People in their mid-20s might know Paula Abdul as Simon Cowell’s sidekick judge on the American Idol TV series from 2002 to 2009. But, if you are a bit older, you’ll already know that Abdul was a major Pop star in the late 1980s and early 1990s. And that’s how she made her name. Sexy, sassy, and full of Soul are great ways to describe her personality and image.
The Top 50 Paula Abdul songs are a catchy mix of Pop vibes and love ballads that are fun and fan-friendly. She might not win any prizes for songwriting, but some of her songs are still being played over thirty years later. Let’s take a look at some of her best tracks so you get a better idea of why she was so popular on the US music charts.
Top 50 Paula Abdul Songs
Blowing Kisses in the Wind
“Blowing Kisses in the Wind” is a very sincere love ballad that is heartfelt and sensual. This might have only just made the best Paula Abdul songs list, but it was always one of my favorites. Originally, it was released in October 1991 and was the third single from her second studio album, Spellbound. It reached #6 on the US Hot 100 Billboard Charts and also did very well in Canada.
The lyrics are about Paula pinning her hope on her love for a certain man and hoping he has the same feelings about her. It’s a very emotional song that can be enjoyed and related to by both men and women alike. At the time, Paula was more known for her infectious and up-tempo Pop songs. So, this ballad showed another side of the songstress.
The Promise of a New Day
By 1991, the Pop Music world was changing and moving more towards love ballads and modern R&B. “The Promise of a New Day” was another single from her Spellbound album. Abdul’s popularity was very large at this time. But, this track still clung to the 1980s like denim dungarees. It’s a very optimistic song about good quality relationships and even touches on future generations and their lives.
Paula might not be the strongest vocalist, but this track played into her vocal style and delivery. She sings much of the track in lower tones, but that was a good thing. To be fair, at the time, this song sounded a bit different from other Pop songs. And that helped in terms of chart positions and sales.
My Love is For Real
“My Love is For Real” is one of her later tracks that was released in May 1995 from her Head Over Heels album. The cool mid-tempo Pop beat had a modern Hip-Hop instrumental style feel.
The subject is all about Paula telling her love interest that her love is real in the most realistic manner. Middle-Eastern flavors permeate the song, giving it a unique feel long before others started using these types of instruments or samples in American Pop Music.
It made the Top 30 of the Hot 100 Billboard charts in the US and also did well in Canada, Australia, Hungary, and the Netherlands. She sang in a very deep pitch throughout the track, which at the time was quite a risk for Abdul. But, it paid off.
Forever Your Girl
Paula Abdul’s look always reminded me of Janet Jackson around that time. And that is no more evident than in this music video. “Forever Your Girl” was recorded in 1987 but was released in February 1989 on Virgin Records. It was a single from her debut studio album of the same name.
“Forever Your Girl” was a massive hit for the songstress. Even spending a couple of weeks at the top of the Hot 100 Billboard Charts in the US. This is the song that helped catapult her to fame.
At the time, she hadn’t quite hit most European charts. But it did reach #17 in West Germany and #9 in Finland, while also topping the charts in Canada. It’s a romantic song against the backdrop of an up-tempo 1980s Pop beat that’s infectious and contagious.
(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me
(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me gets a prime place on this Top 50 Paula Abdul songs list for all the right reasons. It was one of her first-ever singles and was released in August 1988 from her debut studio album, Forever Your Girl.
The song was received well by fans and critics alike and ended up reaching #3 on the Hot 100 Billboard Charts in the US. Because this was such an early single in her career, she had yet to crack any other countries outside of the US and Canada.
At the time, Paula was competing with some female Pop music giants like Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Janet Jackson. To be fair, she did a great job. Especially considering she wasn’t as gifted as Houston in the vocal stakes or as raunchy as Madge or Jackson. Abdul’s vocals on this track are understated, and she stays in her mid-level vocal range, which was pretty smart at the time.
Although she was known more for her fun Pop tracks, her R&B style tracks are often overlooked. “Rush, Rush” is a sweet and sensual love ballad that was in heavy rotation. It was released in April 1991 from her second studio album, Spellbound, and it did impressive numbers in sales and chart positioning.
“Rush, Rush” was a massive hit the world over and even hit #1 on the US Hot 100 Billboard Charts. It made the Top 10 in numerous European countries, made #2 on the Australian charts, and the top spot on the Canadian charts. The track still gets played every night all over the world on love song radio shows and stations. And it is one of the most popular Paula Abdul songs ever.
“Knocked Out” is perhaps the most Abdul-esque 1980s instrumental of any track she ever made. It was released in May 1988 and was the lead single from her debut studio album, Forever Your Girl.
Because it was Paula Abdul’s first single, not many people knew who she was at the time. This is probably the reason why it didn’t chart so great or get much mainstream exposure. However, it did put her on the map in regards to getting her name out there.
The cool modern R&B vibes gave the song a sensuality. And the New Jack Swing flavor that was all the rage at the time is all over the track. As her introduction to the world, I feel this had to be prominently placed on my top-10 list. If you’ve ever listened to Sheena Easton before, this song is very reminiscent of her vibes and sound.
I know you have been waiting for this track. “Opposites Attract” could well be the most famous Paula Abdul song of all time. It might also be the catchiest Pop song of all time, in my opinion. Initially, it was released in American markets in November 1989 off her debut studio album. This fun song is about how people who are very different from each other attract, like polar opposites.
The song took her global popularity to unprecedented levels and is the most important Paula Abdul song ever. Not only did it reach #1 on the US Hot 100 Billboard Charts, but it also reached the top spot in the Australian and Canadian charts.
Furthermore, it was a Top 10 hit in the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Norway. The official video used some animation elements that made it even more popular. Check it out on YouTube if you get a chance.
“Cold Hearted” is like a Pop Music anthem from the late 1980s. It was a massive hit from her first studio album and was released as a single in June 1989. The electronic-style instrumental is a glimpse into how the music industry was changing at the time.
It made the top spot on the US Hot Billboard Charts and also in Canada. The infectious and up-tempo beat was made for dancing. And that’s just what fans did.
The subject matter was about a woman who is giving her man a warning to treat her better and to have more emotional empathy. Men get seriously bashed in this track. So, it was essentially geared toward her female fanbase. But it still sounds great after all these years.
Last but not least, “Straight Up” had to be at the top of this list. The song was released in November 1989 from her first album and is still played on 1980s radio strains over 30 years later. In my opinion, the global popularity of this track is almost the same as Opposites Attract. The up-tempo New Jack Swing flavor, which went on to become modern-day R&B, is what makes the vibe so special.
It was a gargantuan hit and was Paula Abdul’s first #1 on the US Hot 100 Billboard Charts. It even reached the top spot on the Canadian charts and #3 on the UK charts, as well as the Top 10 in most music charts in the English-speaking world and vast swathes of Europe. If you want someone to listen to the ultimate Paula Abdul song, this is the one.
Rush Rush (1991)
The Way That You Love Me (1989)
Will You Marry Me? (1991)
Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow (2008)
Crazy Cool (1992)
State of Attraction (1989)
One or the Other (1988)
Bend Time Back Around (1995)
Next to You (1992)
Goodnight, My Love (1990)
Forever Your Girl (1988)
Will You Marry Me? (1989)
Crazy Cool (1995)
Next to You (1991)
Alright Tonight (1995)
Love Don’t Come Easy (1988)
Goodnight, My Love (1991)
The Way That You Want Me (1989)
My First Night Without You (1989)
Ain’t Never Gonna Give You Up (1995)
Will You Dance With Me? (1989)
Crazy Love (1988)
If I Were Your Girl (1991)
Didn’t I Say I Love You (1991)
Dream Medley (1991)
Knocked Out (Pettibone 12″ Remix) (1989)
Forever Your Girl (Frankie Foncett Mix) (1989)
Opposites Attract (1990)
Cold Hearted (Quiverin’ 12″) (1989)
Straight Up (Ultimix Mix) (1988)
The Promise of a New Day (West Coast 12″ Mix) (1991)
Blowing Kisses in the Wind (Romance Dub Mix) (1991)
Vibeology (Hurley’s House Mix) (1992)
My Love Is for Real (E-Smoove’s Fever Mix) (1995)
Rush Rush (Dub Mix) (1991)
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Top 50 Paula Abdul Songs – Final Thoughts
When you break it all down, Paula Abdul was a massive-selling musical artist. Her sales numbers blow many of her contemporaries out of the park. She might have only released three studio albums, but they garnered massive commercial success.
Paula has sold over a gargantuan 53 million albums throughout her career. She also had lots of success doing the choreography for several motion pictures. And this list of Paula Abdul’s Top 50 songs shows that less is more. It’s more about quality than quantity, and Abdul’s brief recording career is a testament to that.
Her first album, Forever Your Girl, sold an astounding 18 million copies worldwide. It was also one of the biggest-selling albums from 1988 to 1989. These days, she might be better known as a TV personality. But don’t let that divert you away from her amazingly successful music career.
Until next time, happy listening.