Paula Abdul Should Be Allowed Do This at Every Awards Show

If there isn’t time for Paula Abdul to perform at any given awards show moving forward, she should at least be allowed a hat at someone’s neck. It’d take two seconds and it would make awards season so much more exciting and dangerous.

Never thought I’d be typing this, not even as someone who drove to Jersey to see Paula Abdul in concert in the last year, but Paula Abdul utterly smashed this year’s Billboard Music Awards. Unreal. Hers was the most entertaining performance of a night that featured a bunch of contemporary hit-makers who seemed bored by their own material, in addition a detrimentally pitchy greatest hits performance by Mariah Carey, as well as Madonna traipsing around a bunch of CGI versions of herself that were a total rip-off if in fact they cost the Daily Mail’s highly dubious quote of $5 million. Paula Abdul, who at 56 hasn’t charted in the Top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in about 24 years, was the essential performance of the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, and her mic seemingly didn’t transmit a thing coming out of her mouth (if anything was in fact coming out of her mouth at all). What a time to be alive and amongst living legends!

Abdul’s nearly six-minute performance, also a hit medley, was choreographed within an inch of her life (hell, all of our lives) and still managed to seem unhinged. Part of that was a result of unexpected turns—a few missed steps during the opening tap dance that revealed she was tap-syncing, the aforementioned near-decapitation of Julianne Hough by fedora. But there were baked-in moments so wild they seemed feral.


Only Paula Abdul could make flopping into an art form.


You can drag her, but she already hired someone to do that for her, rendering you irrelevant.

My favorite thing about the hat—which was my favorite thing, period—is that after a half-second grimace of what may have been acknowledgement...


...Paula kept right on going, not even reaching out to Hough as she passed by.


It’s Paula’s show now. You might get hit in the neck. Watch out.

At one point, she spoke to the crowd (“Thank you, Billboard Awards! We’re in Vegas, baby!”), though this seemed to be prerecorded as everything she “sang.” She danced with her cartoon-cat duet partner of “Opposites Attract,” who was inserted alongside her for those watching at home. The effect had roughly the same production value as Madonna’s performance, but it was better because instead of many more Madonnas, it was MC Skat Kat.


The section of the video mix of “Coldhearted,” in which Abdul raps was featured. There were a lot of characters rapping in the late-’80s/early-’90s that had no business doing so: Paula, Mariah, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Barney Rubble, the aforementioned Skat Kat, Mark Wahlberg. A good reminder of a dark time.


Abdul’s performance ended on “Forever Your Girl.” As giant fluorescent-tinted pictures of the singer flashed on the giant screens in back of her, she reached out to shake the hands of reaching audience members. The message? She’s our girl, forever, even if most of us who are reaching out to touch her are way too young to know any of these songs or have any idea what was going on here, she’s forever our girl. Abdul’s sheer charisma was enough to will this true, or close enough. If she keeps giving us riveting performances like this, she can be whatever the hell she wants to be.

Share This Story

About the author

Rich Juzwiak

Some Pig. Terrific. Radiant. Humble.