First Hit #1: September 2, 1989
Last time we ran across Paula Abdul I lamented that as an adult woman, she was singing a song that was a bit too juvenile. Cold Hearted, at least, is much more grown up than the previous song. That’s reflected by the video, which is an homage to All That Jazz’ over the top sexy dance, which is almost Madonna-esque in its not quite controversial aspects. It’s also a song that is designed to show how with it Abdul is, given that she throws in some rapping because the movement is on the cusp of complete mainstream acceptance. It’s actually pretty easy to dismiss Cold Hearted as something decidedly calculated, but on the other hand it is ridiculously catchy and shows off Abdul’s own wheelhouse rather well. The album Forever Your Girl was an example of a professional and talented woman making a pop career out of good ideas, and it’s success comes from the fact that Abdul knows what works for others, and knows what parts she can use for her own music. Years of being an in-demand choreographer has seeped into her attempt at pop stardom, and that’s why she’s able to make it work – she can see what has worked in her previous life, and has used that.
Which isn’t to say that her work isn’t catchy and enjoyable, it very much is. She’s behind some great pop music. It’s just that she’s coming at this from a career standpoint above all, and there’s a kind of corporate veneer that isn’t hard to notice. But then again, it’s all about the intersection of art and commerce, and to her credit Abdul knows exactly where the sweet spot is. She’s just leaning slightly over towards the commerce side.