1986, Music

Top Gun Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1986) by Various Artists

Like everyone else my age, I have seen Top Gun more than a few times. Unlike virtually every other boy my age, I didn’t like it. I think it’s because I recognized it was dumb but more because everything else I knew seemed to love it. And I was already watching old war movies and westerns and making myself out to be some kind of movie-snob-in-training.

I’m glad to say that mostly what I think of when I hear “Danger Zone” now is Archer. Archer’s regular referencing of the song has turned it from one of the most annoying songs of the ’80s (for me) to a gag. And I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. The other hit is “Take My Breath Away” and I never quite hated it as much as “Danger Zone.” I’m not really sure why. But I suspect both Loggins and Berlin have conflicted feelings about their involvement in the project. Having massive hits with songs written for you, especially if you were pressured into recording them, cannot be a great feeling (if you write the rest of your music).

The decision to not include “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’,” certainly one of the most famous scenes in the film, really feels like a mistake all these years later. Not that it would fit in with the rest of the music, but it does feel like a stilly thing to do. The reissue correct the omission, as well as adding “Great Balls of Fire,” but that’s not what I’m reviewing. Taking away the the two best songs on the soundtrack, no matter how incongruous they were with the rest of this, seems like a mistake.

None of the rest of Moroder’s music, nor the songs written by others, match the sheer catchiness of the two biggest hits. And none of them match the ’80s ridiculousness of them either. It wouldn’t be surprising for me to learn that of the millions of people to buy this record, almost all of them bought it for “Take My Breath Away” or “Danger Zone.” If you haven’t spent your whole life listening to this album, and you listen to it now, you’ll really notice how forgettable the deeper cuts are. (I’ve seen the movie multiple times and I still don’t remember these songs!)

Like so many Hollywood soundtracks (not scores) it’s really hard to see the musical value in this. It’s also really hard to see why so many millions of people just had to have this album. Yes, the music is original (at least) but most of it is really not great. And the two older songs included in the movie weren’t on the original edition.


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