Another one-hit wonder from the 1980s, “Mickey” by Toni Basil rocketed to the top of the charts in 1982, knocking Lionel Richie’s “Truly” out of the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100. The accompanying video was an early favorite on the newly-formed MTV, and within a year the single had gone double-platinum—a testament of sorts to the influence MTV was to have on record sales.
Although she only made two albums and had one Top-40 hit, Toni Basil was anything but a flash-in-the-pan. Her larger contribution to the entertainment industry has been as a dancer, then as a choreographer for television and film. She started off as an original member of an influential street dance group called the Lockers in the 1960s, who even toured with Frank Sinatra at one point. Basil went on to do dance choreography for such noteworthy films as American Graffiti, Something To Talk About, That Thing You Do!, and many others—not to mention choreographing both music videos and live tours for Talking Heads, David Bowie, Tina Turner and others. She has even acted in several films and television shows, written soundtracks for numerous others, and even directed a few shorts.
Personally, it’s interesting to me to see how the cheerleader motif of this one video and song have had perhaps some unintended influence on future songs and artists. I’m particularly reminded of Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” and pretty much the entire sound of the Ting Tings. As an added bonus, I’ve included videos for both artists below “Mickey.” See if you can hear/see any similarities.
Here’s the Gwen Stefani video for “Hollaback Girl.”
And here’s a video from the Ting Tings. No cheerleader theme in the video, but listen to Katie White’s vocal style. Can you hear it?