop, or rap, or any other major variant in music. They are defined as being a Ska band; not really sure what that means myself, but whatever Ska is; Madness is, and I love Madness.
My interest in Madness sort of came off an appearance by the band at Glastonbury in 2009, and also a mention of the band in the BBC Documentary series; ‘I’m In A Rock ‘n’ Roll Band‘. Before then I don’t really remember much about them other than some of their prominent songs. I got into them though when I was at Teesside University, and used to listen to them in the mornings on my Laptop before I went out to my lessons.
Since receiving a Madness CD on my Birthday in 2013, I have since become a huge fan and enjoy listening to them every now and then, and always enjoy a TV performance. But (you may or may not be wondering) what is my favourite Madness Song? Well, I have chosen my Top 5 Madness songs, and ranked them for your reading (and listening) pleasure. Honourable mentions include Baggy Trousers, Cardiac Arrest, House of Fun, Grey Day, In the City, and Bed and Breakfast Man. It was a hard list to choose my Top 5 out of, and the fifth one was a constant see-saw between it and ‘In The City’, but I am now sure of the ones I have chosen, so please read on for My Top 5 Madness Songs:
5. Embarrassment – I really do like In The City, it’s a fun song which includes some trademark Madness fun in both lyrics and instrumental solo’s. What Embarrassment has over it though is consistency. Madness songs can change key and tune at the drop of a hat, so consistency could be considered pointless, but In The City’s tune changes a little too much and doesn’t keep the fun instrumental parts going long enough as it slows down a little, sort of interrupting the song instead of keeping it going. Embarrassment keeps up it’s consistency and almost restarts halfway through with the same heavy keys again, however it is just more fun for much longer and just keeps going instead of slowing down and near giving up!
4. Mr. Apples – A very recent addition by the band, this song is only a little over two years old. The song while being much more contemporary, is still pretty much classic Madness. It features some real toe tapping keys on the piano, providing a riff that is just so catchy. The lyrics are fun too as they are similar to Cardiac Arrest in that the song provides a background story into someone’s life. It tells an interesting tale written on two opposite sides of a coin, and while maybe a little restricted in tone and tune compared to their earlier works, the rhyming and instrumental sections just draw you in and you want to hear more. It may not be a classic yet, but that doesn’t matter to me, as this song is still pure Madness.
3. One Step Beyond – Possibly their best known song; although I use the term song lightly. Originally it apparently did used to feature lyrics, but these were dropped, as the song was played just too loud to hear them. It doesn’t feature any wording at all except for the famous words of Chas Smash as he introduces the song. It’s the song which probably sums up the band as a whole (and possibly the best one to introduce people to), as the piece is just, well; MAD! It’s loud, it’s heavy, and it’s fast too, featuring the full band at their best along with the lead of the song seemingly taken on by the Saxophone. It’s just good old plain fun, and the video is not bad too.
2. Shut Up – Shut Up is an interesting one (much like most of Madness’s repertoire) as on the one hand it could be considered as sending out a message, whereas on the other hand it could be considered just good old fun. The song (and music video) is crime based, as it tells the tale of a burglar trying to pass off his crime and his hoard while under the watchful eyes of a group of policeman. The song features some pretty fun lyrical verses as well as some brilliant piano playing, and it likes to jump from innocent sounding fun, to the soundtrack of a great movie caper. Altogether it just looks like a good old game of cops and robbers?
1. Night Boat To Cairo – Upon discovering who Madness really were; this was the song they were playing, and continues to be my favourite. It’s much like One Step Beyond as it’s a heavy instrumental piece. It does feature lyrics, but these take up maybe less than half the song. It really captures and presents the atmosphere they are trying to bring across. The lyrics almost try to tell the tale of some doomed voyage in Egypt as the band get stuck along the River Nile. The lyrics are fun and the rhyming works beautifully, but when the song hands the reins over to the instruments, they just go wild, creating that trademark Madness sound. Possibly more than any other song, this one best describes the band. It’s not a band, it’s just Madness!