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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

    Classic Hits

    Classic Hits
    2 songs

    Lite Hits

    Lite Hits
    1 song

    '90s Pop

    '90s Pop
    1 song

    Love Songs

    1 song

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