Much like our ‘Retro Rewind’ and ‘From the Vault’ segments, readers of That Grape Juice know what avid music lovers we are – especially of hits past. So in a quest to re-spin the gems and jams of yesterday we introduced a new retrospective segment – ‘TGJ Replay’.
Unlike its ‘Rewind’ and ‘Vault’ predecessors, ‘Replay’ looks to dust off and showcase albums (and eras) from a library of pop music hits. Our queue today sees award-winning, triple threat entertainer Paula Abdul and her hit debut album ‘Forever Your Girl’ up for replay:
Before Grammy, Emmy, and American Music Award winning diva Paula Abdul dominated charts with her high-octane brand of infectious pop, the former L.A. Laker girl made her biggest splash behind the scenes as choreographer to some of the 80s biggest movies, commercials, and up-and-coming stars (like The Jackson Family ‘Victory’ tour and youngest member Janet Jackson).
Janet Jackson & Paula Abdul rehearse for music video ‘When I Think Of You’:
But, what few knew was the pint-sized dance machine was using each experience to build her own musical resume – crafting a plot to one day choreograph numbers from her own pop offerings. That time came in June 1988 with her debut album ‘Forever Your Girl’.
Led by the Babyface/L.A. Reid penned ‘Knocked Out’, the album wasn’t exactly the knockout success Abdul was hoping for – originally making very little noise on charts (nor did its follow-up ‘The Way That You Love Me’).
‘The Way That You Love Me’ (Version 1)
However, the third release from the album ‘Straight Up’ proved to be Abdul’s true catalyst to stardom. Rocketing straight up charts on the wings of its glossy black-and-white video and awe-inspiring choreography…
It proved so successful, the singer’s two debut singles were re-released and saw greater success their second-go-round. After 64 weeks of stalling on charts, the album finally landed at #1 on Billboard 200 (with subsequent high placements on R&B charts as well).
While Madonna and Janet Jackson were indeed making their historic stamps on charts simultaneously, it appears Abdul was music’s new it girl. For, on the strength of ‘Straight Up’, the album would later spawn three more #1 singles – placing Paula in history books for landing 4 #1 singles from her debut album.
The release of then-groundbreaking single ‘Opposites Attract’ propelled the album back to #1 (a third time) for a consecutive 9-week stay.
The year’s award season was dominated by the pint-sized pop princess – racking up nods and wins at the Grammys, American Music Awards, Emmys, Soul Train Awards, and of course, the MTV Video Music Awards…
1989 MTV VMA (‘Forever Your Girl’ Medley)
Her chart reign signaled what many believed to be the beginning of a long and promising career – rivaling that of fellow pop divas Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Janet Jackson. Time, due to a number of circumstances, would prove otherwise…leaving Abdul often unmentioned when reflecting on the hey-day of the integration of video into pop music.
But, we know better. It is because of Abdul revolutionizing the game on the choreography tip that many of her contemporaries stepped their game up. Yes, while abundantly clear her talents did not lie in her vocal performances, the ‘Straight Up’ singer had an undeniable star quality and performance value that is often unfound in today’s top performances.
To that we ode the diva who made tap dance cool and effortlessly blurred the lines between R&B and pop (while keeping her clothes on).
To close things out, the performance That Grape Juice voted as the best AMA performance of all time – Paula Abdul’s ‘The Way That You Love Me’ (1990):