Paula: Michael Bolton Was a Bad Babysitter

by caught up with pop legend and American Idol judge Paula Abdul to speak about her new song and video (see it here), “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow,” off of Randy Jackson’s Music Club, Vol. 1 The pop number is Abdul’s first in almost 12 years, and it placed her solidly back on the charts. We’ll be breaking down Abdul’s comments over the next week in a variety posts. In today’s installment, she discusses how the new song came to be, and how she knows longstanding Idol co-host Randy Jackson. She also talks about why you should never let Michael Bolton babysit your kids.

Paula Abdul on how she came to record “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow”:

I?ll tell you how it all started. For the past six seasons [on American Idol], Randy and I toyed with the idea of collaborating. One of the guys will be singing a song, and [Randy and I] will look at each other and go, ?God, that would be a great cover.? But to focus Randy Jackson is like trying to catch a kid who?s at an amusement park and focused on getting cotton candy. It?s like, ?Randy! Yo, Randy! Come on, Randy!? He?s a total politician. He?s always like, ?Yo, we love this! We?re going to do this! We?re going to win! It?s great!? It goes on and on. I know he?s like this, so I?m always like, ?Stop toying with my emotions.?

I?ve known Randy going on 18 years. I first met Randy Jackson running my cheerleading and dance camp. I was always a businesswoman, looking to make my camps the best. It always seemed like there was a tour going on in each of the cities I?d do my competitions in. Well, Journey was on tour in each of those cities. I was 18 years old, calling them up and saying, ?Yeah, yeah, yeah, I need a bunch of tickets at a very discounted price. I?ll have hundreds of cheerleaders in uniforms doing the wave and all this stuff.? I talked the promoters into giving me a bunch of tickets, and so the winners of my competition would go to the Journey concert, go backstage and meet the band. That?s when I first met Randy. I was just starting being a Laker Girl and running my cheer and dance camp. He was the bass player! It was cool.

What was really funny — you know, I never told anyone this — was that I was making my album, my first album, and I didn?t want to lose my day job as a choreographer. At this point I was an award-winning choreographer, and I was still doing the Laker Girls, and my camp, and I was secretly recording. Right when ?Straight Up? was coming out, I was in the car with my sister. ?Straight Up? came on the radio. We were on Sunset Boulevard. It was so exciting. Right after that, we flipped the stations and heard this voice — it was a ballad. My sister goes, ?God, this reminds me so much . . . Paula, do you remember Bolotin?? Michael Bolotin [singer Michael Bolton?s birth name]. That was his name, Bolotin. He was best friends with my older sister and his girlfriend, Maureen, who he then married in Connecticut, was my sister?s best friend. He used to babysit me. I couldn?t stand him.

Forgive me, but when I was a Brownie — you know, before you?re a Girl Scout, at first you?re a Brownie — I remember coming home from Brownies, doing my homework with a pencil on my L-shaped couch. Michael was babysitting me. He never took care of me, he?d just do jam sessions outside in our condos. In the condos where we lived, the Tower of Power horn section lived across the pool area, and the Porcaro brothers from Toto lived two doors down, and the drummer from the Jackson 5 lived there too. I have such a documentary musical of my life in the making. You?d never believe it! This was the normal, everyday, after-school thing.

Anyway, I remember [Michael saying], ?Yep, yep, kid, I?m just going to be out there. I?ll be back in an hour, whatever.? I remember running on my knees to walk him out of the house. When I ran, my pencil was sticking straight up in one of the cushions and went right into my knee. Now I had a pencil in my knee. I?m screaming and screaming, and it was all because of him. He had to [skip] rehearsal, which he hated, and I had to get to the hospital. And that?s my experience of Michael Bolton.

So, if you can imagine, ?Straight Up? is on the radio, we flip the station, my sister goes ?God, that reminds me of Bolotin,? and that was Michael Bolton. We screamed, turned the car around, went into Tower Records, which is no longer on Sunset, and bought his album called The Hunger. I was like, ?Oh my God. This is how weird my life is.? Not even a minute after we?re at the cash register, my phone rings. It?s my agent saying, ?This is a weird request. This manager named Lewis Levin, who manages Michael Bolton [laughs] would like to meet with you, but first he needs to know — is Paula Abdul the Paula Abdul that [Michael Bolton] knows as a child?? I told my agent I?d take care of the phone call. I called Lewis and said, ?Don?t tell [Bolton] that it is me.? He?s laughing. He wanted to hire Paula Abdul the choreographer, but wasn?t sure it was the Paula Abdul he used to babysit. So my sister and I went to the studio where Michael Bolton was working. All this happened in one day. At four o?clock, he came out, and he just about fainted. We talked until about three o?clock in the morning. I said to him, ?What am I going to do choreograph you? You just stand there! You didn?t cut your hair! This is so weird.? He goes, ?Just help me. I just don?t know what to do.? So then I decided I?d help stage him and give him some movement.

Three days later, I went to S.I.R. [Studio Instrument Rentals] because he was getting ready to tour. He goes, ?I can?t believe that you?re going to have a number-one record!? I remember escorting him to one of the awards [shows] — everyone knew who Michael Bolton was! And then, at every single American Music Awards or Grammys, I?d get asked to announce the category that Michael Bolton was in. And then he?d win! There was one time that I didn?t do his category, and he goes, ?I knew I wasn?t going to win.? [Laughs]

But having said that, I drove to S.I.R., and there was Randy Jackson. He was [Michael Bolton?s] A&R guy! I know that was a long story but it shows my connection to Randy. Throughout all of my career, every three or four years of my life, [Randy plays an important part]. It started when I was a cheerleader, then when I was a choreographer, then when I was a recording artist. He would sometimes consult me, and then . . . American Idol. When I came in for Idol, they go [in tony British accent]: ?Paula. We have this guy Ryan Seacrest.? I didn?t know who Ryan was and they were going, ?Oh, brilliant. We wish Ryan was here. And a guy named Brian Dunkelman.? I?m like, uh huh. And then they?re like, ?We have Randy Jackson. And Paula, he?s not the fat Jackson from the Jackson 5.? I?m like, ?Duh! If you knew any of my background, I worked with the Jacksons. I know.? That?s the story.

So for me to get Randy to actually do [?Dance Like There?s No Tomorrow?] . . . . In every part of my life, there?s been triumph over adversity. I?ve been to the top, the stratosphere, and become a superstar in three separate and distinct careers — as a choreographer, then as a recording artist and breaking records, and then, the biggest, as a judge on American Idol. Now, to come back for the fourth time, and to have [a song and video charting] on iTunes . . . I don?t know any other artist who?s done that with their career, to be honest. Not Madonna, not anyone.

Tune in on Tuesday for part two of Paula Abdul in her own words.

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