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Paula Abdul

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In the wake of Madonna's success, many dance-pop divas filled the charts, but out of them all, Paula Abdul was the only one who sustained a career. The former L.A. Lakers cheerleader and choreographer scored her first hit in 1989, when "Straight Up" shot to Billboard's number one spot, becoming the first of four U.S. chart-toppers from her 1988 debut, Forever Your Girl; the others were "Forever Your Girl," "Cold Hearted," and "Opposites Attract," each earning a gold certification from the RIAA. This success laid the groundwork for her second act as a judge on American Idol, the televised singing competition that began in 2002 and kept Abdul in the spotlight throughout the decade. Abdul began to make inroads in pop music when she was hired as an assistant dance director on the Jacksons' Victory tour, which led to a job choreographing Janet Jackson's videos for Control. Abdul's work on Jackson's videos helped make the album a hit, making her a sought-after choreographer. After working on The Tracy Ullman Show and videos for ZZ Top, Duran Duran, and the Pointer Sisters, Abdul began a recording career, releasing her debut album, Forever Your Girl, in 1988. The first two singles drawn from the record -- "Knocked Out" and "The Way That You Love Me" -- didn't crack the Top 40, but the release of "Straight Up" at the end of the year made her a superstar. Staying at the top of the charts for three weeks, "Straight Up" began a string of six number one singles (with "The Way That You Love Me" re-charting at number three in 1989) that ran through the summer of 1991. The last two of those singles, "Rush Rush" and "The Promise of a New Day," both came from her second album, Spellbound (a remix collection called Shut Up and Dance bridged the gap between the two albums in 1990). Released in the summer of 1991, Spellbound wound up going triple platinum and it racked up three additional hits: "Blowing Kisses in the Wind," which peaked at number six, "Vibeology," and "Will You Marry Me?" After a three-year hiatus, Abdul released her third album, Head Over Heels, in the summer of 1995. Although it wound up going gold, its only Top 40 hit was "My Love Is for Real," and Abdul quietly retreated from singing, working in television and film; notably, she choreographed the cheerleading sequences in Sam Mendes' Acadamy Award-winning 1999 film, American Beauty. Abdul returned to music in 2000 as the co-author of "Spinning Around," a hit for Kylie Minogue. Debuting at the top of the charts in Australia and the U.K., the single effectively relaunched Minogue's career. Abdul returned to the spotlight in 2002, when she became one of the three judges on American Idol. Cast as the voice of positivity next to the sour Simon Cowell and straight shooter Randy Jackson, Abdul's popularity surged. Apart from a hits collection called Greatest Hits: Straight Up!, an appearance on the Randy Jackson single "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow" in 2008, and her 2009 solo single "I'm Just Here for the Music," Abdul didn't release a full-length album during this decade. She left American Idol in 2009 but she didn't leave reality TV behind. In 2011, she was a mentor and coach on CBS' show Live to Dance and also reteamed with Cowell for a season of the American version of The X-Factor. Next up was a slot as a judge on an All-Star Dancing with the Stars and, in 2013, she moved over to So You Think You Can Dance, which was the gateway to appearing on the Australian version of that show later that year. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Stations Featuring
Paula Abdul

    Awesome '80s

    Awesome '80s
    6 songs

    Lite Hits

    Lite Hits
    1 song

    '90s Pop

    '90s Pop
    1 song

    Love Songs

    Love Songs
    1 song

    Classic Hits

    2 songs

    Shuffle Hits

    1 song

    Gay Anthems

    1 song

Albums by
Paula Abdul

Top Songs by
Paula Abdul

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Straight Up
  3.   Cold Hearted
  4.   Opposites Attract
  5.   Forever Your Girl
  6.   Rush, Rush
  7.   The Way That You Love Me
  8.   Knocked Out
  9.   The Promise of a New Day
  10.   Blowing Kisses in the Wind
  11.   One Day At A Time
  12.   I'm Just Here For the Music
  13.   Funny How Love Can Be
  14.   Crazy Love
  15.   My Love Is For Real by Ofra Haza
  16.   Go Away Little Girl
  17.   Michelle
  18.   Cast Your Fate To The Wind
  19.   Oh L'Amour
  20.   What Have They Done To My Song Ma
  21.   Where Did Our Love Go
  22.   Dance Like There's No Tomorrow
  23.   Vibeology
  24.   Spellbound
  25.   If I Were Your Girl
  26.   Daydream
  27.   Crazy Cool
  28.   Suddenly You Love Me
  29.   Something Here In My Heart (Keeps A-Tellin' Me No)
  30.   Aria
  31.   Love Is Blue
  32.   So In Love
  33.   Purely By Coincidence
  34.   Sad Sweet Dreamer
  35.   Already Tonight
  36.   Medley Mix (1990)
  37.   Knocked Out (Pettibone 12")
  38.   Cold Hearted (Quiverin' 12")
  39.   Paula & Randy's Introduction
  40.   Star Spangled Banner
  41.   For He's a Jolly Good Fellow
  42.   Auld Lang Syne
  43.   America the Beautiful
  44.   Amazing Grace
  45.   Knocked Out
  46.   Crazy Fool
  47.   Didn't I Say I Love You
  48.   [Untitled Track]
  49.   Good Night, My Love (Pleasant Dreams)
  50.   Megamix Medley
  51.   Oh Sheila
  52.   One or the Other
  53.   Will You Marry Me
  54.   Cry For Me
  55.   Missing You
  56.   Under the Influence
  57.   The Choice Is Yours
  58.   Ain't Never Gonna Give You Up
  59.   Way That You Love Me, The (Houseafire Edit)
  60.   Sexy Thoughts
  61.   My Foolish Heart
  62.   Love Don't Come Easy
  63.   Ben Time Back 'Round
  64.   Female Lessons
  65.   Bend Time Back 'Round
  66.   Bend Time Back Around
  67.   Next to You
  68.   State of Attraction
  69.   Alright Tonight
  70.   Rock House
  71.   Get Your Groove On
  72.   Ho-Down
  73.   Four Lessons: Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced
  74.   To You
  75.   U
  76.   It's All About Feeling Good
  77.   I Never Knew It
  78.   Zip a Dee Doo Dah
  79.   Gary's Introduction
  80.   I Need You
  81.   1990 Medley Mix: Straight Up/Knocked Out/Opposites Attract/Forever Your by Wild Pair
  82.   Straight up - Paula Abdul
  83.   [Untitled Track]
  84.   Ron's Introduction
  85.   Male Lessons
  86.   That Same Old Feeling
  87.   On or the Other
  88.   Ruby Tuesday