Is it gonna me you and me together, or are you just having fun?
June 13, 2020 3:35 PM   Subscribe

Tap dancing, cartoon cats, strict formation moves, and really catchy tunes. Paula Abdul's debut album Forever Your Girl from June 13, 1988 was a huge juggernaut. A so-called "six-pack" album [YT playlist] for having 6 Top 45 hits, it is perhaps the most successful first album ever so far. Side A: The Way That You Love Me [video], Knocked Out [video, alternate (original) video] , Opposites Attract (with The Wild Pair) [video with MC Scat Cat], State Of Attraction, I Need You posted by hippybear (43 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
 
A classic example of "oh, this will be a quick post" and then it turning into a day-long project.

If you listen to only ONE of the remixes, I recommend the Cold Hearted (Percapella). There's a lot of 80s goodness going on in that giant list, but that one felt really fun to me.
posted by hippybear at 3:36 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


Paula is forever my girl. I hate when people try to write her off as a joke. Here’s a favorite clip of super young Paula Abdul & Janet Jackson working through choreography: 1986 rehearsal clip of Janet Jackson & Paula Addul practicing the choreography and dance moves for Janet's upcoming music video for her first single from the Control album, the song "What Have You Done For Me Lately"
posted by roger ackroyd at 3:52 PM on June 13 [11 favorites]


At my work, I cracked up one or two people by doing the rap prologue to "Opposites Attract" perfectly. I was not dressed like a cat.
posted by WCityMike at 3:58 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


Also, off her Shut Up and Dance follow-up (from which I'm guessing most of the remixes came?): there's the 1990 Medley Mix, which is many of these mixed into each other.
posted by WCityMike at 4:02 PM on June 13


It's fluff, but it's expertly-executed, unbelievably catchy fluff. That's not easy to do!

Random swerve into Bob Fosse for the "Cold Hearted" video was eyebrow-raising for young praemunire.
posted by praemunire at 4:03 PM on June 13 [15 favorites]


All the world's a candy store
He's been trick or treatin'
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:03 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


Also, off her Shut Up and Dance follow-up (from which I'm guessing most of the remixes came?)

These remixes are all b-sides to the singles released for the album. I think Shut Up And Dance includes some of them and has some originals to that collection.
posted by hippybear at 4:06 PM on June 13


This was the first CD I ever owned. I think it was also the first album, unless you count a Fraggle Rock cassette I had.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:19 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


Her recent ad for some arthritis drug is well done, I think? For what it is?
posted by wreckingball at 4:52 PM on June 13


That Straight Up video is so stylish and memorable I watched it every time they showed it.
posted by wittgenstein at 4:56 PM on June 13


Paula Abdul telling the story of Straight Up.
posted by fairmettle at 4:56 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


I loved her dancing back in those days. And you take me back, hippybear—I danced to that music at many a women's dance and at not quite so many gay bars. Ah, youth.
posted by Orlop at 5:20 PM on June 13


I still say "one going up, one coming down" when passing someone on the stairs.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:24 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


Once a friend and I were watching that classic Schwarzenegger film “The Running Man.” I snarked that the cheesy dance segments looked like they were choreographed by Paula Abdul. The credits ran, and lo and behold, they in fact were.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 5:30 PM on June 13 [11 favorites]


I love "Straight Up". I love New Jack Swing. It didn't last nearly as long as it should have.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:55 PM on June 13 [12 favorites]




I love New Jack Swing. It didn't last nearly as long as it should have.

QFMFT. I loved that brief era of music. I've been trying to formulate a bit of a megapost about it for a while, but it's difficult because it was so brief and is sort of elusive in its definition.
posted by hippybear at 6:43 PM on June 13 [12 favorites]


praemunire: Random swerve into Bob Fosse for the "Cold Hearted" video was eyebrow-raising for young praemunire.

Hell yeah. If you want to see the original inspiration, I think it's a pretty direct reference to the "Take Off With Us" number in Fosse's autobiographical "All That Jazz"
posted by rmd1023 at 6:55 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


There weren't very many albums that would qualify, though, were there? This, a Janet Jackson CD....what else?
posted by wenestvedt at 7:25 PM on June 13


For 9 yo me, the Cold Hearted video was one of those, "Am I allowed to watch this?" moments of prepubescence.
posted by thecjm at 7:32 PM on June 13 [9 favorites]


This album and the Aladdin soundtrack were my dance teacher's go to warm up music when I was 10. (Note that Aladdin came out several years later, Paula just has staying power.) I am incapable of dancing half as well as Paula, but I am always going to dance to this.
posted by the primroses were over at 7:42 PM on June 13


Paula had been doing a Vegas residency show. Once all this COVID bullshit is over, I might actually go see that.
posted by hippybear at 7:44 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


This is a day-maker post
posted by Kemma80 at 8:11 PM on June 13


I love New Jack Swing. It didn't last nearly as long as it should have.

QFMFT. I loved that brief era of music. I've been trying to formulate a bit of a megapost about it for a while, but it's difficult because it was so brief and is sort of elusive in its definition.

There weren't very many albums that would qualify, though, were there? This, a Janet Jackson CD....what else?


There's a shit-ton of music that falls into that category. Um... Boys II Men did some, Bobby Brown's My Perogative... I can't come up with a list off the top of my head, but there's a lot. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis did a lot of it, but there were a lot of other producers working in that space for, what? Maybe 2 years?
posted by hippybear at 8:42 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


The wikipedia page is really pretty informative.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:10 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


So, to refocus this thread on Paula...Let's refocus this on Paula. New Jack Swing.. that will be another post. Paula, debut album... like, holy wow, that was a major first album!
posted by hippybear at 9:43 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


This album was the first cassette I bought with my own money. I could barely contain myself as the cashier took it out of its cumbersome plastic security hanger thingy.
posted by armeowda at 10:31 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


I was coming out of my strictly-metal phase, getting into jambands and alternative and starting to explore punk beyond hardcore and into what would eventually be grunge... and I'd just discovered jazz and classical music.

But I had this album, and I could not stop listening to it. I could listen to it between Public Enemy and the Dead Kennedys and not have any cognitive dissonance whatsoever somehow. And I haven't listened to Paula in at least 25 years, but I could probably reproduce 80% of the songs in my head. Which starts as soon as I want to fall asleep tonight.

THANKS AGAIN, METAFILTER.
posted by not_on_display at 12:14 AM on June 14 [8 favorites]


This was the peak of my classic hard rock period. You just have to go through Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix at some point. On that backdrop, I think I got into "Straight Up" from a girlfriend with the cassingle, so when I "went away" to go to junior college by the beach (thanks mom & dad!) I finally got my driver's license and a car (thanks mom & dad!). I got the album on cassette, which I'm pretty sure I still have, and used it to tune my cheap stereo in the parking lot of the student housing complex I lived in. I'm now certain I was annoying to hell, but it was a loud stereo album and I wanted it to sound as good as possible. Like any 20 year old! I'm sure I also still know most of the words.
posted by rhizome at 2:42 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


I can't come up with a list off the top of my head...

Bel Biv DeVoe.


Now you know.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:33 AM on June 14 [11 favorites]


Jam & Lewis were a little bit before New Jack Swing, from a Minneapolis boogie/groove; they were part of Prince's original band, The Time, and did a lot of glisteningly high-tech funk/electro/soul in the 80s (like S.O.S. Band). New Jack Swing proper is usually considered to have started with Teddy Riley, though some L.A. Reid & Babyface productions (think Bobby Brown's first solo album, and a significant part of the American Top 40 around 1989 or so) have a similar energy, combining a soul/funk smoothness, a hint of a streetwise edge, and the sharp digital electronic sounds of the era.

Who did the production for Paula Abdul? I don't think it was any of the above, IIRC. Was it Walter Affanasieff (who also did Whitney Houston's “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and a lot of soul-meets-torch-song tracks, often featuring both acoustic-sample drums and 808 clavés/cowbells, and with a tendency to end up in Disney soundtracks of the era)?
posted by acb at 5:14 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Also, no mention of Paula Abdul's “Forever Your Girl” is complete without a mention of MC Skat Kat & The Stray Mob's 1991 album The Adventures Of..., which ended up at the top of The Onion AV Club's Least Essential Albums Of The 90s list, beating the likes of Billy Idol's Cyberpunk and Rump's Hating Brenda.
posted by acb at 5:20 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


Also, for what it's worth, if you dug the harmonic lushness and late-80s digital timbres of New Jack Swing and the adjacent genres, but wondered what that would be like were it not constrained to the pop-song format, there are a lot of people in the vaporwave genre like Vektroid and 猫 シ Corp. exploring those hypotheticals.
posted by acb at 5:26 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


Who did the production for Paula Abdul? I don't think it was any of the above, IIRC.

This is literally answered in one of the links in the post.
posted by hippybear at 6:23 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


I'm so happy to see this post! I loved this album as a middle schooler and reconnected with it a couple years ago and still love it.

But I was considering it a guilty pleasure, since I find it impossible to actually judge the quality of music I first liked or heard as a kid. As in, is it actually good music or is it just the nostalgia factor?

So now I can stop with the "guilty" and just stick with the "pleasure"!
posted by tentacle at 6:31 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


Wow that Opposites Attract video is bonkers. I did not remember that from my youth!
posted by Salamandrous at 7:28 AM on June 14


New Jack Swing fans might enjoy DJ Shortkut's 'Goin' Uptown' mix. (Also, I'm a big Marley Marl fan, and I was unaware he did a 'Straight Up' remix, so thanks for that.)
posted by box at 8:45 AM on June 14


There's a line in Straight Up that is "I'll just have to say
A-bye, bye, bye, bye, bye, bye, bye, bye, bye"

But it doesn't really sound like that. It 'a buh buh buh buh buh buh' instead.

"So it's I have to say a buh buh buh buh buh buh".
Anytime I can make it work, and it's so useful in so many situations.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:45 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


At my work, I cracked up one or two people by doing the rap prologue to "Opposites Attract" perfectly.

Oh yeah? Well, CJ's doing The Jackal.
posted by Paul Slade at 11:43 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


One of the benefits of being very specifically the MTV Generation (plus being in a small town with one pop/rock station) is that you could be hanging out with your goth and metalhead friends and you all knew every word of the hits on this album and that was cool, just don't like advertise it okay?
posted by Lyn Never at 1:39 PM on June 14 [6 favorites]


I remember being very surprised but excited when I found out that she's Jewish. (As a young Jewish teen in a town without a lot of other Jews, that meant a lot.)
posted by SisterHavana at 4:05 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


It's no ZZ Top Six-Pack but the drum sound is similar.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 6:58 PM on June 14


Chiming in on the New Jack Swing tip: Michael Jackson's 'Dangerous' is probably the most sucessful NJS album of all time.
posted by jordantwodelta at 7:43 PM on June 14


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