One-Hit Wonders: Toni Basil



Toni Basil is an American singer-songwriter, actress, dancer, choreographer and director whose song “Mickey” became a hit during the 80s music era. “Mickey” is Basil’s only Top 40 hit, making her a one hit wonder. More on Toni Basil here in this article.

Dancing and acting career

Toni Basil was born Antonia Christina Basilotta in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 22, 1943. She was a natural dancer and had been dancing professionally since she was a kid. During her high school years in Las Vegas she became the varsity cheerleader, and she later incorporated it into her adult dancing career.

She also went to work as a choreographer who first worked on the musical variety show Shindig! and T.A.M.I. Show in the 1960s. Basil went on to work in films such as Village of the Giants and Head, as well as music videos including the ones for the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” and “Crosseyed and Painless.”

Basil also essayed the role of a hooker in the landmark film Easy Rider.

Singing and recording career, and her only hit “Mickey”

Apart from being a dancer, Basil was also a singer and recording artist. She started her recording career with A&M Records in 1966, releasing the single “Breakaway” (the title song of the film of the same title; she also appeared there as a dancer) b/w “I’m 28,” written by future 10cc member Graham Gouldman.

In 1981 Basil signed with Chrysalis label to cut her debut LP Word of Mouth. One of the album’s tracks was “Mickey.” It was written by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn for the British group Racey, who performed it originally as “Kitty.” Basil changed the title to “Mickey” to make a song about a man.

“Mickey” was first out in the UK, where it eventually became a #2 hit. Its cheerleader-themed promotional video was directed by Basil herself. It helped “Mickey” to climb the Billboard Hot 100, eventually making it to #1 and staying there for a week. Not only did the song become a chart hit and now-oldies music classic, but more than that — it became a cultural phenomenon.

Later career

Despite her massive hit “Mickey,” Basil was unable to duplicate it. Her subsequent releases “Shoppin’ From A to Z” and “Over My Head” as well as her self-titled 1983 album failed to make it big on the charts. As a result, she went back to her earlier career as a dancer and choreographer for movies, television and commercials. Among her more notable later works are seen in the films Delirious, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and That Thing You Do! Basil also appeared as guest judge on the TV dancing contest So You Think You Can Dance.

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