I don’t think anyone considers Paula Abdul the most technically accomplished of singers, although she was for some time one of the judges of American Idol where she was subjected to a lot of pitchy singing from people who sought to achieve stardom just as she had. Yet the fact that a pop princess whose career peak lasted but two years and who has only released three studio albums is a notable snub of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame from the late 80’s and early 90’s and was able to turn her career into a role as a judge and mentor of future pop singers (some of whom, like Daughtry, Kelly Clarkson, and Carrie Underwood, appear destined to be future members of this particular series) is itself greatly impressive. To be a noteworthy act in the Rock & Roll era does not always require a lengthy career in the spotlight. Sometimes it can be one album, and in this case two albums of immensely popular and influential material along with a solid and reasonably popular third album is more than enough to make Paula Abdul an artist that should obviously be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She was not big for very long, but she was good enough and big enough when she was, and able to parlay that into a different kind of influence, to make her an obvious inductee from a forgotten era of dance-pop divas.
The Influence Of Paula Abdul
The influence of Paula Abdul, like that of many worthy inducees into the RRHOF, has several threads to it. One thread is her music itself, the polished dance pop with a certain strength and spunk to it, that has obviously inspired a great many girl-powerish female dance pop singers in future generations. Her skilled choreography owed a fair amount to Janet Jackson but like Janet, it inspired a great many other artists to use their choreography skills to aid in their pop stardom, something one sees particularly among K-pop girl groups. Likewise, Paul Abdul spent years on American Idol counseling and helping to mentor a generation of pop singers (and a few from other genres as well) and using her own experience as a way of providing insight to others who wanted to achieve the same sort of pop superstardom that she did. Together, all of these strains suggest that while Paula Abdul was certainly not someone who appealed to the rock crowd very much, she was certainly someone who had a great deal of influence on popular music in profound ways aside from just her music, which remains very good in its own right.
Why Paula Abdul Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
We have already discussed her influence in terms of her dancing skills as well as her role on American Idol, so let us focus on Paula Abdul’s musical accomplishments. She has only released three studio albums, all of which went at least gold and her first two of which went multi-platinum, as well as a platinum-selling remix album, giving her total sales of more than fifty million, which alone is worthy of induction . She also had six straight singles go to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, all of which remain classics of their time: Straight Up, Forever Your Girl (the title track of her debut album), Cold Hearted, Opposites Attract (with the Wild Pair), Rush Rush, and The Promise Of A New Day, all of which show a range between sweetly impassioned lover to worldly wise and righteously angry woman. Beyond that she had top ten success with (It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me and Blowing Kisses In The Wind, and she had further top 40 success with Vibeology, Will You Marry Me?, and My Love Is For Real. Overall, her achievement of 6 #1 hits, 8 top 10 hits, and 11 top 40 hits is an impressive one, and she not surprisingly managed to notch #1 hits on Adult Contemporary and Dance as well, demonstrating a broad appeal.
Why Paula Abdul Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
There are at least a few obvious reasons why Paula Abdul Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She is a dance pop artist from the late 80’s and early 90’s, a genre and time that the Rock & Hall of Fame has tended to ignore thoroughly in terms of even nominations, much less inductions. Even her work on American Idol would give her a far more populist gloss than most critics of rock & roll music would appreciate. Ultimately, though, none of these reasons are good enough.
Verdict: Induct her. It may take a long while before her achievements are recognized, but she’s definitely a worthwhile artist to induct, towards the front end of a great many more dance-pop oriented female acts to follow.