#TBT: Paula Abdul Hits No.1 with ‘Straight Up’


Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” is easily one of the most memorable songs from the famous pop star. It’s infectious beat, electronic sounds and catchy lyrics are quintessential ’80s pop, launching Abdul into superstardom and becoming a defining song of the era.

Abdul’s classic pop song hit the No.1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 on this day in 1989, so we’re taking a little time to remember the sweet track and what really makes it so memorable.

“Straight Up” was the third single off of Paula Abdul’s debut album, Forever Your Girl, and the hit that made her a music star. Previously, Abdul worked full-time as a choreographer, working on her music during late-night recording sessions. Abdul snagged the song from her mother’s friend’s boyfriend, who happened to be an aspiring songwriter. The performer’s studio team originally hated the song, but Abdul was able to persuade them to record the track by agreeing to record two more songs of their choice. She recorded the song for just $3,000 — a small price considering its massive success.

The song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the week of December 3, 1988 at the No. 79 position, but quickly rose to hit No. 1 on February 11, 1989. “Straight Up” did particularly well considering it didn’t have a music video until mid-January 1989, when Abdul teamed with director David Fincher (prior to his Hollywood career!) to shoot a video. Naturally, Abdul choreographed the piece herself, opening the video with a tap-dancing solo and busting out a slew of killer moves along the way. Comedian Arsenio Hall lent some star power to the video with a cameo appearance, which also includes actor Djimon Honsou before he became a star. Looking back, it’s the video that makes this song truly memorable, with its black-and-white photography and awesome display of dancing cementing Paula Abdul as a music star.

What’s your favorite Paula Abdul song? Does “Straight Up” deserve it’s status as a pop classic? Let us know in the comments below.