Toni Basil’s choreography work dates back to the ’60s, which includes 1964’s Pajama Party and The Monkees’ 1968 film Head. However, Basil is most known for her smash hit, “Mickey”. The song was written by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn as “Kitty“, it was first recorded by the UK group Racey. Basil changed the name from Kitty to Mickey to make the song about a man, and because she was fond of The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz after meeting him on the set of their movie Head.
The song reached number 1 on December 11, 1982 , for one week. Basil proved to be ahead of her time, as “Mickey” was actually recorded in 1980 and the video was conceived, directed, and choreographed by Basil herself for the UK-based label Radial Choice nearly a year before the inception of MTV in 1981.
When the song was released in 1982, it became a staple on MTV. In the video, Basil wore her head cheerleader uniform from Las Vegas High School from which she graduated. During an interview on VH1’s “100 Greatest Songs of The 80’s”, Basil revealed that she still owns the same cheerleader sweater she wore in the video. “Mickey” was named #5 on VH1’s 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of all time, #16 on 20 to 1’s Top 20 One Hit Wonders Countdown and #7 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the ’80s.
Basil has continued to work in choreography. She has worked with Bette Midler for many years, most recently on her 2008/2009 Las Vegas show The Showgirl Must Go On. She also served as the associate director and choreographer of the worldwide Tina Turner Live: 50th Anniversary Concert Tour in 2008/2009. Her expertise as a choreographer led her to be invited to sit as a guest judge on season four and five of Fox Television’s So You Think You Can Dance.
For us 80s fans, Basil will forever be beloved for her hit, “Mickey”: