Why is Top Gun – Motion Picture Soundtrack on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
Revvin’ up your engine, listen to her howlin’ roar.
Some stats & info about Top Gun – Motion Picture Soundtrack
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Film Soundtracks, Compilations, Rock Music
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 3 out of 5 stars
- When was Top Gun – Motion Picture Soundtrack released? 1986
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #673 out of 1,000
Top Gun – Motion Picture Soundtrack on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does Top Gun – Motion Picture Soundtrack mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
If there’s an iconic song from this iconic 1986 movie, it’s Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone.” It’s so Maximum 1980s that I’ll admit that it’s a wee bit cheesy, but it quickly blasts through being confined within that box through its bombastic force of will. Much like many aspects of 1980s pop culture.
No doubt in part due to its association with Top Gun, the propulsive guitar hook and Kenny’s wailing on about the highway to the danger zone never fails to get me fired up.
By the way, it’s kind of interesting that “Danger Zone” is ostensibly about a highway whereas Top Gun is primarily concerned with air combat, but let’s just set that aside for now.
Berlin’s* “Take My Breath Away” is an incredible moody and melodramatic bookend to “Danger Zone.” Both set the vibe for Top Gun in its over-the-top action and… over-the-top lovin’ involving Tom Cruise’s Maverick and Kelly McGillis’ Charlie.
* Am I biased by the band name Berlin? You better believe it.
What’s interesting too about the Top Gun soundtrack is that it digs back to the 1950s and early 1960s as much as the 1980s for inspiration, perhaps in part as a means for calling back to a pre-Vietnam War and counterculture era when being unabashedly and unashamedly patriotic was more or less taken for granted by most Americans. This again will track very well for those who were around during the Reagan Administration and aware of the overriding politics and cultural mores of the time.
The two standout songs to call out here are The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” and “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis (both of which play small but important roles within the film itself as well).
Pop culture stuff that’s somehow related to Top Gun – Motion Picture Soundtrack
One of my favorite podcasts is called The Rewatchables, wherein Bill Simmons and crew break down highly rewatchable movies and assign fun awards such as “Who won the movie?” and toss around essential questions such as, “Would this movie have been better with Wayne Jenkins from We Own This City, Steve Buscemi, Danny Trejo, or Michael K. Williams?”
One of the very best episodes is about, you guessed it, Top Gun, and involves Simmons, Chris Ryan, Mallory Rubin, and Jason Concepcion (who has since moved on to work for Crooked Media).
I have not yet seen the long-awaited sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, but I will when I get the chance. People… seem to dig it!
Personal stuff that’s somehow related to Top Gun – Motion Picture Soundtrack
If you grew up during the 1980s in the U.S., Top Gun was a huge deal. Even if you didn’t like it (which, for the record, I do) you could not escape it.
Some scattered memories from my childhood:
- I recall two kids in my school getting made fun of mercilessly for nicknaming themselves Iceman and Maverick (who were of course the characters in the movie performed by Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise, respectively). Growing up on Long Island, New York wasn’t always the easiest thing to do.
- I assumed that Iron Eagle came out after Top Gun to cash in on the wave of interest in fighter plane and dog fighting movies, Cold War-style, but interestingly Iron Eagle came out about five months earlier, in January 1986. That movie also has a pretty fantastic soundtrack that features one of Queen’s very best songs, “One Vision.”
- I’m pretty sure that I drunkenly sang “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” by The Righteous Brothers, once or twice in college based on the famous scene from Top Gun.
- I definitely would quote the line, “I feel the need… the need for speed,” from the movie because I thought it was cool. Thankfully I escaped getting made fun of mercilessly for this to my knowledge.
- Bomber jackets and aviator sunglasses absolutely saw a mid-‘80s renaissance based on the fashion of Top Gun.
One final more recent-ish memory is that my wife, in laws, and I saw Top Gun at an outdoor showing at a big July 4th event near Pasadena, California some years back. It was a good time.