Three different songs; celebrating community in sort of different ways.
The Jacksons’ “Everybody” is buried at the end of side one on Triumph, their first album since Michael exploded with Off The Wall. It’s the song that sounds most like a Michael solo track, specifically Off The Wall’s “Get On The Floor” (which closes side one of that album). The two songs even share lyrics, and Michael acknowledged the similarities in his memoir. Somewhat lazy copying aside, “Everybody” is still a smokin’ track. Michael was feeling himself something fierce around this time, he wasn’t half-assing a thing. His vocal is breathy and playful but still insistent. I love the lift into his falsetto as he approaches each chorus. While “Get On The Floor” had a more four-on-the-floor funk groove, “Everybody” is lighter. Michael compared it to a glass elevator rising up to the top floor, and that’s a great analogy.
A different song called “Everybody” introduced Madonna to the world. Well, actually, it didn’t introduce Madonna to the world because it wasn’t a hit outside of dance clubs and the New York area (where Madge was a big fucking deal from jump street). It espouses an ethos that she would come back to repeatedly throughout her career: be yourself, let yourself go, have fun. And while later songs like “Express Yourself” get bogged down in too much subtext (not to mention production), “Everybody” is still refreshing, effervescent. “Dance and sing/get up and do your thing!”-it’s impossible to resist.
Anthony Hamilton’s “Everybody” appears on Ain’t Nobody Worryin’, the excellent follow-up to his breakthrough album, Comin’ From Where I’m From. It comes after the excellent “Pass Me Over”, a gospel tune that’s the album’s emotional high point. While Hamilton’s music fits squarely into R&B, “Everybody” is sung over a lilting reggae groove that more than slightly recalls Bob Marley & The Wailers’ “One Love”. If “Pass Me Over” (which I will talk about more later) is the equivalent of being dunked in a baptismal pool, “Everybody” feels like a cleansing shower. Sure, Hamilton references Scripture on this song (specifically Psalm 30’s line “weeping may endure for one night, but joy cometh in the morning”), but the overall message is “everyone needs love”, so even heathens like me can enjoy the music.