The 10 best Madness songs ever, ranked

2 July 2022, 15:04

Madness. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Madness were one of the biggest groups of the 1980s.

The ska band from Camden Town scored 14 UK top 10 singles, and released many catchy songs that have stood the test of time.

Here are just a handful to make for your perfect Madness playlist:

  1. 'Grey Day'

    Madness - Grey Day (Official Video)

    'Grey Day' was something of a big departure for Madness, as compared to their early ska sound, it had a much darker and miserable feel.

    The lead single from their third album 7, it was another top 5 hit for the band.

  2. 'Driving in My Car'

    Madness - Driving in My Car (Official Video)

    This classic song about love for a motor was yet another top 20 hit in the UK in 1982.

    Fun fact: The members of fellow ska group Fun Boy Three make a brief appearance in the video.

  3. 'Night Boat to Cairo'

    Madness - Night Boat to Cairo (Official HD Video)

    This quirky track was an early top 10 hit for the band, taken from their debut release One Step Beyond.

    The song is often used by Madness to close out live concerts, and the term "Night Boat" has passed into cockney rhyming slang as a term for a giro, or unemployment benefit cheque.

  4. 'My Girl'

    Madness - My Girl (Official Video)

    This track was taken from Madness' debut album One Step Beyond in 1979.

    It was written by Mike Barson for his then-girlfriend Kerstin Rodgers. Barson wrote a follow-up, 'My Girl 2' in 2012.

  5. 'Never Knew Your Name'

    Madness - Never Knew Your Name (Official Video)

    One of Madness' best songs was taken from their comeback album Oui Oui, Si Si, Ja Ja, Da Da in 2012, proving that they could still write and record catchy pop.

    The song saw Suggs sing about a girl he met at a disco, and his attempts to locate her once again.

  6. 'One Step Beyond'

    Madness - One Step Beyond (Official Video)

    This was originally a B-side for Prince Buster back in 1984, and Madness updated it for new audiences in 1979.

    Chris Smash provided the song's iconic spoken intro: "Hey, don't watch that, watch this..."

  7. 'Baggy Trousers'

    Madness - Baggy Trousers (Official Video)

    Lead singer Suggs co-wrote this ode to schooldays with Chris Foreman.

    He later said: "I was very specifically trying to write a song in the style of Ian Dury, especially the songs he was writing then, which [were] often sort of catalogues of phrases in a constant stream."

  8. 'House of Fun'

    Madness - House of Fun (Official Video)

    This provided Madness' only number one single in the UK in 1982.

    The song is about coming of age, and tell the story of a boy on his 16th birthday trying to buy condoms at a chemist. As the UK age of consent is 16, he says that he is "16 today and up for fun".

    However, the boy is misunderstood by the chemist, as he asks for the condoms using slang phrases, such as "box of balloons with a featherlight touch" and "party hats with the coloured tips".

    The confused chemist tells the boy that the shop is not a joke shop, and directs him towards the 'House of Fun'.

  9. 'Our House'

    Madness - Our House (Official 4K Video)

    This was Madness' biggest hit in the US, reaching number seven in 1982.

    The song provided the title of the official Madness musical, which was a West End hit in 2002.

  10. 'It Must Be Love'

    Madness - It Must Be Love (Official Video)

    Labi Siffre first released this song as a soul ballad in 1971, before Madness released a more famous cover 10 years later.

    One of their most popular songs, this quirky little love song was a number four hit. In a nice touch, Labi Siffre makes a cameo in the music video.