memories of the ’80s – Straight Up by Paula Abdul

StraightUp.jpgHer debut album and her third single combined to push Paula Abdul into the spotlight with the song Straight Up.

At the time Abdul was known as a choreographer and dancer for Janet Jackson, Duran Duran, George Michael and ZZ Top.

But she wanted her own singing spotlight and worked with eight producers including Curtis Williams, Babyface and L.A. Reid. for her debut album.

Signed by Virgin Records, Abdul’s first single Knocked Out was released in May, a month before the release of the album, Forever Your Girl. It was followed by The Way That You Love Me.

Produced and written by Elliott Wolf,  Abdul recorded the song in an apartment bathroom.

Although previous singles did ok with radio and video airplay, it was Straight Up which pushed Abdul into heavy rotation with radio stations, thanks to the initial support from KMEL in San Francisco. As the the radio support spread, Virgin Records rushed to create a music video to release to help market the single and album.

Directed by David Fincher and choreographed by Abdul, the music video was filmed in black and white and features a cameo by comedian Arsenio Hall as well as an appearance by actor Djimon Honsou. The video went on to win four MTV Video Music Awards for Best Female Video, Best Editing, Best Choreography and Best Dance.

Abdul’s debut album hit the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 200, 64 weeks after release, at the time the longest time period to get to the number one spot for an album.

Straight Up hit the number one spot in February 1989 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks and stayed in the top 10 for seven weeks. The song was certified gold in Canada, silver in the United Kingdom and platinum in the United States and made Abdul a pop star, with her next three singles all going to number one.


About Waheeda Harris

A pop culture junkie with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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