Straight Up - Paula Abdul

Straight Up – Paula Abdul | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#1 for 3 weeks), R&B (#2 for 2 weeks); 1989

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

Even before her current “job” on American Idol, Paula Abdul’s entertainment biz resume was impressive. Her initial career choice of sportscaster was put on the backburner when, while attending Cal State Northridge, the Los Angeles Lakers chose her for their cheerleading squad. Before the season was out, she became the troupe’s choreographer. Then, the Jacksons asked her to work with them on a video, quickly followed by Janet Jackson’s request for similar assistance. Paula’s career in video choreography skyrocketed, ultimately leading to a recording opportunity. Her first single, Knocked Out, broke into the R&B Top 10, as did its follow-up, (It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me. As Love Me entered the pop chart, a San Francisco radio station started spinning Straight Up from the album. Her label wisely threw its promotional efforts behind Straight Up, and Paula gained her first Pop and Dance Music #1.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

 Produced by:

  • Elliot Wolff

Lyrics Written by:

  • Elliot Wolff


  • Won four awards at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Female Video, Best Editing, Best Choreography, and the first-ever Best Dance Video
  • Nominated for a Soul Train Award in 1990 for Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Song of the Year.