Paula Abdul presented a modernized version of her signature hit, “Straight Up,” on Wednesday’s Late Late Show, adding shadowy choreography and subtle electronic elements to the 1988 single.
The former American Idol judge, backed by a crew of dancers, strutted across the stage as digital panels lit-up and captured freeze-frames of her poses. The singer even interacted with the backdrops: bouncing a basketball during a shout-out to the Los Angeles Lakers (for whom Abdul was once a cheerleader) and diving into a computerized ocean. The song itself concluded with a remixed section featuring a percussive electro-pop groove.
Abdul – on-hand promoting STRAIGHT UP PAULA!, her first solo tour in over 25 years – also sat down for an interview with host James Corden, recalling how she used fake names and multiple outfits to land a spot as an L.A. Lakers cheerleader at age 18.
“I didn’t go the conventional way,” she told Corden. “I had four of my girlfriends who taught these dancing cheerleading camps with me – they came up to me and literally were like [looks down], ‘Hi Paula, do you want to try to be a Laker girl with us?’ I was like, ‘Um, I don’t look like you guys.'”
After being cut on her first audition, she stuck around, changed her clothes and signed up with a different name. “I heard ‘Alright, we’re thinning out the heard. You’re the first cut.’ I literally was cut right away before I danced. And two of my girlfriends were. I said, ‘I’ll be right back, and I went into the ladies’ room, and I sat in the stall on the throne and prayed. I took out another leotard and tights, and I changed my name, spelled it differently … I went out there and got to dance, and I got cut again.” Abdul eventually made the cut after her third audition – using the pseudonym “P.J. Apple.”
The performer’s North American tour launches October 3rd in Morristown, New Jersey.