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Straight Up (Paula Abdul song)

"Straight Up" is a song recorded by American singer Paula Abdul for her debut album Forever Your Girl (1988). It was written and produced by Elliot Wolff, and was released as the album's third single on November 22, 1988, by Virgin Records. "Straight Up" became Abdul's first worldwide hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and brought her widespread public attention after two failed singles.

"Straight Up"
Single by Paula Abdul
from the album Forever Your Girl
ReleasedNovember 22, 1988
3:51 (single version)
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"

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."


According to Paula Abdul, her mother found this song for her. She says that her mother 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 Abdul’s mother was "crying laughing" at it, and threw it in the trash. But Abdul 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 record label didn't think the song was any good but Abdul offered to 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, someone in the next apartment can be heard 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.


"Straight Up" is performed in the key of D minor with a shuffling tempo of 96 beats per minute in common time and a chord progression of Dm–B–Gm–Am. Abdul's vocals span from A3 to C5 in the song.[2][3]

Commercial performanceEdit

After debuting at number 79 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart the week of December 3, 1988, the single quickly rose up the chart, reaching number 13 by January 21, 1989.[4] 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.[5] It ultimately ranked as the fourth 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 Billboard 200, before it finally reached number one after a record-setting 64 weeks on the market.

Worldwide, the song was a success, 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. It reached number three in the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Germany. It also reached number eight in Austria, number five in Belgium, and number two in Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden. In France, the single fell short of the top ten, reaching number 12. In Oceania, the single received mixed success. The song fell short of the top twenty in Australia, reaching number 27. In New Zealand, however, the single did much better, reaching number six.

Music videoEdit

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 Abdul 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 an appearance by her friend, comedian Arsenio Hall, whose popular talk show had premiered a few weeks prior to the video shoot. Djimon Hounsou also appears. Released later that month, the video at the time went into very heavy rotation on MTV, helping further Abdul's popularity.

Track listings and formatsEdit

US/UK/Euro 12"; UK 3"/Euro 5" CD singles

  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"

  1. Straight Up-ultimix 6:53
  2. Opposites Attract-1990 mix 6:49


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ hudsonunionsociety (June 3, 2012). "Paula Abdul on How Straight Up Became A Massive Hit" – via YouTube.
  2. ^ "Straight Up — Paula Abdul — Spot On Track". Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  3. ^ Wolff, Elliot. "Paula Abdul "Straight Up" Sheet Music in D Minor (transposable) - Download & Print". Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  4. ^ "Page not found — Weekly Top 40".
  5. ^ RIAA Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - Straight Up, accessed July 10, 2009
  6. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  7. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  8. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  9. ^ "RPM 100 Singles – March 18, 1989" (PDF). RPM. Vol. 49 no. 20. March 18, 1989. p. 6. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  10. ^ "RPM 100 Singles – March 11, 1989" (PDF). RPM. Vol. 49 no. 19. March 11, 1989. p. 14. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  11. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  12. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Straight Up". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  13. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 13, 1989" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  14. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  15. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  16. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up". VG-lista. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  17. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up". Singles Top 100. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  18. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  19. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  20. ^ "Paula Abdul Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  21. ^ "Paula Abdul Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  22. ^ "Paula Abdul Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  23. ^ "Paula Abdul Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  24. ^ " – Paula Abdul – Straight Up". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  25. ^ "Listy bestsellerów, wyróżnienia :: Związek Producentów Audio-Video". Polish Airplay Top 100. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  26. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1989" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  27. ^ "Top 100 Singles of '89". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  28. ^ "Top 25 Dance Singles of '89". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  29. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1989" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  30. ^ "End Of Year Charts 1989". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  31. ^ "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1989" (in German). Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  32. ^ "Year-End Charts '89 – Top 100 Singles". Music Week. London, England: Spotlight Publications. March 3, 1990. p. 16.
  33. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1989". Retrieved December 27, 2010.
  34. ^ "Top 100 Singles–Jahrescharts 1989" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  35. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  36. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Paula Abdul – Straight Up". Music Canada.
  37. ^ "British single certifications – Paula Abdul – Straight Up". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Straight Up in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  38. ^ "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 linksEdit