Paula Julie Abdul (born June 19, 1962 in San Fernando, California) is an American dancer, choreographer and singer who began her career as the head cheerleader and choreographer for the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. She started choreographing the live tour for The Jackson Five, and got her big break as the choreographer for the 1980s videos of singer Janet Jackson. In 1988, she released her debut album Forever Your Girl and, after a fairly long time, became a smash hit star. The album spawned five American top five singles (out of just ten songs): '"Forever Your Girl," "Opposites Attract," "Straight Up," "Cold Hearted Snake" and "The Way That You Love Me." A remix album, Shut Up and Dance, was also released.
Her follow up album, Spellbound, is often overlooked in musical history. Abdul made such an impact in late 1980s music that when her second effort was released in the early 1990s, everyone assumed it would be less successful. Instead, it introduced the American top ten hits "Rush, Rush," "Vibeology," "Promise of a New Day," "Will U Marry Me" and "Blowing Kisses in the Wind."
As Abdul's image shifted slowly from "beautiful" to "sexy", gossip began to circulate about her weight. At only 5 ft 2 in (157 cm), Abdul did not have the height commonly associated with dancers/choreographers. In her music video for "Promise of a New Day," camera angles were used to pinch the screen image, and tabloids claimed this was because of Abdul's weight. Then, in an appearance on the MTV Music Video Awards, Abdul did a live performance of "Vibeology" wearing a sequined boustier/swimsuit outfit that revealed she had, indeed, put on weight. This seemed to have a dramatic impact on her popularity.
In 1995 Abdul released her fourth album, Head Over Heels. With modest radio hits in the singles "My Love is For Real" and "Crazy Cool," she showed that she was able to still create popular music while moving with the times. However, her image became much more sexual, and she was seen scantily clad in her music videos, riding a mechanical bull and pouring beer over her t-shirt/breasts. The album did not sell even remotely as well as previous efforts, and it seemed due in great part to her new image. Fans had adored Abdul's dancing, and found her sexuality best expressed through it. Never considered a traditional "beauty," they were put off by this new overt sexuality.
Abdul had never had a real career as an actress, barring an appearance as "Sherri" in a low-budget musical movie from 1981 called Junior High School. In an attempt to revitalize her career as a performer, she began accepting acting roles, starting with the television movie Touched by Evil in 1997. In a genre that is hardly well respected to begin with, her performance (as a rape victim who discovers her boyfriend was her rapist) was massively rejected by both fans and critics. (In particular, fans were disgusted to see their favorite sweetheart-singer discuss performing fellatio on a character only to eject the semen into a film canister as proof of his rape crimes.) Another T.V. movie was made in 1998, The Waiting Game, which was neither panned or praised.
In the year 2000 a greatest hits CD, very originally titled Greatest Hits, was released.
In 2002 Abdul was offered the job of judge on the television contest show American Idol. On this show, her job was to judge the talent of a group of young amateur singers and eventually whittle a group down to just one performer (the "idol" in question). Abdul, who had seemingly emerged from obscurity, won back the hearts of America as the sympathetic and compassionate judge (paired next to co-judge Simon Cowell, who was often cruelly blunt in his appraisal of the contestants' performances). She began to resurface at awards shows, and was even given the job of co-anchor on the television magazine program Entertainment Tonight.
Paula Abdul is most often remembered as a moderately talented singer from the late '80s whose skill as a choreographer and dancer managed to propel her to stardom, making her one of the most successful recording artists of the century.
- Forever Your Girl (1988)
- Shut Up and Dance (1990)
- Spellbound (1992)
- Head Over Heels (1995)
- Paula Abdul: Greatest Hits (2000)
- Has choreographed music videos for The Jackson Five, Janet Jackson, Debbie Gibson, ZZ Top, George Michael and Dolly Parton
- Has choreographed the stage shows for Suzanne Somers and Toni Basil
- Former spouse of actor Emilio Estevez (1992 - 1994)
- Spouse of clothing manufacturer Brad Beckerman (1996, 2002; presently filed for divorce)
- Co-wrote Kylie Minogue's 2000 hit single "Spinning Around"
- Is working on her next album, entitled Paula'ticks of Love
- In the video for "Opposites Attract," appeared with an animated cat named MC Skat Kat who went on to record his own album