Do you remember the 80's? Of course you do. Which, as the saying goes, means you probably were not there.

And if you remember the 80's, either because you were there or through osmosis, you remember Madonna, (probably) the most successful female music artist of all time, whose brash persona, string of radio friendly hits, forays into acting, and political and personal controversy made her omnipresent for a decade.

So everybody should know Madonna's what Madonna's first single was? Well, I didn't, and there is a good chance that you don't either. Madonna's first single, included on her debut album in 1983, but released as a single in 1982, was "Everybody", a 5 minute long dance song. Over fairly standard synthesizer music, Madonna sings exhortations for the titular "everybody" to get up and "dance and sing," and "do your thing". It is a typical dance track that is meant to be background music for the New York City dance scene that Madonna would have been in the middle of.

What is more interesting to me is what the song lacks. Madonna became perhaps the exemplar of a celebrity: a person who was famous for being famous. Her persona became larger than her music, and to this day, the difference between Madonna Ciccone from Bay City Michigan, and Madonna, worldwide icon, is hard to tell. She has been in character for almost forty years. Her music and public persona in the 1980's were noted for two things: a laser like focus on presenting an image, and a focus on the titillating and confessional, in songs such as Material Girl, Papa Don't Preach or Like a Prayer. This song lacks both. The video especially is short on image. Recorded cheaply, it shows Madonna dancing in a dark club, but the camera rarely focuses on her, and when it does, her appearance is not exactly sexually provocative: she is wearing a vest over a flannel shirt. Her dancing is also far from sexy. At one point she holds her hands together like a tyrannosaurus and bobs up and down. The song also has no confessional lyrics, and rather than the singer being a character, they are just narrating the scene around them. The song, after all, is about "Everybody", which is the opposite of the focus inward that would be the hallmark of Madonna's career in the 1980's. In other words, the earliest song by Madonna was not "A Madonna song"

It would be interesting to know how deliberately Madonna shifted away from this type of dance focused music to the pop radio hits she succeeded with in the 1980's. The dance club scene would have been limited to a handful of places in the United States, and the type of music that succeeds in a communal, participatory environment like an urban dance club is not the type of music that a 17 year old girl driving her mom's Toyota Celica to the mall wants to listen to. Madonna's most typical music seems to fit the neon-bright, exurbanized America of the 1980's perfectly, while her earlier music, derived from, and marketed towards, niche New York City subcultures, does not.