Madness released “Our House” on November 12, 1982. The song reached #5 on the U.K. Singles Chart and peaked at #7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in early 1983. The song won an Ivor Novello award at the 1983 ceremony, which is an award given by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA).
In the United States, Madness is often considered a one-hit wonder, even though they had already scored 12 Top 20 singles and four Top 10 albums in the U.K. between 1979 and 1982. However, after the success of “Our House,” Geffen Records released their 1981 single “It Must Be Love,” which reached #33 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Our House” was included on Madness’ The Rise & Fall album in the rest of the world, but Geffen Records opted to released a compilation, Madness, which included the hits from their albums One Step Beyond …, 7, The Rise & Fall, and their two stand-alone singles.
While the rest of the world received an extended version of “Our House” on the 12″ single, North American record-buyers were treated to a special remix by New York D.J. Mark Kamins, best known for producing Madonna’s first single, “Everybody,” as well as work with David Byrne, Karen Finley, the Beastie Boys, Sinéad O’Connor, and UB40.
In 2002 a stage musical, Our House, premiered in London’s West End that featured the songs of Madness.
Our House 3’30
Our House [Special Mix — Extended Version] 5’58
Our House [Special Remix — Extended Dance Version] 5’02
Our House [Stretch Mix] 3’45
The music video for “Our House” shows the band playing their instruments while Suggs sings, interspersed with scenes of the them dressed as various family members mucking about. The band said they took their inspiration for the comic bits of the video from The Flintstones and Benny Hill and the Keystone Kops.
“Our House” was all-over Top 40 radio and on the various music video T.V. shows in Dallas/Fort Worth back in early 1983. The song was catchy and the strings really enhanced the melody, resulting in it bouncing around the inside of your head even after it had faded out. The lyrics stood out to me, because they told a story. I really liked that. The music video, like many by British bands at that time, used a lot of imagery from 1950s England. “Bad Boys” by Wham! stands out in my mind.
I’d forgotten about Madness until I ran across their Divine Madness compilation CD in an import store in Dallas. I bought it and was surprised to discover that their earlier work sounded more ska than pop. I liked it, though, and began to explore similar bands, like the Specials.
What are your memories of “Our House” by Madness?