Madness featured image

Learn English madly with Madness

It is true that British people have some truly mad habits. Let me try and help you learn English madly with Madness. You are probably wondering what that means, so let me show you:

  1. Who were the band Madness?
  2. Learn English madly with Madness

Who were Madness?

Madness were a British band from North London. They were a multi-member group, who also used session musicians in some of their songs. Most of their music was a mixture of pop music and ska. Ska originally came from Jamaica and was played Jamaican artists such as Price Buster and Duke Reid. These artists later had an influence on British bands in the 1970s and 1980s.

Madness took their name from Price Buster’s song ‘Madness’. It has been said that the lead singers of Madness: Chris Foreman (Chrissy Boy) and Graham ‘Suggs’ McPherson’ loved Prince Buster’s music a lot and named themselves after their favourite track ‘Madness’. Madness were known for their extravagant music videos and sometimes very dangerous stunts. Nevertheless, Madness were not just band of jokes. They also had four UK top 10 singles, numerous other top 20 UK hits and one American hit.

Let’s now look a bit at some of Madness’s music.

Learn English madly with Madness pin

Princes of madness

Their first hit was the top 20 UK hit ‘The Prince’ a homage to Prince Buster, the bands’ favourite musician.

Did you understand the lyrics in this song? If not, it’s not a problem. Here is a quick guide to improve your English listening skills in six steps

This song would be typical of Madness’s music. The lead singer Suggs is using his North London accent and not really singing. In actual fact, we could say he’s almost rapping the words around the music. We can also see another feature of their style in this song: the funny costumes and the almost annoying antics of Suggs and Chrissy Boy (in the black hat).

Baggy Trousers

This song is probably the best description of your time at school. Suggs and Chrissy Boy wrote this song, saying they wanted to remind themselves of their school days.

Here we have some completely strange stunts, which I wouldn’t recommend you trying at home. We also have the same style that we saw in Madness’s earlier track of ‘The Prince’. Suggs is yet again almost speaking the words with his North London. There are still hints of ska in the song with the rhythm, but by now the band had decided to turn their eye to pop music.

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House of Fun

Yes, as I said at the beginning, British people have some truly mad habits. Let’s have a look at the following song, which in my opinion is probably the maddest, yet most British all of Madness’s songs: House of Fun. With the help of this song, you can learn English madly with Madness.

This song is probably the most outrageous of all Madness’s songs. Do you know why? Let me tell you. Suggs, playing a 16 year old, walks into a shop. Being 16 and rather unsure of himself, Suggs wants to buy condoms. He says to the shopkeeper, “Sixteen today, and up for fun, I’m a big boy now, Or so they say, so if you’ll serve, I’ll be on my way”. He continues in the second verse by saying that he’s ‘up-to-date’ and ‘the date’s today’. Here we have Suggs eluding to the fact that he knows he’s not wrong about the fact he can have sex and also he knows that his date is today. This is a mischievous play on words.

The final verse has the shopkeeper telling us that the 16 year old needs to look elsewhere for his ‘party gimmicks’ (party toys), because he’s walked into a chemist shop. The shopkeeper is rather displeased that the teenager thinks he’ll be able to buy such abstract things like ‘box of balloons’ and a ‘pack of party poppers that go pop in the night’.

Learn English madly with Madness

The song ‘House of Fun’ gives you as English learners a lot of things that can help you learn English madly with Madness. This is because British people like to use euphemisms as well as double meanings of words and phrases. Have a look at the lyrics and I’ll tell you how.

Sixteen today

In the UK, people are allowed to have consensual sex from the age of sixteen. Suggs also uses ‘to come of age’ – a phrase we say when we are 16 years old and allowed to do certain things – like have sex.

I’m a big boy now

This has a double meaning. If someone is a big boy, then they are considered to be a certain age. But in slang ‘big boy’ refers to the male sex organ. If people say, you’re a big boy, it can elude to the male sex organ.

Box with balloons with a feather-light touch

It’s not obvious why, but Suggs uses many of these sort of euphemisms to talk about condoms. The box of balloons could refer to balloons for the birthday party, but then he uses the phrase ‘feather-light touch’, which is a reference to a certain brand of condom. This is a colloquial and slang way of talking about condoms, that you should not use with people you don’t know. During the song, Suggs also raises his eyebrows when he says, trying to give us a message of his uncertainty.

Welcome to the lion’s den

In the chorus, Suggs says, ‘Welcome to the lion’s den, temptation’s on its way’. A ‘lion’s den’ is somewhere, which is intimidating and unpleasant. As we can imagine, a 16 year old might find the idea of sex incredibly intimidating and hard to talk about. The temptation Suggs talks about is that he wants to have sex, but at the same time it’s too scary to think about.

Party hat, simple enough clear

A very colloquial and slang way of calling a condom is a party hat. Here we have another example of how British people use colloquialism to elude to something that they might feel is uncomfortable to talk about.


As we can see there is plenty to start helping you learn English madly with Madness. Just in one song, we have four examples of British humour and double meanings. In the other songs, as well, you’ll be able to find other things that will help you learn English madly with Madness.

It’s now time…

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