“The Promise of a New Day” is one of my favorite Paula Abdul songs, mostly because it’s not that well known. Dare I say I’m trying to be a hipster Paula Abdul fan? Honestly though, what I love about “The Promise of a New Day” is that I can’t listen to it without hearing the lyrics as “the promise of a new lay.” I don’t even remember who made that up – it might have even been me, it’s certainly juvenile enough – but it’s all I hear when I listen to the song. Kind of like whenever I listen to Jody Watley’s “Looking For A New Love” I always hear it as “I’m looking for a nude love.” Aren’t we all?
Paula Abdul has what I refer to as a paper-thin voice, but what she lacked in vocal chops, she more than made up for in hooks. You can say that about a lot of artists through the years, right? I’ll never forget the first time I heard “Straight Up”, I was convinced it was Samantha Fox. In my defense, it was about time for another Samantha Fox album – that I was aware of when a new Samantha Fox album should be coming out probably said more about me at age 16 than I would have liked it to have said. Acts like Paula Abdul really aren’t about quality vocals – it’s all about the catchy melody, solid chorus and killer bridge. That’s what pop music really is all about, Charlie Brown. Now, it doesn’t hurt when someone who can actually sing incorporates all those elements into their songs, but I’m usually not all that picky. Which probably explains why I liked so many Paula Abdul and Samantha Fox songs.
Paula successfully avoided the sophomore slump with Spellbound, her follow up to Forever Your Girl and the home of “A Promise of a New Day.” The first two singles went to #1 and even though I didn’t like it much at the time, I’ll admit that “Rush Rush” has aged better than I thought it might. I remember the video for “The Promise of a New Day” being criticized for appearing to stretch Paula out a la Ann Wilson in the “All I Wanna Do To Make Love To You.” Turns out this is not true, but who knows and who cares? It’s still a pretty fun video, even though I do think she’s stretched out.
Abdul managed to spin five hit singles off of Spellbound, but that was pretty much the end of the line for her as her next album, Head Over Heels, was a DOA train wreck. Like so many before her, she couldn’t survive the arrival of grunge. But all was not lost as she managed a renaissance as a judge on American Idol and a new single in the mid 2000s, although it didn’t even come close to the chart performance she had in her 80s hey day. I guess some things are just best left in the 80s. Although, if you think about it, Britney is probably the 2000s equivalent to Paula, so the more things change, the more they stay the same.