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File:Embarrassment (Madness single - cover art).jpg
Song by Madness
from the album Absolutely
ReleasedNovember 14, 1980
GenrePop, Ska
LabelStiff Records
Songwriter(s)Lee Thompson (lyrics)
Mike Barson (music)
Producer(s)Clive Langer
Alan Winstanley
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"Embarrassment" is a song recorded by ska/pop band Madness, predominantly written by Lee Thompson, but partially credited to Mike Barson.[1][2] The band first began performing the song at live shows in April 1980,[3] and it was featured on their second studio album, Absolutely.

The song was released as a single on November 14, 1980, and spent 12 weeks in the UK singles chart and reached a high of number 4.[3] The song was remixed for issue as a single, which is different from the album version, although they both have the same running time.

Lyrical content[]

The meaning behind the song was particularly dark, considering the band's previous material. Primarily written by Lee Thompson, the plot of the song reflected the unfolding turmoil following the news that his teenage sister, Tracy Thompson, had become pregnant and was carrying a black man's child. The subsequent rejection by her family, and the shame felt, was reflected in the song.[4]

As Thompson was on the road with the band, he only heard snippets of the story, through phone calls and letters, but this was enough for him to piece the story together. The song is a clear indication of changing attitudes (see miscegenation). The real-life story had a happy ending, however; Thompson later stated that when the child named "Hayley" was born, the antipathy of Tracy's relatives dissolved.[1]

Music video[]

File:Embarrassment - Screen Capture.jpg
Suggs at the Embassy Club bar.

The music video for the single was filmed in Embassy Club, London, on 7 and 8 November 1980.[3] The music video was particularly dark for Madness, corresponding to the lyrical content of the song. The video mainly features Suggs at a gloomy bar, interspersed with shots of the band playing various brass instruments.


In addition to its single release and appearance on the album Absolutely, "Embarrassment" also appears on the Madness collections Divine Madness (a.k.a. The Heavy Heavy Hits), Complete Madness, It's... Madness, The Business, Our House and the US compilation Ultimate Collection.

Track listing[]

  1. "Embarrassment" (Barson/Thompson) - 3:10
  2. "Crying Shame" (Barson) - 2:36

Chart positions[]

Chart Position
Dutch Singles Chart 2
UK Singles Chart 4



  1. 1.0 1.1 "An embarrassment no more". BBC News. November 24, 2005. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  2. Woodstra, Chris." Absolutely Overview". Retrieved on July 1, 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "The Madness Timeline: 1980". Retrieved on July 1, 2007.
  4. Madness' Embarrassment BBC Magazine
  5. Steffen Hung. "Madness - Embarrassment". Archived from the original on 2011-09-21. Retrieved 2012-02-15. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)

External links[]

  • Template:Discogs master