Taylor Swift may have opened the show at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards this Wednesday, but it was the night’s fantastic final act, 56-year-old Paula Abdul, who really had the audience at Las Vegas’s Grand Arena partying like it was, well, 1989.
In her first live awards show performance since the infamous 1991 VMAs, the former American Idol judge and eternal America’s sweetheart — nostalgically introduced by Karate Kid/Cobra Kai stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka — wowed with a six-minute medley of her beloved hits. The triumphant comeback performance was a celebration of her fittingly titled, septuple-platinum Forever Your Girl, which made history 30 years ago when Abdul became the first female artist to score four Billboard No. 1 singles off a debut album.
While the ’80s pop icon appeared to be lip-synching, nobody could criticize her dancing, from the moment she kicked off “Straight Up” with a bit of fleet-footed tap-dancing reminiscent of that song’s hit MTV video. The performance never slowed from there — with its climax being her climb to the top of some “Cold Hearted”-style scaffolding, followed by a jump at least 10 feet into the awaiting arms of her hunky male dancers. The bug-eyed, easily GIF-able reaction of the man standing next to Julianne Hough in the audience pretty summed up how epic that moment was.
Abdul just announced her new Vegas residency "Paula Abdul: Forever Your Girl" at Flamingo Las Vegas beginning Aug. 13, and this was basically a very compelling advertisement for it.
And speaking of Hough, her unwittingly cameo in Abdul’s routine, when she failed to catch Paula’s hat and nearly got decapitated by its high-speed airborne rim, was another totally meme-worthy moment.
Incidentally, Abdul’s BBMAs performance included a reunion with her old animated “Opposites Attract” duet partner MC Skat Kat, but in real life, she’s actually allergic to cats. Still, that didn’t stop her from getting a cute photo opp with the above-mentioned Taylor Swift’s Insta-famous cats, Meredith Grey and Olivia Benson, backstage at the ceremony.
Abdul wasn’t the only seasoned diva to steal the show from younger artists at this year’s BBMAs. Sixty-year-old Madonna performed her sexy new single “Medellín” with reggaeton superstar Maluma and a conga line of eyepatched Madonna holograms, while 49-year-old Mariah Carey accepted the lifetime-achievement Icon Award and performed her own hits medley.
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