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Arguably one of the most iconic movies of the 1980s, Tom Cruise’s fighter pilot blockbuster Top Gun also spawned one of cinema’s most memorable soundtracks. So when the Joseph Kosinski-directed sequel Top Gun: Maverick was released in May 2022 – a full 36 years later – our first question was: who did the music?
In this blog we answer all your burning Top Gun music questions, from ‘What is the love song in Top Gun?’ and ‘What is the song at the end of Top Gun?’ to ‘What is the theme song from Top Gun: Maverick?” But first, let’s take a look at the plots of the two Top Gun movies.
Directed by Tony Scott, 1986’s Top Gun follows an elite group of fighter pilots as they attempt to graduate from the Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School. Our hero is Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise), a pilot with a reckless outlook and a cocksure attitude which put him at odds with all of his classmates, bar his loyal flight partner Goose (a pre-ER Anthony Edwards). To add to the drama, Maverick falls in love with his flight instructor (Kelly McGillis).
Top Gun: Maverick resumes Mitchell’s story three decades later, now a test pilot and one of the Navy’s top aviators. But while training a new cohort of graduates for a special assignment, Mitchell is forced to re-examine his past and confront his fears for an adrenaline-fuelled mission.
The film features Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer reprising their original roles, with the addition of new cast members Jennifer Connoly, Ed Harris, Miles Teller, Ed Harris and John Hamm.
Top Gun (1986): The Soundtrack
From Berlin’s Oscar-winning love theme to Harold Faltermeyer’s evocative theme song, there are few more memorable soundtracks than that of Top Gun.
Winning a BRIT Award for Best Soundtrack upon its release in May 1986, the 10-track collection features the significant musical talents of Harold Faltermeyer, Giorgio Moroder and Kenny Loggins. It went on to become one of the best-selling soundtracks of all-time.
Its original tracklisting was as follows:
- ‘Danger Zone’ – Kenny Loggins
- ‘Mighty Wings’ – Cheap Trick
- ‘Playing With The Boys’ – Kenny Loggins
- ‘Lead Me On’ – Teena Marie
- ‘Take My Breath Away’ – Berlin
- ‘Hot Summer Nights’ – Miami Sound Machine
- ‘Heaven In Your Eyes’ – Loverboy
- ‘Through The Fire’ –Larry Greene
- ‘Destination Unknown’ – Marietta
- ‘Top Gun Anthem’ – Harold Faltermeyer
In 1999, Columbia Records released a special expanded reissue of the soundtrack featuring five bonus tracks:
- ‘(Sittin On) The Dock Of The Bay’ – Otis Redding
- ‘Memories’ – Harold Faltermeyer
- ‘Great Balls Of Fire’ – Jerry Lee Lewis
- ‘You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'’ – The Righteous Brothers
- ‘Playing With The Boys (Dance Mix)’ – Kenny Loggins
Top Gun Songs
The Trailer Song: ‘Stranger Eyes’ by The Cars
What is the trailer music from Top Gun?
It’s a conundrum that’s been confounding pop fans for years, particularly considering the answer is this slice of propulsive synth-pop which wasn’t even included on the film’s official soundtrack.
The Opening Theme: ‘Top Gun Anthem’ by Harold Faltermeyer
The film’s iconic instrumental theme was created by German composer Harold Faltermeyer, also known for writing ‘Axel F’ for the Beverly Hills Cop franchise.
A bombastic, instrumental-rock anthem, it stars Steve Stevens on lead guitar – a virtuosic performance for which he earned a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.
The Love Song: ‘Take My Breath Away’ by Berlin
Arguably one of the greatest love songs in the history of cinema, Top Gun’s wildly successful love theme was written by legendary composer Giorgio Moroder, with lyrics by Tom Whitlock, and performed by L.A.-based new wave outfit Berlin.
A stirring synth-pop power ballad, ‘Take My Breath Away’ won an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song in 1986.
‘Danger Zone’ / ‘Playing With The Boys’ – Kenny Loggins
Pre-Top Gun, Kenny Loggins was certainly no stranger to film soundtracks, having written the Oscar-nominated theme to Footloose and contributed to the music for 1976’s A Star Is Born.
But with Top Gun, the American singer-songwriter scored two of his most recognisable hits – singing on Giorgio Moroder composition ‘Danger Zone’ and co-writing ‘Playing With The Boys’. We defy you to listen to the latter without visualising Top Gun’s infamous beach volleyball scene.
‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’’ – The Righteous Brothers
If we’re naming Top Gun’s top three most enduring scenes, the one in which Maverick and Goose woo their flight instructor by singing ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’’ has to be up there.
Produced by Phil Spector, in 2015 The Righteous Brothers’ classic song was selected for special recognition and preservation by the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.
Top Gun: Maverick (2022): The Soundtrack
Much like the film itself, the music from Top Gun: Maverick succeeds in being deferential to original film while still offering fans something fresh. But who did the music for Top Gun: Maverick?
Released via Interscope Records back in May, the soundtrack combines songs from the 1986 soundtrack (‘Danger Zone’) with reworked originals (‘Top Gun Anthem’) and brand new compositions (‘I Ain’t Worried’). It also marks Lady Gaga’s first foray into film scoring.
In addition to writing the song’s epic love theme ‘Hold My Hand’, the Oscar-winning songwriter collaborated on instrumental pieces with composers Hans Zimmer, Harold Faltermeyer and Lorne Balfe.
The soundtrack’s tracklisting is as follows:
- 'Main Titles (You've Been Called Back To Top Gun)' – Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga, Lorne Balfe
- 'Danger Zone' – Kenny Loggins
- 'Darkstar' – Harold Faltermeyer, Lorne Balfe
- 'Great Balls Of Fire' – Miles Teller
- 'You're Where You Belong / Give 'Em Hell' – Hans Zimmer, Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga, Lorne Balfe
- 'I Ain't Worried' - OneRepublic
- 'Dagger One Is Hit / Time To Let Go' – Hans Zimmer, Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga, Lorne Balfe
- 'Tally Two / What's The Plan / F-14' – Hans Zimmer, Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga, Lorne Balfe
- 'The Man, The Legend / Touchdown' – Hans Zimmer, Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga, Lorne Balfe
- 'Penny Returns - Interlude' – Hans Zimmer, Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga, Lorne Balfe
- 'Hold My Hand' – Lady Gaga
- 'Top Gun Anthem' – Hans Zimmer, Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga, Lorne Balfe
Top Gun: Maverick Songs
The Trailer Song: 'Top Gun Anthem' – Hans Zimmer, Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga, Lorne Balfe
Just when you thought the original ‘Top Gun Anthem’ couldn’t get any more epic, Top Gun music composer Harold Faltermeyer brought in Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe and Lady Gaga to give it a 2022 makeover.
Now featuring a full orchestra behind the wall of synths and guitar, it’s a spine-tingling update to one of the most iconic themes in film.
The Opening Theme: 'Main Titles (You've Been Called Back To Top Gun)' – Hans Zimmer, Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga, Lorne Balfe / ‘Danger Zone’ – Kenny Loggins
For Top Gun: Maverick’s opening scene, fighter pilots are shown preparing to take off to the strains of ‘Main Titles’, which interpolates the melody from the aforementioned rebooted ‘Top Gun Anthem’.
Once the fighter jets take off, the music switches to Kenny Loggins’ adrenaline-fuelled classic ‘Danger Zone’.
The Love Song: ‘Hold My Hand’ – Lady Gaga
Described by Paramount’s President of Motion Picture Music, as “the heartbeat of the movie”, Lady Gaga pulled out the big guns for the film’s love theme ‘Hold My Hand’. Think 80s arena pop, with powerhouse vocals and a sonorous electric guitar solo.
The bombastic power ballad was written by Gaga and produced by BloodPop, with whom she collaborated on her last studio album Chromatica. Check out the Lady Gaga Top Gun video below.
I Ain’t Worried’ – OneRepublic
Created specifically for the film by OneRepublic frontman and songwriter extraordinaire Ryan Tedder, this breezy piece of pop-rock proved a perfect match for the beach volleyball scene.
Fun fact: the whistling melody was borrowed from Peter Bjorn and John’s 2006 single ‘Young Folks’.
Feel the Need, the Need for Speed?
Enjoyed our Top Gun soundtrack rundown? You can find out more about music in film over on our blog, The Edit, which features articles divided into the categories News, Inspiration and Expertise. Recent blogs include an analysis of the Suicide Squad soundtracks, our guide to the best soundtracks of 2022 and a deep dive into Black history movies and their soundtracks.
If you’re looking for musical inspiration for your next blockbuster, we’ve got a whole host of resources for you to discover. Head to our Playlist Hub where you can listen to a whole host of curated playlists, or check out our Collections page or our latest albums.
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