To hear Paula Abdul tell it, her megahit ”Opposites Attract” might never have gone anywhere if she hadn’t cooked up MC Skat Kat. ”It was my seventh single!” Abdul remembers. ”I was told we shouldn’t risk oversaturation, because at that point I was very well saturated.” But that rapping cartoon pet made ”Opposites” a smash, and on Feb. 10, 1990, the single — from Abdul’s seven-times-platinum album Forever Your Girl — hit No. 1.
Believe it or not, Skat Kat was hatched as an homage to Gene Kelly. ”I had this whole idea for an animated cat to pay tribute to him when he danced with the mouse in Anchors Aweigh,” says Abdul. ”But mine would represent the day’s hip-hop pop cultural guys.” The funky feline’s intro rap, which was added just for the video, was performed by Romany Malco, who later starred in the first three seasons of Weeds (the other non-Paula portions were sung by duo Tony Christian and Marvin Gunn, a.k.a. the Wild Pair). For the visuals, the future American Idol judge storyboarded her vision with some Disney animators, then presented it to her record label. ”They said, ‘Oh, my God, this is going to be huge!”’ They were right.
”It was the breakthrough of the year,” says Abdul. ”It was just ground-breaking. Everyone remembers Skat Kat.”
The video for ”Opposites Attract” earned Abdul her lone Grammy — and something she treasures even more: a friendship with Gene Kelly, who called after seeing the clip. ”I cultivated a real relationship with him the last two years of his life,” Abdul recalls. ”It was the coolest thing. I would have tea with him — sometimes once a week, sometimes twice a week.” Opposites attract, indeed.