Everyone today knows her as that harmless (or is she?) judge from ‘American Idol’, but 78 weeks before we even realized that there was a person called Mariah Carey, Paula Abdul became America’s pop sweetheart and a potential threat to then pop juggernaut Madonna. In fact, Paula was one of those who first dared defy the then peerless Madonna and succeeded! Choreographer-turned-singer Paula Abdul recorded 4 albums in the 90s and managed to achieve 6 #1 singles, thanks to her lively pop tunes, amazing choreography and eye-catching videos that rivaled the then Queen of Pop’s work. Remember these songs?
1. Straight Up [11-25 February 1989] – A catchy song with an infectious beat and a nice cheaply-made black and white video with Arsenio Hall slowly but surely crept its way to the top of the charts. Everyone was surprised, but everyone agreed that this talented dancer with very limited vocal abilities really has IT. A star was born.
2. Forever Your Girl [20-27 May 1989] – Second time lucky and shrugging the so-called sophomore jinx, Abdul proved that she was not a one-hit wonder. I think this is one of the early pop songs to feature guest rappers (in this case The Wild Pair, who will later appear in another Abdul #1). The video featured kids dressed and acting like adults – some of them even mimicked those mannequin-like girl band in Robert Palmer’s videos. Cute.
3. Cold Hearted [2 September 1989] – Sexy and beautiful melody about a two-timing lover. It has a very unforgettable raunchy video. Alas, they added a fantastic rap verse to it in its radio version – perhaps an early omen to the approaching reign of hip-hop.
4. Opposites Attract [10-24 February 1990] – Again with the rappers The Wild Pair. This is one of those cases where the video became an even bigger hit than the song. Who can forget that now-primitive looking animation of dancing cats?
5. Rush Rush [15 June-13 July 1991] – Lead-off track from her second CD, and a surprise #1 hit for Paula. Accused of lip-synching, Paula did a ballad (albeit a labored one) and it paid off. The video for it was also a hit – a recreation of “Rebel Without A Cause” with then-rising star Keanu Reeves as James Dean and Paula as Natalie Wood.
6. The Promise Of A New Day [14 September 1991] – Written by Prince, the video for this bouncy single carried an ecological message. The promise never got fulfilled for Paula though. She married and divorce a has-been, suffered personal crises, and ended up as a judge on a very popular TV show. Plans have been going on forever for a comeback CD – but that’s where it’s obviously headed for: plans! Besides, it would be very, VERY difficult for anyone – much more to someone like Paula – to break through nowadays. If ever she succeeds, that would be an even bigger miracle than the Mariah comeback. Of course, that’s just a thought.