A Charming Slice of Dance-Pop

If you’re looking for state-of-the-art late Eighties dance/pop, there are few better places to start than with Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl. When the American Idol judge began her recording career in ’88, she was a Los Angeles Lakers cheerleader who’d also become one of the music’s top choreographers. Paula’s dance clients included  ZZ Top, George Michael and Janet Jackson.  Janet’s influence is seen and heard throughout Abdul’s own releases.  While Abdul is clearly not much of a singer, her fragile chirp had a bit of pluck and made this collection pop in a way that most other vocalists wouldn’t have been able to.

Abdul’s team of writers and producers definitely did one thing right on Forever Your Girl – they didn’t let her near any ballads, although the romantic, airy Next To You comes close. A hottie back then, Paula was given flashy, high energy pop numbers like the L.A./Babyface production Knocked Out and the bubbly Opposites Attract. There’s also a fair amount of tough-girl numbers like the me-or-her One Or The Other and the borderline avant-garde Cold Hearted. Of course, no mention of Abdul’s singing career is complete without a mention of her breakout hit, the muscular, rock-etched Straight Up, which stands up decades later as a fantastic pop number and also introduced a new phrase into the American lexicon.

Be warned:  many of the songs on Forever Your Girl are not the single versions. Forever Your Girl and Cold Hearted were both remixed for radio play, and the version of Opposites Attract, tragically, does not feature the raps from MC Skat Kat. In order to get those versions, you’ll have to locate a copy of Paula’s greatest hits. Nevertheless, Forever Your Girl is a charming slice of dance/pop and is worth having in your collections if you can find it cheap.