This is a lot easier than yesterday’s challenge. I still can’t think of a song that makes me feel guilty.
The earliest song that I can remember hearing as a child and really liking was “Our House” by Madness. To the best of my knowledge, my family didn’t own this song on vinyl or 8-track or cassette.
Special note to any readers under age 25: vinyl and 8-track tapes and cassettes were physical media that used to be quite popular for distributing recordings of music. Once upon a time, music couldn’t be downloaded; people were actually expected to suffer the indignity of putting on pants, going to the mall, and buying a copy of an album. It was a very quaint era. Ask your parents about it some time!
Anyway, back to “Our House”. I don’t remember exactly where I heard this song, but it must have been a radio single at the time, probably around 1983. In retrospect, it’s no surprise that this song resonated with me. The melody is more infectious than influenza, the ska-pop beat is unusual, and the subject matter and accents are charmingly British. The way the song changes keys from time to time also gives it a really clever sense of circular, perpetual motion.
The Allmusic Guide (www.allmusic.com) for Madness Presents The Rise & Fall makes a good argument for how this Madness album tidily fits into a continuum of records like The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society (1968) and Blur’s Parklife (1994). I completely agree; all of these albums present vignettes of work-a-day British life via upbeat, strongly melodic songs. I think Kaiser Chiefs might be making the modern day equivalent to these albums. The Motown disco horns on “Our House” are even more colourful than early 1980’s wallpaper, and the vocal melodies and counter-melodies are sublime. A lot of musical trends have come and gone in the interim, but this song still sounds like a hit almost three decades later.