But I would settle for being Retroist’s girl…forever! Actually, I’m already committed to someone else, but Paula Abdul would not mind being Retroist’s “forever girl.”
Straight Up Now Tell Me, It’s Gonna Be The Music and Me Forever…
If the years before my dance school days set up my love of music, then my dance school days reinforced and built upon that foundation. While my heart arguably belongs to the music I listened to in the backseat of my parents’ cars in the mid-1980s, my dancer heart craves the early-1990s dance music that was made for stretches, warm-ups, and across the floor exercises.
My early 1990s dance life revolved around Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston music, and spandex (so much spandex!). By the mid-1990s (and well into the end of first part of my “dance career” in 2001) it was Jock Jams, MTV Party to Go, and any compilation album my dance teachers had. But there was this one album that, despite time and changing music formats and taste, was forever one of my favorite albums in my collection.
Actually, it still is one of my favorite albums of all time, even though I don’t own the means to actually play it anymore (a cassette player).
Of course, I’m referring to Paula Abdul’s 1988 debut album, Forever Your Girl.
Before She Was Spellbound…
There was a time when Paula Abdul was all about the dance, and not about the music. You know, kinda like when Jennifer Lopez was all about the dance, and not about the acting, the singing, or the dating of Ben Affleck. The worst choice she probably made pre-acting was probably bright spandex, which is never as bad as Gigli. But I digress, we’re not discussing Jennifer Lopez. We’re discussing Paula Abdul.
Tangents. Catch the inevitable!
Anyway, Paula Abdul was all about the dance at one time – a choreographer, a Laker Girl, the Laker Girls head choreographer, the Jackson family’s choreographer, and she even choreograped this…
Uploaded by Movieclips
Betcha didn’t know that!
Paula’s 1980s life was all about the dance, and because she was so talented with that, the next step in the natural progression of pro dancer life is to give the voice a workout. It works for some, but not for others. But for Paula Abdul, it worked.
As did this gem from a previous Flashback Friday on my blog…
Uploaded by Allison Venezio
Just for the taste of it!
Forever Your Girl, Just Waiting on the Charts…
Paula Abdul’s debut album, Forever Your Girl, was released by Virgin on June 13, 1988, and had the distinction of sitting on the Billboard 200 album charts for 64 weeks before finally charting at number one. It eventually went Platinum seven times in the United States, had six singles released (four of them hit #1) from it, and sold 12 million copies worldwide. It was even reported that the album sold 191,000 copies in one day.
Meanwhile, I’m excited when three people read one of my massive recaps in a day.
The slow start meant nothing to its overall success, but it wasn’t until “Straight Up” was released in November 1988, and became the album’s breakout hit. Now that’s something the first two singles (“Knocked Out” was released pre-album on May 3, 1988 and charted at #41, with “The Way That You Love Me” released on August 2, 1988 and charting at #3) couldn’t master. This began the #1 hit cycle – “Forever Your Girl,” “Cold Hearted,” and “Opposites Attract” all debuted in the distinguished spot, with “Opposites Attract” being responsible for the album re-entering the #1 spot for nine weeks, beginning on February 3, 1990.
In all, there are ten tracks on the album, and with six released and charting successfully, it is safe to say this album was a success.
What This Girl Forever Loves…
I got this album (as a cassette tape!) as a Christmas present from my aunt and two cousins when I was ten. My one cousin (I’m two days older than her) was also a dancer in the early-mid 1990s, and she also enjoyed music like this. I’d like to think maybe she picked this out for me, but I am eternally grateful for the gift that firmly cemented my love for dance-style music.
Or is that a curse on anyone who has to listen to it with me?
I have no idea.
My (far and away) favorite song from this album was “Forever Your Girl.” It is the one song from this album I’ve consistently listened to over the years. It has that unmistakable late 1980s-early 1990s sound, but that doesn’t matter. It is dance-ready, you can sing along (guilty on both), and the music video…
Uploaded by Paula Abdul VEVO
I never minded the album version, but it is the music video version that I prefer.
I was familiar with “Cold Hearted” because of my dance recital from 1992 (it wasn’t my class’s song), and even then, I liked the intensity behind the song. “Straight Up,” of course, was one of those music videos and songs I knew long before I knew the album existed. And I only recently came back around to “The Way that You Love Me,” found during a You Tube search for Paula Abdul’s Diet Coke ad (I uploaded the one in the “ice mansion”). It is even better than I remembered.
As for the other songs on the album, I remember liking “State of Attraction” and “One or the Other,” but it is the core six releases that win my vote.
And then there’s…
MC Skat Kat Attacks!
Ah yes, MC Skat Kat. Who doesn’t remember this guy…feline…guy feline? GUYLINE! Yes, “guyline!”
MC Skat Kat was actually The Wild Pair, a duo whose real names are Bruce DeShazer and Marv Gunn, and they provided the backing vocals on “Forever Your Girl” and “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me.” However, in “Opposites Attract,” they were credited as MC Skat Kat.
The inspiration for MC Skat Kat came out of Gene Kelly’s dancing interactions with Jerry the Mouse in the movie Anchors Aweigh. The original incarnation of MC Skat Kat was a costumed character for small gigs. He then became an animated character thanks to Disney and Warner Bros. animators working outside their respective studios between major projects. The animation was done under the direction of animator and film director Chris Bailey, who had worked for both Disney and Don Bluth.
He also worked on Starchaser: The Legend of Orin. *Shudder* That should give you an idea on how not everything for the 1980s is built on win and lasting influence. I could also tell you about rip offs, but I’ll be nice.
Aside from his appearance in the music video, Kat had an album, The Adventures of MC Skat Kat and the Stray Mob.
That, my friends, was a flop, and in 1992, the Kat’s time in the limelight were over.
He’ll always have his moment with Paula Abdul…and the references to her in his songs.
And I’ll always have that time a karaoke participant sang “Opposites Attract” at the Stargate Convention in 2015…and my moment where I yelled out “Bring on MC Skat Kat!” Because, you know, everyone is familiar with esoteric, flash-in-the-pan rapping cats.
We Come Together…
What more can I say about this album that I haven’t already said, aside from how much I love this album. Sure, there’s dance music, but nothing quite works for me the way the dance music of my young dance school days did…and still does.
I know Paula Abdul became a punchline, and her music a relic of its time, but this album will forever be one of my favorites.
As for my feelings on MC Skat Kat…see the karaoke story above.