This was originally recorded as "Kitty" by a group called Racey. In the original lyrics, Kitty was a girl. Toni Basil changed the lyrics from "Kitty" to "Mickey" and the gender from female to male. She decided on "Mickey" as she was fond of former Monkee Micky Dolenz, who she choreographed in the 1968 Monkees movie Head
. Tony Basil can be seen in Head
in the surreal sequence where Davy Jones and Tony Basil dance alternately in a white and a black room, wearing a combination of white and black.
Basil got the idea for the video before she found the song to accompany it. The video was produced, directed, and choreographed by Basil - she was the first to do this for her own video. She had made some short films in the past, and had a deal with a European company to make a collection of videos. For one of the videos, she decided to do something with a cheerleader concept, since she had been head cheerleader at Las Vegas High School (now known as Las Vegas Academy - that's why the sweater she wears in the video says, "LVHS"). She made the clip before MTV went on the air, and the video was first established in England, where various TV shows played it and sent the song up the charts, where it peaked at #2 in February 1982.
In America, it took a while before MTV got the video and started playing it, but when they did, the song took off, reaching #1 for a week in December 1982.
The cheerleaders in the video were members of a championship squad from Carson high school in Los Angeles. Basil met them at a competition where she was shooting video of cheerleading choreography.
Basil is an accomplished choreographer. She worked on dance numbers for many TV shows and movies, and often appeared on camera herself. She worked on the '60s show Shindig and was a guest star on Laverne and Shirley. She has also directed videos, including the Talking Heads "Once In A Lifetime," where she taught David Byrne his wacky dance moves. She did choreography for the movies That Thing You Do and My Best Friend's Wedding, and worked on the Gap commercials that featured swing dancing.
Basil appeared in the movie Easy Rider - she played one of the girls in the cemetery drug scene set in New Orleans. She grew up in show business. She is the daughter of Louis Basil, who led what was basically the house band at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas during the '60s. The band was known for its loose, rambunctious shows. (thanks, Jonah - San Francisco, CA)
Two years after this was released, Basil tried to follow it up with a song called "Over My Head," which stalled at #81 in the US. Her only other chart entry was "Shoppin' From A To Z," which went to #77 in the US, also in 1983.
The Irish teen girl group B*Witched recorded a version of this that was used at the end of the movie Bring It On. (thanks, Caitlin - Upper Township, NJ)
Weird Al Yankovic did a parody of this called "Ricky," which had a Ricky Ricardo/I Love Lucy theme. Al says the video cost about $3000 to make, and at one point, he was supposed to be shaking maracas. Since no maracas were handy, he ended up shaking a bowling pin.
Olivia Newton-John (backed-up by her sister, Rona) recorded a highly stylized version of this song for the 2012 movie soundtrack CD A Few Best Men. (thanks, James - Minneapolis, MN)