ME AND PAULA

Back when I worked on Dick Clark’s radio show, “Countdown America,” I usually interviewed whatever new artists the record companies asked me to. After all, you never knew who would have a hit and by the time they did, they might be too busy to spend time doing interviews.

Which is why in the late summer of 1988, I found myself going to interview a new singer named Paula Abdul. Unlike most of my interviews for Dick, this one didn’t take place in a conference room at the offices of a record company, but at Paula’s sister’s house. No publicist, no assistant, no entourage, just Paula. I didn’t know much about Paula at the time (she had just put out her first single, the catchy “Knocked Out”), but I immediately liked her when I met her. At the time, she seemed shy, soft spoken and was of course very pretty. After we finished the interview, she showed me a tape of a video she had just completed for a new song called “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me.” I was very impressed by the video, but found it hard to believe that the sweet, reserved girl beside me was the sexy siren on the TV screen.

Unfortunately, neither “Knocked Out” or “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me” became a hit, but Paula’s third try at the brass ring did the trick. The dance intensive video for “Straight Up” turned Paula into a star. And after a few more hits, “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me” was re-released and made it all the way to # 3, so in the end, I wasn’t the only one who got to see the video.

The next time I saw Paula was three years later at her concert at the Fabulous Forum, where she had once reigned as a Laker Girl. She put on one of the most enjoyable concerts I’ve ever seen. I always say the night I saw Neil Diamond at the Greek Theater was the best concert I ever saw, because Neil did something special with each song, whether it was a string quartet rising up from under the stage for one song or using a laser show to illustrate another. Well, Paula did the same thing, turning each song into an imaginative production number. She did much more than just recreating her videos (although it was great fun seeing her dance with MC Skat Cat!).

By that time, she had released her second album, “Spellbound,” which I thought was full of great songs and took her way beyond just being a dance act. She had two number ones with “Rush Rush” and “The Promise Of A New Day,” but then her career stalled. I think her downturn started when she wore an unflattering outfit for her performance at the 1992 MTV Video Awards, followed by the release of an uninspired third album, “Head Over Heels,” but maybe it was just her time in the pop music spotlight was over. Paula soon became more famous for a series of broken romances and marriages, at least until her resurrection as a judge on “American Idol.” Needless to say, I’m looking forward to her performance on the Super Bowl Pre-Game Show. Hopefully we’ll see the triumphant return of a great entertainer!

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One Response to “ME AND PAULA”

  1. Trudy Says:

    It’s amazing all the cool experiences you’ve had! I was disappointed that Paula didn’t sing live at the Superbowl… Sigh.

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