Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul’s 10 Most Iconic Music Singles

By Waddie G. September 18, 2023

Let’s celebrate the musical discography and legacy of the iconic pop music superstar Paula Abdul.

Paula Abdul, a dancer, singer, and choreographer, rose to fame in the late 1980s and early 1990s with a string of hit singles and music videos. Her unique blend of dance-pop, R&B, and funk sounds won fans worldwide and established her as a pop culture icon of the era. In this article, we will explore the ten most iconic music singles of Paula Abdul’s career, examining their impact on the music industry and their lasting legacy.

With a career spanning several decades, Paula Abdul has established herself as one of the most influential performers of her time. Her music has been celebrated for its infectious beats, creative hooks, and memorable lyrics. Abdul’s dynamic stage presence and innovative choreography have also made her a sought-after performer and collaborator, as she worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Prince, Aretha Franklin, Janet Jackson, and Michael Jackson.

Join us as we take a walk down memory lane and explore the music and career of Paula Abdul. From chart-topping hits to beloved dance classics, we will highlight the ten most iconic music singles of Paula Abdul’s career and examine how they helped to shape the pop music landscape.

In ranking the list of the 10 most iconic music singles recorded by Paula Abdul, the following factors are considered in eligibility and ranking order.

  • A song has to be a defining and iconic tune for the recording artist according to fans, music enthusiasts familiar with the music act, and the talent.
  • Songs that have the most success on music sales, internet streaming, and radio airplay charts, past and present, influence rankings.
  • Songs that have carried popularity into recent years through film, television, commercials, song samples, modern recording covers, karaoke gatherings, pop culture lists, and modern radio and streaming playlists are heavily considered.
  • Songs that can be widely identified through lyrics or instrumentation influence rankings.

Before I share the top 10 list, here are the honorable mentions.

“Will You Marry Me”
“Crazy Cool”
“My Love Is For Real”

Let’s get into my top 10 iconic songs recorded by Paula Abdul.

10. “Vibeology”

Paula Abdul’s “Vibeology” is a true standout among her impressive discography and one of her most beloved songs. Released in 1991 as the third single from her Spellbound album, the track showcases Abdul’s signature upbeat dance-pop sound and impeccable choreography. The song’s catchy hook and infectious energy make it a fan favorite, with its memorable music video featuring colorful costumes, dazzling special effects, and an unforgettable dance break. “Vibeology” is a testament to Abdul’s talent as a musician and a performer. It remains a beloved classic in her catalog, regularly featured on 90s throwback playlists and dancefloors.

9. “Knocked Out”

Paula Abdul’s debut single “Knocked Out” was essential to her rise to fame and a memorable song that propelled her status as a dance-pop diva alongside Janet Jackson, Madonna, and Jody Watley. Released in 1988, the track features an impressive blend of R&B, dance, and pop influences that showcase Abdul’s versatility as an artist. The song’s catchy melody and groovy beats, combined with Abdul’s vocals, made for an irresistible dance track that resonated with fans worldwide. The music video introduced Abdul’s stellar dance skills and choreographed formation with her dancers, later becoming her signature style, making her an instant sensation. “Knocked Out” climbed the R&B charts and marked the beginning of Abdul’s illustrious career as a pop superstar, setting the stage for the numerous hits that would follow.

8. “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow”

Paula Abdul’s “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow” is a true gem in her discography. Released in 2008, the track represents a successful comeback for the pop icon, who had taken an extended hiatus from music and amassed a successful television career. With its catchy beat and infectious lyrics, “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow” perfectly captures the spirit of living in the moment and letting loose on the dance floor. Its nostalgic appeal and upbeat energy make it a fan favorite, with many citing it as a highlight of Abdul’s later career. Its music video choreography highlights her great showmanship as a 20-year pop music veteran and gives fans nostalgia to compare it to “Knocked Out” and “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me.” “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow” proves that even after years away from the spotlight, Paula Abdul never lost her magic touch when crafting unforgettable pop hits.

7. “Forever Your Girl”

Paula Abdul’s “Forever Your Girl” is undoubtedly one of her most beloved tracks, and its impact on pop music cannot be overstated. Originally released in 1988 as the fourth single from her debut album of the same name, “Forever Your Girl” quickly rose to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making Abdul the first female artist in history to achieve this feat with her debut album. The song’s catchy melody, upbeat tempo, and Abdul’s playful dance moves with child star talents made it an instant classic and cemented its place in pop culture history. Did you know that a very young Elijah Wood was one of the child stars in the music video?

6. “The Promise Of A New Day”

Paula Abdul’s “Promise Of A New Day” is a popular and uplifting song that highlights her ability to deliver an optimistic message through her music. Released in 1991, the track has a fantastic beat and catchy lyrics that offer hope for a better tomorrow. The cheerful and upbeat melody perfectly matches its inspirational lyrics, creating a fun and meaningful vibe. The music video features Abdul showcasing her dance moves in an enchanting outdoor setting, reiterating the beauty and promise of a new beginning. “Promise Of A New Day” was a massive hit for Abdul, as it became her sixth #1 American single, establishing her as a goodwill ambassador of positive pop music. The song remains a beloved classic and a testament to Abdul’s influence in the music industry.

5. “Cold Hearted”

Paula Abdul’s “Cold Hearted” song has undoubtedly stood the test of time as one of her most treasured tracks. Released in 1989 as the fifth single from her debut album Forever Your Girl, the song immediately became a hit, shooting up to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart within weeks. With a music video’s iconic choreography that tributed legendary Bob Fosse and writhing moves on and around a scaffolding, “Cold Hearted” truly epitomizes the quintessential pop music video of the late 80s. Its enduring popularity has solidified its place in the era’s cultural zeitgeist, and it remains a fan favorite to this day thanks to its timeless blend of energy and musicality.

4. “Rush Rush”

Paula Abdul’s “Rush Rush” is a timeless classic song that showcases her versatile songwriting skills and daring shift into ballads after a string of dance-pop hits. Released in 1991, the song features a sultry, romantic melody that captivates audiences with its undeniable charm. The soulful and heartfelt lyrics of the track showcase the depth of Abdul’s artistry and commitment to music. Inspired by the movie Rebel Without a Cause, the iconic music video further highlights the song’s intensity, featuring Keanu Reeves in a prominent role. “Rush Rush” was a commercial and critical success, topping charts worldwide, earning Abdul multiple awards, and becoming one of the most covered songs from the 90s. With its unmatched combination of passion, melody, and impeccable production, “Rush Rush” remains an important part of Abdul’s musical persona and a fan favorite.

3. “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me”

Paula Abdul’s “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me” is a fan-favorite and an influential part of her discography. It was released in 1988 and showcases Abdul’s pop vocals as she marvels at the transformative power of love. The upbeat melody and catchy hook make for a memorable pop hit. The song’s music video was groundbreaking for Paula, as a pop star, to incorporate tap dancing into her eye-catching and modern dance choreography. The striking visuals of modern men’s wealth and style and Abdul’s exceptional dance moves make for an unforgettable viewing experience. “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me” climbed to the top 10 in the pop and R&B charts and earned Abdul several award nominations, solidifying her place as a pop icon and cementing the song’s enduring impact.

2. “Opposites Attract” (featuring The Wild Pair)

Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract” features an innovative blend of pop, R&B, and hip-hop. It has stood the test of time, becoming the first pop tune with a featured rapper to top the music charts in America, Australia, and Canada. The catchy melody and memorable chorus created an infectious pop hit that remained popular on radio and other media for years. The song’s unique music video featuring a cartoon cat named MC Skat Kat dancing alongside Abdul broke ground through its use of animation technology using live-action. The duo’s playful chemistry and Abdul’s inner-city flair set a new standard in music videos, leading to the promotion’s recognition at multiple award ceremonies. “Opposites Attract” was a commercial and critical success, earning Abdul numerous accolades and cementing her reputation as a pop icon of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Its long-term cultural impact remains just as impressive, making it a fundamental part of Abdul’s legacy.

1. “Straight Up”

Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” has become a staple in pop music history due to its incredible catchiness and innovative and syncopated production. The song was released in 1988 and quickly became a massive hit, earning Abdul a coveted Grammy Award nomination. The upbeat rhythm combined with Abdul’s dynamic vocals makes for an irresistible pop hit that’s proven to withstand the test of time. The accompanying music video’s unique solo choreography, shot in black-and-white and showcased Abdul’s impressive dance skills, was innovative and helped bolster the song’s cultural impact. “Straight Up” remains a beloved classic and an essential part of Abdul’s musical legacy.

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Written By

Waddie G. is the Founding Editor of The G-Listed. Based in New York City, Waddie G.’s writing shows off his biggest passions for pop and gay cultures. Born in Sacramento, raised in Kansas City, developed in Atlanta, and matured in Chicago, Waddie G. is an unabashed foodie, proud R&B junkie, adventurous traveler, serial scribbler, and textbook Virgo. Waddie G. and his content has been featured on the "Wendy Williams Show," TMZ, Grindr, Vice, I-D, Windy City Times, and The Gothamist.