MADNESS – ‘Embarrassment’ (from every Madness Greatest Hits album)
Two-tone is a defining moment for English pop, for the obvious reason spelt out in the label‚Äôs very name. White pop music, meet black pop music. The result is still, over two decades on, occasional dancefloor heaven and often brilliant pop. Madness put out one single on 2-Tone (the straightahead-ska Prince Buster tribute ‘The Prince’) and then leapfrogged into a Top 40 residency which lasted several years. They were much catchier than most of their peers, which lost them a certain amount of hardcore respect, and their likeable silly streak (their riotous videos are hands-down the best of any pre-MTV band) obscured – though it shouldn’t have – their remorseless way with a groove.

But Madness had a problem – that same remorselenessness, and their jolly-bootboy look, was attracting a bad crowd, skinhead NF supporters who saw the band as a way to get all the beat they wanted and none of the roots. What to do? Write a breakneck 180-second single about interracial marriage and the bigotry that ensues! Sadly ‘Embarrassment’, a character-song, wasn’t obvious enough to shake off the undesirables: after the fact, though, it stands as one of Madness’ hardest-pumping, cleverest and greatest tunes.