The 1982 pop song "Mickey" may be one of the catchiest or most ear-grating songs ever made. Toni Basil was best known as the singer of the popular 1980s one-hit wonder, but she also found success as a choreographer ... Read more »
The 1982 pop song "Mickey" may be one of the catchiest or most ear-grating songs ever made. Toni Basil was best known as the singer of the popular 1980s one-hit wonder, but she also found success as a choreographer and actress. Born Antonia Christina Basilotta on September 22, 1943 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she started dancing as a child. She began her career as a choreographer when she served as an assistant and dancer on the ABC music variety show, "Shindig!" (1964-66). A natural performer, Basil ventured into the music industry when she recorded the title song for the short film "Breakaway" in 1966. (The song was later re-recorded by another singing actress of the 1980s, Tracey Ullman.) She began to act in films, most notably in the classic counter-culture film "Easy Rider" (1969) starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper and in The Monkees' psychedelic cult favorite "Head" (1968), in which she took part in a visually impressive dance scene with Davy Jones to the Harry Nilsson tune "Daddy's Song." As music video became to grow in popularity in the early 1980s, Basil found herself choreographing and directing some of the earliest music videos, including Talking Heads' pioneering "Once in a Lifetime" (1980). However, Basil became an international household name in 1982 when she recorded "Mickey." A catchy pop song that was immortalized by its music video, which featured Basil dressed in her old high school cheerleader outfit. One of the earliest videos to receive heavy air time during the early days of MTV, "Mickey" became a number one hit based almost entirely on the inventive and charming video. It became the only time Basil earned a Top 40 song, making her nearly synonymous with "one-hit wonder." However, Basil continued to find success as a choreographer. She earned a Grammy nomination for Best Video Album for her debut Word of Mouth in 1984 and an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography for her work on the revival of "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" in 1988. Her other film choreography credits include "Something to Talk About" (1995), "That Thing You Do!" (1996), and "Legally Blonde" (2001).