Sitting awkwardly somewhere between a novelty record and a true pop song, Toni Basil’s Mickey is one of those songs that immediately goes hand in hand with memories of the 1980’s. If you buy one of those compilation CD sets of the decade chances are Mickey will feature on there, granted probably towards the end of the last disc along with The Chicken Song and Agadoo, but it will be there. It’s one of those songs that it just isn’t cool to admit to liking, but yet everybody will at least know the chorus line and sing along with it…
Oh Mickey, what a pity, you don’t understand.
You take me by the heart when you take me by the hand.
…and so on. The Mickey referred to by the title of the song is supposed to be Mickey Mouse, although the lyrics never mention big black ears, red shorts with two white buttons or oversized white gloves with only three fingers. However, given that Toni was dressed as a cheer leader for the duration of the song I suppose you could say it was something along the lines of a homage to the sort of songs they used to sing on the Mickey Mouse Club TV show.
Sticking with the cheer leader theme, this song really brought the idea of cheer leaders to the UK. Prior to this song most people in the UK probably didn’t know what a cheer leader was, but it brought the concept a great deal of popularity at the time and you could buy cheer leading pom-poms in the shops. These were basically a massive collection of thin strips of the plastic stuff they make Christmas tinsel out of, all attached to a plastic handle. They made a great rustling sound when you shook them about, and were quite fun to watch as the strands squirmed about.
Toni Basil (full name Antonia Christina Basilotta) herself was originally a choreographer, and is credited with working in this regard on the George Lucas film American Graffiti among others. I personally always found her a little frightening to look at, as she sported some odd half crazed looks during the video for the song. She did have a couple of albums during the 1980’s, but Mickey was really her only hit.