With the rise of The Go-Go’s, people in the music business figured there was a demand for lowest common denominator music. (That is not a complaint about The Go-Go’s, who I love.) They were right. In 1982, Toni Basil released a monster hit with “Mickey” off her first album Word of Mouth.
Based on what I’ve already said, you might think I’m not a fan. But that’s not exactly true. It is a catchy song that is well-produced. But mostly, I enjoy it for the joke that it is.
I especially love the organ riff that ends each chorus. It’s a simple arpeggio: I, III, V, I-8va. It’s so simple that I can’t hear it without thinking, “Those producers!” I’m sure Mike Chapman (who co-wrote the song and played keyboards on it) told them, “You want me to play what?!” The whole song features professional musicians playing with as little creativity as they can muster.
The song was originally performed by Racey as “Kitty.” It’s still features a very simple production. But not in-your-face simple. The crew that created “Mickey” really upped the game and produced a song destined to top the Billboard Hot 100.