Chart Beat

Rewinding the Charts: In 1989, Paula Abdul Was America's No. 1 'Girl'

Paula Abdul, 1989
Michel Linssen/Redferns

Paula Abdul photographed in The Netherlands in 1989.

The choreographer-turned-singer-turned-'American Idol' judge's 1988 debut album made it to the top of the Billboard 200 -- it just took 64 weeks to get there.

Some things are worth the wait. On Oct. 7, 1989, Paula Abdul's debut album, Forever Your Girl, made music history when it completed the slowest climb to No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

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By the end of 1989, Abdul, then 27, was inescapable on the charts and on the radio. The former Laker Girl ­dominated the Billboard Hot 100 that year with three No. 1 singles from the album: "Straight Up," the title track and "Cold Hearted."

But though the album spent most of the year in the top 10 of the Billboard 200, it didn't hit No. 1 until its 64th week -- a record that still stands today.

Forever Your Girl would ultimately spend 10 nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 and go on to sell 7 million albums in the United States, according to the RIAA. The album would tally a fourth No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 1990: "Opposites Attract," with The Wild Pair, and contained another hit in the No. 3-peaking "(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me," making Girl one of the few albums to generate five top 10 Hot 100 hits.

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The album's success would be momentarily tarnished in 1991, when backup singer Yvette Marine filed a lawsuit, alleging she had shared lead vocals on some of the songs (she ultimately lost the suit). In 1995, Abdul told Billboard the experience "hit like a brick," adding, "That is my lead vocal on every single song."

Following Forever Your Girl, the Grammy and Emmy winner released two more albums and, in 2002, became a TV star as a judge on the first eight seasons of American Idol.