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40 years ago, Madonna asked “Everybody” to dance, sing, get up and do your thing

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Sire/Warner Bros.

Forty years ago Thursday — October 6 — an unknown artist named Madonna invited us all to hit the dance floor…and four decades later, she’s still doing it.

On October 6, 1982, Madonna released her self-penned debut single, “Everybody.” She’d convinced Mark Kamins, the DJ at New York’s famed nightclub Danceteria, to play it at the club, and when it went over well with the crowd, he agreed to help her get a record deal. She was eventually signed to a three-single deal by Sire Records with an option for a full album.

When “Everybody” was released, the single cover didn’t have a picture of Madonna on it, leading some to believe she was a Black artist; in fact, Sire Records marketed the single as though she was. That misconception was cleared up, however, when Madonna insisted on shooting a video for the song: a low-budget affair filmed at New York’s Paradise Garage. The video was sent to nightclubs across the country, helping the song become a national dance hit.

While “Everybody” didn’t chart on the Billboard Hot 100, it peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play Chart. The song’s success even landed Madonna her first magazine cover: She appeared on the November/December 1982 issue of Dance Music Report. 

Over the years, Madonna has performed “Everybody” on many of her tours, most recently on 2015’s Rebel Heart trek. It’s also included on her Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones remix album.

Madonna scholars would later note that with lyrics like “Everybody come on, dance and sing/Everybody get up and do your thing,” “Everybody” was the template for the Queen of Pop’s future career and message that music, as she’d sing in 2000, “makes the people come together.”

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