Long before she was a judge who helped determine the next big singer on American Idol, Paula Abdul actually made music. (It's true!) The budget "10 great song" series collects some (all?) of her hits from the late '80s and early '90s with 10 Great Songs: Paula Abdul.

This compilation is, well, pretty basic. There are six songs from Abdul's 1988 debut album Forever Your Girl and four from the 1991 follow-up Spellbound. (There's nothing here from Abdul's last album, 1995's Head Over Heels.) There are no rarities, remixes, B-sides, lost tracks, or live versions here -- or even the lesser-known songs from the two albums on this collection.

And how do these hits sound over two decades later? About the same as when they were released: pop fluff. The songs here are all about love (except for the relentlessly optimistic "Promise of a New Day"), either about being in love ("Forever Your Girl," "Knocked Out," the strange "Vibeology") or love gone bad (the man-bashing "Cold Hearted," the wondering "Straight Up"). While Paula Abdul isn't a bad singer, her voice is far from exceptional; and the songs are pretty much routine upbeat pop or slower ballads. The songs are mixed up rather than presented in the original albums' release date, but there's no musical or lyrical development between the albums: They all sound like they could have been made at the same time. This may be the best of Paula Abdul -- certainly her most popular -- but the "great" in this compliation's is somewhat ironic.

10 Great Songs: Paula Abdul is a simple, straightforward presentation of Abdul's hits. This collection demonstrates what made Paula Abdul so radio friendly: extremely simple lyrics, a perky voice, and upbeat pop songs mixed with slower ballads. Decades later, it makes some sort of sense that she would help choose the American Idol winner - who's expected to be more popular than necessarily good.

Overall grade: C-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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