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Sunday, November 03, 2013

Rush Rush

Hello, everybody! And, welcome to another edition of the Sunday Jukebox!

You remember how last month, we had a bit of a theme month, where all the songs that I featured had a connection. That connection, of course, being that all the songs had music videos which could be considered scary, gory, or just plain weird. Very befitting for the Halloween season, don't you think?

Well, now that Halloween is over, the pumpkins have now been thrown out, and the Halloween candy that is left over is now at 50-75% off retail price, I need a new theme. And, I think that I've come up with one for this month that I hope that you all enjoy.

But before I do that, I would like to warn all of you living in Canada and the United States (barring Arizona, that is) that if you have not yet set your clocks back an hour, you probably should get around to doing that right now. Actually, you should have done it back at two o'clock in the morning.

It's a little phenomenon known as “Daylight Savings Time”. The con is that it gets dark at four in the afternoon. But the plus is that we get an extra hour to do with whatever we like with.

(Though admittedly, I'll be spending my extra hour in bed catching some well deserved Z's.)

But like it or not, daylight savings time is here to stay, and well, today is the day we bend time back around.

Why, thank you, Paula Abdul for illustrating my point very well. That particular song was recorded back in 1993, for inclusion on the Beverly Hills 90210 television soundtrack. Unfortunately, I bet most of you probably haven't heard of that song as it never hit the charts. I honestly don't even think that it was released as a single. But it does make the perfect soundtrack for November Daylight Savings Time.
Get it? Bend time back around? Turn the clocks back an hour?

(Man...I'm bombing on stage faster than Fozzie Bear. Wokka, wokka, wokka!)

Anyway, since I posted a Paula Abdul song earlier in this blog, I thought that I would keep Paula Abdul as the focus of today's blog. I honestly don't know if I did a blog on Paula Abdul before. I may have brought her up in a blog that I did on American Idol, but I don't think I've talked about one of her songs.

Oh well. No time like the present, right?

In fact, I think that Paula Abdul has sort of inspired this month's theme. What if I did a spotlight on some of the biggest hits of the 1990s? The all 90's Sunday Jukebox would make a great topic for this month's blog. After all, a lot of people are becoming nostalgic over the decade, and I believe that some people have actually thrown 1990s nostalgia parties, where they listen to 1990s music and dress like Kurt Cobain or one of the Spice Girls.

(And, honestly as someone who spent their teen years in the 1990s, it makes me feel really old knowing that the 1990s ended fourteen years ago.)

Now, when it comes to our first Sunday Jukebox subject – Paula Abdul – ironically enough, the 1990s were not exactly the greatest decade for her. In the 1980s, she was a huge star. She began her career as a choreographer, teaching dance moves to some of the biggest performers of the decade. If you watch closely, you can even spot Paula Abdul in a couple of Janet Jackson videos!

(Those videos being “Nasty” and “What Have You Done For Me Lately”.)

And, of course, Paula Abdul shot up to fame with the release of her debut album – 1988's “Forever Your Girl”, which spawned no less than six singles – four of which hit the number one position!

And then in the 2000s, Paula Abdul revived her popularity by appearing as a judge for the first seven seasons of the reality series “American Idol”. Paula Abdul was considered to be the “nice judge” of the series, and although towards the end of the run she was accused of being ditzy and loopy, I thought that when she first signed on to be a judge, she offered the budding singers some decent advice.

Even in the 2010s, Paula Abdul is still doing well, even releasing her own line of jewelry and accessories which can be bought through Avon catalogues.

But the 1990s? Let's just say that they were a rough decade for Abdul. Her marriage to Emilio Estevez hit the skids, she was involved in a plane crash which caused her to be in debilitating pain for years, she fought a battle against bulimia and won, and her music career really fizzled out. In fact, her last studio album that she released was 1995's “Head Over Heels”, which bombed on the charts (although ironically enough, two of my favourite Paula Abdul songs - “Crazy Cool” and “My Love Is For Real” both appear on that disc).

Really, the only part of the 1990s which weren't a major struggle for Abdul was the early part of the decade. Specifically 1991.

In 1991, Paula Abdul released the follow-up album to “Forever Your Girl”. That album was entitled “Spellbound”, and the disc spawned five singles – all of which hit the Top 20.

Of those Top 20 hits, two were number one hits. One, “Promise of a New Day” reached number one in September 1991. And today's single happened to be Paula Abdul's biggest hit, spending a total of five consecutive weeks at the top of the charts in the summer of '91.

It also seems to be a rather contrasting title, given the fact that today is the day we fall back and enjoy a lazy 25-hour Sunday. But, you know what? Let's go with it. There's a lot of trivia to be found within this five minute single.

ARTIST: Paula Abdul
SONG: Rush Rush
ALBUM: Spellbound
DATE RELEASED: May 2, 1991

Rush Rush” marked a couple of firsts for Paula Abdul. It was the very first single from “Spellbound”, and it also happened to be the very first time that Paula Abdul released a ballad.

Seriously, just listen to Paula's 1988 debut. I dare you to find one soft ballad that makes you want to take your date close and dance underneath the spinning mirror ball in the middle of a ballroom floor. And, “Knocked Out” doesn't count. You can't find one, can you?

It's really unknown as to why Paula Abdul didn't try her hand at singing a ballad prior to “Rush Rush” being released in May 1991. Perhaps because of the fact that Paula made her living as a choreographer prior to becoming a singer, maybe Paula believed that dance music was all that she could do. But you know, whatever the reason, ballads seemed to give Paula Abdul much attention. Not only did this single top the charts, but another ballad “Blowing Kisses In The Wind” was a Top 10 hit for Abdul in early 1992.

And, I suppose that Paula is hardly the only artist to hold off on releasing a ballad until they firmly established themselves as superstar on the charts. Janet Jackson's first ballad came almost four years after she released her “Control” album. Madonna's first ballad didn't come until three years after she released her debut single. Even Lady Gaga didn't release a ballad until after she had a few singles under her belt.

Rush Rush” was composed and produced by the songwriting team of Peter Lord and V. Jeffrey Smith (both members of the Family Stand), and believe it or not, the song was recorded using something called a 'scratch vocal'.

I'll admit that I actually had to look up that term, as I had never heard it before, but a “scratch vocal” is a vocal performance laid down by a singer to provide a reference to a producer when crafting other pieces of a recorded song.

It's basically a template or rough draft for a song so that producers and musicians can get the right tempo, or hit the right key. Once the instrumental portion of the song is finished, the singer often returns to the recording studio to polish it off.

In the case of “Rush Rush”, however, the vocals you hear in the finished product was never meant to appear on the final cut! Believe it or not, Paula Abdul's singing was a “scratch vocal”!

Turns out that when Paula Abdul dropped off the scratch vocal to Lord and Smith, they really liked it, and thought it was good enough to be used as the main vocal track for the single!

Though, I suppose that the very creative music video certainly helped the single reach the top of the charts. After all, the person who directed the video (Stefan Wurnitzer) really did his homework on the classic movies of the 1950s.

Particularly with the 1955 film classic “Rebel Without A Cause”, which starred James Dean and Natalie Wood.

In the video, Paula Abdul plays the role of Natalie Wood's character. And James Dean's character was played by early 1990s movie heartthrob Keanu Reeves.

And, yeah...I know what you're saying. Keanu Reeves and Paula Abdul re-enacting a classic movie from the 1950s. You think that it's a trainwreck in the making.

Okay, so the acting was definitely not Academy Award winning. But surprisingly enough, it worked surprisingly well. After all, the entire plot of “Rebel Without A Cause” was a boy disobeying his parents, standing up to a group of bullies at his school, and falling in love with the girl of his dreams, and all of the classic scenes of the movie were re-enacted in the “Rush Rush” video, including the iconic race scene.

And, that's all I have for all of you today. I hope you enjoyed this look back at early 1990s music, because we've got more where that came from this month! If you love all things 1990s, this is definitely the month for you to check in.

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