Straight Up (Paula Abdul song)

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"Straight Up"
Single by Paula Abdul
from the album Forever Your Girl
Released November 22, 1988
Recorded 1988
Length 4:11
Label Virgin
Songwriter(s) Elliot Wolff
Producer(s) Elliot Wolff
Paula Abdul singles chronology
"(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me"
"Straight Up"
"Forever Your Girl"
"(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me"
"Straight Up"
"Forever Your Girl"
Forever Your Girl track listing
"Forever Your Girl"
"Straight Up"
"Next to You"

"Straight Up" is a song recorded by American singer Paula Abdul, which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and brought her widespread public attention. It was written and produced by Elliot Wolff.

The song is a mid-tempo dance tune. Daniel J. Levitin's This Is Your Brain On Music praises the song as "hold[ing] a certain appeal over many, many listenings."


Paula says in a YouTube video that her mother found this song for her. She says that her mom knew someone whose boyfriend was an aspiring songwriter, and she got "Straight Up" as an 8-Track Demo. The Demo version was so bad that Paula's mom was "crying laughing" at it, and threw it in the trash. But Paula heard something she liked in it, and retrieved it. At that time she was a full-time choreographer, and on the side, late at night she was recording music. The music label didn't think the song was any good. But Paula made a deal with them that she would record 2 songs they wanted, which she didn't like, if they would let her do "Straight Up". The song was recorded at a cost of $3,000. Later a friend of hers told her that somebody with her same name was being played on a northern California radio station. "Literally, within 10 days I [it] sold a million copies." The song was originally recorded in a bathroom, and in the masters of the recording, you can hear someone in the next apartment yelling "Shut up".[1]

"Straight Up" was the third single released from her debut album Forever Your Girl, after "Knocked Out" and "The Way That You Love Me." While the latter was enjoying success on the R&B charts, radio station KMEL in San Francisco started playing "Straight Up" from the album. The label decided to abandon "The Way That You Love Me" and refocus its attention on "Straight Up". The strategy paid off, as "Straight Up" was followed by three more number-one hits from the same album.

One of the 12" versions was remixed by LA "Powermixers" Chris Modig and Boris Granich, known for their special Power mixes at Power 106 during the 1980s.

After debuting at #79 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the week of December 3, 1988, the single quickly rose up the chart, reaching #13 by January 21, 1989.[2] It ultimately spent three weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart beginning February 11, 1989. It was certified Platinum by the RIAA with sales of more than one million units.[3] It reached number three in the UK and Germany.

Music video[edit]

The song became so popular that it ascended up the charts before a music video had even been shot for the song. The black and white video, directed by David Fincher and choreographed by Paula herself in mid-January 1989, won four 1989 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Female Video, Best Editing, Best Choreography, and the first Best Dance Video. The video features a special appearance by Paula's friend, comedian Arsenio Hall, whose popular talk show had premiered a few weeks prior to the video shoot. Djimon Hounsou also made a special appearance. Released in February 1989, the video at the time went into very heavy rotation on MTV, and it also made Abdul known for her exceptionally creative and distinct videos.

Release history[edit]

Country Release date
United States November 22, 1988
United Kingdom March 6, 1989

Chart performance[edit]

In the US, "Straight Up" reached the number-one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 on February 11, 1989, where it stayed for three consecutive weeks. "Straight Up" was one of the most popular R&B and dance-pop singles of the entire year, remaining in the Top 10 for seven weeks, the Top 20 for nine weeks, and the Top 40 for sixteen weeks. It ultimately ranked as the 4th biggest hit of the year on Billboard's year-end chart for 1989. The success of "Straight Up" catapulted the "Forever Your Girl" album into the top 20 on the album chart. Two more number-one hits from the album boosted it up further into the top 5 where it lingered before it finally reached #1 in October after a record-setting 64 weeks on the market.

The single was a worldwide smash, reaching the top ten in many music markets all over the world. In addition to topping the charts in the United States, the single also reached the top in Norway and Canada. It reached #3 in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany and The Netherlands. It also reached #8 in Austria, #5 in Belgium, and #2 in Sweden. In France, the single fell short of the top ten, reaching #12. In Oceania, the single received mixed success. The song fell short of the top twenty in Australia, reaching #27. In New Zealand, however, the single did much better, reaching #6.

Track listings and formats[edit]

US/UK/Euro 12"; UK 3"/Euro 5" CD singles[edit]

  1. Straight Up - 12" remix 6:53
  2. Straight Up - Power mix 3:05
  3. Straight Up - House mix 7:10 on 3", remix fades at 5:13
  4. Straight Up - Marley Marl mix 6:48 on 3", remix fades at 4:48

NB: the UK 12" and both CD singles feature shorter versions of the latter three mixes, as listed below.

ultimix 7" a straight up-ultimix 6:53 b opposites attract-1990 mix 6:49

Official mixes[edit]

  • Album version 4:10
  • 7" edit / Single Version 3:51 - Elliot Wolff/Keith Cohen; edited album version
  • 12" remix 6:54 - Elliot Wolff/Keith Cohen; extended album version
  • Power mix 5:36/4:57/3:01 - Boris Granich/Christer Modig; released in several different edits
  • House mix 7:10/5:13 – Kevin Saunderson/Ben Grosse; shorter version is faded early
  • Marley Marl mix 6:38/4:40 - Marley Marl; shorter version is faded early
  • Ultimix 6:55 – Les Massengale/Bradley Hinkle
  • Razormaid! remix 8:29 – Dave Bareither

See also[edit]


  1. ^ hudsonunionsociety (3 June 2012). "Paula Abdul on How Straight Up Became A Massive Hit" – via YouTube. 
  2. ^ "Page not found - Weekly Top 40". 
  3. ^ RIAA Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - Straight Up, accessed 2009-07-10
  4. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  5. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  6. ^ "Paula Abdul – Chart history" Canadian Hot 100 for Paula Abdul. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  7. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  8. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  9. ^ " – Abdul,Paula Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  10. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 13, 1989" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  11. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  12. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up". VG-lista. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  13. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  14. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  15. ^ "Archive Chart: 1989-04-08" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  16. ^ "Paula Abdul – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Paula Abdul. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  17. ^ "Paula Abdul – Chart history" Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs for Paula Abdul. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  18. ^ "Paula Abdul – Chart history" Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for Paula Abdul. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  19. ^ "Listy bestsellerów, wyróżnienia :: Związek Producentów Audio-Video". Polish Airplay Top 100. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  20. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1989". Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  21. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Paula Abdul – Straight Up". Music Canada. 
  22. ^ "British single certifications – Paula Abdul – Straight Up". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Straight Up in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
  23. ^ "American album certifications – Paula Abdul – Straight Up". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"When I'm with You" by Sheriff
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
February 11–25, 1989
Succeeded by
"Lost in Your Eyes" by Debbie Gibson