Until this year, Paula Abdul was the Bigfoot of hip TV: You seldom saw her, but her footprints were everywhere. The mesmerizing videos that launched Janet Jackson's career? Abdul choreographed them. Ditto the exuberantly screwball footwork in ZZ Top's videos or The Tracey Ullman Show, whose dance routines brought the former L.A. Laker cheerleader an Emmy.

Abdul might have remained simply the owner of Hollywood's happiest feet if she hadn't decided to add a hyphen (dancer dash singer), release an LP, Forever Your Girl, and strut her own stuff on MTV. The results? Three No. 1 singles in 1989, 4 million albums sold and an air of giddy disbelief that sits delightfully on her 5'2" frame. To celebrate, she recently bought a house and a black Jaguar; the only thing missing in her life is a major-league beau ("I don't have time for one, honestly"). "It has been one of those years that if I was never successful again, I'd feel okay," says Abdul, 26. "I've realized all the dreams I ever had as a little girl."