The Unequivocal Top 5 Paula Abdul Songs

What can’t Paula Abdul do? The 61-year-old San Fernando-born artist and entertainer rose to popularity in Southern California in the 1980s as a member of the vaunted Laker Girls, those sizzling dancers who wowed NBA crowds during breaks in the Magic Johnson-era Showtime times.

Videos by American Songwriter

Later, Abdul parlayed those efforts into becoming a hit recording artist and choreographer for the stars, earning Grammy nominations and collaborating with the likes of Janet Jackson. But wait, there’s more! She’s also been a TV star and general pop star icon.

[RELATED: Why is Paula Abdul Trending? “Stop Believing What You See on the Internet”]

More recently, though, Abdul has been trending on social media and making headlines for various reasons, from inspiring Ariana Grande’s new single and music video for the track “yes, and?“, and, strangely, for rumors about her passing (she is alive and well!).

But we wanted to take this opportunity to take a look at Abdul’s top 5 songs from throughout her career; those tracks that remain part of the cultural fabric; those songs that made her a star.

1. “Straight Up”

Easily the first song most people think of when it comes to Paula Abdul, this track was released in 1988 on the artist’s debut LP Forever Your Girl. In the following calendar year, the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and in so doing it seemed like lines from the song became part of the cultural vernacular. What was first released as a dance track single became the anthem for many a high school crush over the years. And the music video, featuring tap dance from the performer, remains iconic. On the song, she sings,

Lost in a dream
I don’t know which way to go (oh, let me say)
If you are all that you seem
Then baby, I’m movin’ way too slow

I’ve been a fool before
Wouldn’t like to get my love caught in the slammin’ door
How about some information, please

2. “Rush, Rush”

This track from Abdul’s sophomore LP, Spellbound, released three years after her debut, in 1991, also topped the Billboard Hot 100. Though it was a 1990s song, it showcased many a 1980s vibe. The music video starred heartthrob Keanu Reeves. A slower, percussive ballad, Abdul sings about love and the need to receive it now. She sings,

You’re the whisper of a summer breeze
You’re the kiss that puts my soul at ease
What I’m saying is I’m into you

Here’s my story and the story goes
You give love, you get love
And more than heaven knows

You’re gonna see
I’m gonna run, I’m gonna try
I’m gonna take this love right to ya
All my heart, all the joy
Oh baby, baby please

3. “Opposites Attract”

Another hit from Abdul’s debut 1988 record, Forever Your Girl, this was the final single released from the album, coming out about a year after the actual record dropped, in November of 1989. As the title suggests, the song highlights a couple in love despite being completely different from one another. And who of a certain age doesn’t remember the rapping, animated music video? On the song, Abdul sings,

Baby, it seems we never ever agree
You like the movies and I like TV
I take things serious and you take ’em light
I go to bed early and I party all night
Our friends are sayin’ we ain’t gonna last
‘Cause I move slowly and baby, I’m fast
I like it quiet and I love to shout
But when we get together, it just all works ou
t

4. “Cold Hearted”

It seemed like in the late 1980s, Abdul couldn’t release a song without it becoming a No. 1 hit. From her 1988 debut, this track from the artist was bolstered by the sexy-industrial video from the singer and performer. Another love song, this track was focused on power dynamics. Maintain your strength, she says, don’t fall for his tricks. Abdul sings,

He’s a cold-hearted snake
Look into his eyes, uh-oh
He’s been tellin’ lies
He’s a lover boy at play
He don’t play by the rules, uh-oh
Girl, don’t play the fool, no

You’re the one givin’ up the love
Anytime he needs it
But you turn your back, and then he’s off and runnin’ with the crowd
You’re the one to sacrifice
Anything to please him
Do you really think he thinks about you when he’s out?

5. “Forever Your Girl”

The title track for Abdul’s debut in 1988, this song is an ’80s dance song if there ever was. It was also a No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit. An entry to her listener, Abdul promises that if we are hers, she is ours. On the head-bobbing song, she assures us. Wants to support us. But at the same time, we give our heart and devotion to her. Seems like a fair trade, don’t it? On the song, Abdul sings,

Hey baby, you gotta remember
I’m forever your girl
Baby, forever, and ever and ever
You know I love you

Baby, pick your head up (head up)
Come on and look me in the face
‘Cause I can tell that something is bringing you down
(Why are you down?)

Is it the rumor that another boy wants to take your place?
(I hear he’s after your heart)
Have you been hearing the stories? They’re going around
(All of my friends are talking)

Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Nashville Music Events You Won’t Want to Miss For January 12-15

Tony Trischka press photo

Watch Billy Strings Join Tony Trischka for “Brown’s Ferry Blues” the Lead Single from ‘Earl Jam: A Tribute to Earl Scruggs’