January 08, 1983
The 12" single cover of "Everybody"
Single by Madonna
From the album Madonna
Released: October 6, 1982
Format: 12", 7"
Recorded: Summer 1982; New York City
Labels: Sire · Warner Bros.
Producer: Mark Kamins
"Everybody" is a song by American singer-songwriter Madonna from her self-titled debut album. It was released on October 6, 1982 by Sire Records as her debut single. Madonna had recorded a demo of the song with Steve Bray. She urged DJ Mark Kamins, who played at her dance club, to play it. He was impressed by the song and took her to Sire Records, who signed her for a two-song deal. However, after the recording of the two singles was over, Sire executive Michael Rosenblatt was not impressed with the production of the other song and decided to release only "Everybody".
By incorporating R&B infused beats in the music and not including her image on the cover artwork, marketing for the song gave the impression of Madonna as a black artist. That impression did not last long as Madonna would later convince Sire executives to shoot a music video for the song. The low-budget video directed by Ed Steinberg showed Madonna and her friends in a club singing and dancing to the song. The video helped to further promote the song and Madonna as an artist.
Critically, the song did not receive any acclaim and failed to enter the official Billboard Hot 100 chart. It did, however, appear on the dance charts. The song helped Madonna to achieve her first appearance in a dance magazine. She has performed the song live a number of times. It was first performed during The Virgin Tour and as the final song of The Girlie Show World Tour and was also one of the songs performed by her at the 2006 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The song was included in a remixed form on Madonna's 1987 remix album, You Can Dance, and on the deluxe edition of her 2009 compilation album, Celebration.
Background and release
In 1982, the 24 year old Madonna was living in New York and trying to set up her music career. She was joined by her boyfriend from Detroit, Steve Bray, who became the drummer of her band, The Breakfast Club, which generally played hard-rock music. After that, however, they abandoned playing songs in the hard-rock genre and got signed by a music management company called Gotham Records with the plan of pursuing a new musical direction. They decided to pursue the funk genre but the record company was not happy with their musical abilities, hence they were dropped, and Madonna and Bray left the band. Meanwhile, Madonna had written and developed some songs on her own. She carried rough tapes of three of the songs, namely "Everybody", "Ain't No Big Deal" and "Burning Up". At that time, she frequented the Danceteria nightclub in New York. It was there that Madonna convinced the DJ Mark Kamins to play "Everybody" for the crowd, and the song received a positive reaction. Kamins offered to get Madonna a record deal with the understanding that he would produce the single. He took her to his boss, Chris Blackwell, who owned Island Records, but he declined to sign Madonna. This rejection led Madonna to Sire Records in 1982. Michael Rosenblatt, who worked at the artists and repertoire department of Sire, commented that,
"Madonna is great. She will do anything to be a star, and that's exactly what I look for in an artist: total co-operation... With Madonna, I knew I had someone hot and co-operative, so I planned to build her career with singles, rather than just put an album right away and run the risk of disaster."
Rosenblatt offered Madonna $5,000 in advance plus $1,000 in royalties for each song she wrote. Madonna was ultimately signed for two 12 inch singles by the President of Sire, Seymour Stein, who was impressed by her singing, after listening to "Everybody" at a hospital in Lenox Hill where he was admitted. The 12 inch version of "Everybody" was produced by Mark Kamins at Bob Blank's Blank Tapes Studio in NYC. Kamins was romantically involved with Madonna at that time. He took over the production work from Steve Bray. The new recording ran 5:56 on one side and 9:23 for the dub version on the flipside. Madonna and Kamins had to record the single at their own cost. Arthur Baker, friend of Mark Kamins, guided him through the role of a music producer and provided him with studio musician Fred Zarr who performed his keyboard wizardry on the track. Zarr became one of the common musical threads on the album by eventually performing on every track. Due to the restrained budget, the recording was a hefty affair as Madonna could not understand Kamins' directions and Kamins himself faced problems directing. Hence the A-side "Ain't No Big Deal" did not become as successful as everyone expected. Rosenblatt wanted to release "Everybody" with "Ain't No Big Deal" on the other side, but later changed his mind and put "Everybody" on both sides of the vinyl record after hearing the recorded version of "Ain't No Big Deal". The single was commercially released in October 1982.
"Everybody" starts with a heavily synthesized and spoken introduction with Madonna taking a loud intake of breath. Madonna displayed her bubblegum pop voice in the song, which was doubletracked. The song is written in the key of A minor with the melody of the song beginning in G and rising to the second scale degree on the syllable 'bo' of 'everybody', thus highlighting the chorus which follows in the chord progression of G–A–B–A. "Everybody" incorporated R&B infused beats. Sire Records marketed the soulful nature of the dance song for the black audience and Madonna was promoted as an African-American artist, thereby fitting the record into a radio playlist where the song might chart. In New York, the song was played on 92 KTU which had an African-American audience. For the cover of the single, Sire Records portrayed a hip-hop collage of downtown New York, rather than a portrait shot of Madonna, further perpetuating the notion that Madonna was African-American.
The 12-inch single of "Everybody" failed to break into the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. It peaked at seven on Billboard's Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart on December 25, 1982. However the song moved quickly up the dance charts, and was Madonna's first single to chart on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play Chart, peaking at number three. One of the first radio stations to embrace the song was WKTU, which reported it as a new "Playlist Top Add On" in the December 11, 1982, issue of Billboard, reflecting their station's playlist for the week ending November 30, 1982. Since its release, the single has sold around 250,000 copies. The song helped Madonna achieve a first magazine cover photograph. In the December issue of Dance Music Report magazine, Madonna and another band Jekyll and Hyde were nominated for awards in the sales category of a reader's poll. It was Madonna's picture that appeared on the cover.
Sire Records had marketed the "Everybody" single as if Madonna was a black artist. This misconception was cleared by the release of the music video for the song. Regarding the importance of shooting a music video for the song, Madonna commented that, "If I didn't have a video, I don't think all the kids in the Midwest would know about me. It takes the place of touring. Everybody sees them everywhere. That really has a lot to do with the success of my album." She invited Sire Records executives, including Stein and Rosenblatt, to the New York nightclub Danceteria. She performed "Everybody" on the dancefloor, wearing a top hat and tails. On the night of the performance, Madonna's friend Haoui Montaug introduced her to the 300 strong audience. Cheered by them, Madonna and her dancers performed their choreographed dance moves, later described as a 'disco act backed by avant-garde dancers.' Seeing the performance, they also realised that Madonna appeared visually stunning. They ordered an in-house video of "Everybody" to be sent to the clubs around the country which used dance videos.
Rosenblatt contacted Ed Steinberg, who ran the Rock America video company and asked him if he could spare a few hours to make a music video for "Everybody" with Madonna on stage at her next performance in Danceteria. The idea was to play the video as promotion across the United States so that people will come to recognize an image of Madonna and her performance. Rosenblatt offered Steinberg $1,000 for the in-house production video, when artists like Duran Duran and Michael Jackson were spending six figure sums on videos. They finally agreed on $1,500. With the low-budget, the video was directed by Steinberg. Steinberg suggested shooting the video on location at the Paradise Garage, a downtown gay disco, instead of filming a live performance. Madonna's friend Debi Mazar did the makeup and joined her other backup dancers, namely Erika Belle and Bags Rilez. Mazar brought a few of her friends to act as a disco crowd in the video, including African-American graffiti artist Michael Stewart. Steinberg was impressed by Madonna's professionalism on the set and he helped to send copies of the tape to nightclubs across America which used dance music videos for their entertainment. This promotion helped the song to grow from being a dance hit in New York to a nationwide hit.
The video starts with Madonna and her two backup dancers dancing in a club while lights blink in the background. The shots continue while interspersing close-up shots of Madonna dancing while wearing a coat and junk jewelry. Author Douglas Kellner in his book Media Culture: Cultural Studies, Identity, and Politics Between the Modern and the Postmodern noted that already with her first video, Madonna was deploying fashion, sexuality and the construction of an individual image to present herself both as an alluring sex object and as a transgressor of established norms. The band Fab Five Freddy reminisce that with the video Madonna "is attracting those who were more street, more savvy, more flavorful." (Wiki)
Track listing and formats
US 12" single
1."Everybody" – 6:00
2."Everybody" (Dub Version) – 9:23
US 7" Vinyl single
1."Everybody" – 3:58
2."Everybody" (Instrumental) – 4:13
UK 12" single
1."Everybody" (Remix) – 6:16
2."Everybody" (Dub Version) – 5:59
UK 7" single
1."Everybody" (Remix Edit)– 3:20
2."Everybody" (Dub Version) – 4:40
Germany 5" CD single
1."Everybody (Album Version)" – 4:55
2."Everybody (Dub Version)" – 8:58
FRA / ITA 12" Maxi Single
1."Everybody" – 5:56
2."Everybody" (Instrumental) – 9:23
Germany / UK CD Maxi Single
1."Everybody" – 6:00
2."Everybody" (Dub Version) – 9:23
Notes: UK 7" and 12" versions included a remix by Rusty Egan and Steve Short at Trident Studios Reduction Suite, which was only ever released in the UK.
Credits and personnel
Madonna – vocals, writer
Mark Kamins – producer
Butch Jones – synthesizer
Reggie Lucas – guitars, drum programming
Fred Zarr – synthesizer, electric and acoustic piano
Dean Gant – electric and acoustic piano
Bobby Malach – tenor saxophone
Ed Walsh – synthesizer
Gwen Guthrie – background vocals
Brenda White – background vocals
Chrissy Faith – background vocals
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles: Peak position 7
US Hot Dance Music/Club Play: Peak position 3