Sunday, September 30, 2012

Toni Basil's "Mickey"/Weird Al's "Ricky"

Believe it or not, "Mickey" was not Toni Basil's fifteen minutes of fame. Toni Basil is a dancer and choreographer, not a singer. She was also an occasional actress, appearing in such acclaimed, edgy late '60s movies as Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces. I remember seeing the credits for those movies and thinking, "Wait, is that the same Toni Basil? Couldn't be." Oh, but it was.

She's the girl with long black hair.

Toni Basil has done choreography for films such as American Graffiti, Peggy Sue Got Married, My Best Friend's Wedding, Legally Blonde, etc. The choreography for David Bowie's 1974 Diamond Dogs tour? Toni Basil. The choreography for Talking Head's "Once In A Lifetime" music video? Toni Basil. As with Toto, Toni Basil has had a massive effect on your life and you didn't even know it.

Or maybe you did, if "Mickey" happened to have a massive effect on your life, that is. Along with "We Got The Beat," it is one of the cornerstones of Cheerleader Rock. And if any '80s music video would happen to display superlative choreography, that video would be "Mickey."

But I will forever know "Mickey" as "Ricky," from Weird Al's first album, back when he still played accordion on every song, and long before he had the clout to, say, borrow video sets from Michael Jackson. In fact, I'm always taken aback whenever I listen to "Mickey" and it doesn't segue into the I Love Lucy theme at the end. I didn't know much about I Love Lucy when I first heard "Ricky," and honestly, I still don't know much about I Love Lucy even today. But I know a brilliant Weird Al song when I hear one. Maybe it's just his attempt to do a Cuban accent, or his character's inability to realize that "every day's a re-run and the laughter's always canned"; like Truman in The Truman Show, Ricky believes he has free will, but in reality, he merely exists for other people's amusement.

The irony.


Herr Zrbo said...

Facts: I've never seen the director's cut video for Mickey, nor have I ever seen video for the Weird Al version.

Who's doing the female vocals on Ricky? I love how there's a cheerleader there at the end, nice reference.

Little Earl said...

Also, there's a Japanese photographer, a Latin bongo player, and little boy with timpani mallets.

The female vocals on "Ricky" were performed by Tress MacNeille, who, like Toni Basil, has had a massive effect on our lives and we didn't even know it. She was the voice of Babs Bunny on Tiny Toons, Dot on Animaniacs, and various other characters on The Simpsons, Futurama, Rescue Rangers, Rugrats, etc, etc.

Herr Zrbo said...

Ahh, I do know who Tress MacNielle is. In fact, I think there's even a Futurama episode where the aliens (from Omicron Persei 8) come down and specifically ask for Tress MacNielle.