The first time I actively understood the intricacies of dance was in the five and half minutes of Paula Abdul’s first single, “Straight Up”. It wasn’t so much that I understood the mechanics. For instance, I didn’t know what a pirouette was, that she had an incredible plié and unbelievable balance, or one of her background dancers had an exquisite arabesque. But what I did recognize was just how beautiful everything was.
The black and white concept always appealed to me as something completely unique in music videos. 22 years after I saw it for the first time, it still stands the test of time as one of the most beautifully shot videos. The style was simple, the concept completely easy to follow. But what manages to keep this video fresh, and even more original than many videos today, is the sincerity in the movement, the grace of the camera angles.
The opening sequence alone is enough to send shockwaves down to the very points of my fingertips and get me aching to start dancing again. Despite what anyone else says about the woman, something Paula Abdul has always been is creative and technically flawless. Her debut as an artist showcased just why she was one of the most sought after choreographers of the late 80s and early 90s and still impresses me as a gorgeous display of cinematic elegance.
With David Fincher at the helm, Abdul constructing her own choreography and a score of extras (highlighted by her close friend Arsenio Hall, flawless jazz and hip-hop dancers and a makeshift big band) that took movement and music to new levels of interpretation, “Straight Up” remains one of my all-time favourite videos.