I'm not proud of this one, but there it is. I was in the sixth grade, that movie was HUGE, and everyone in my class had that soundtrack on cassette tape - EVERYONE.
What I remember most clearly about that year is my friend Javier standing on his chair, singing along with "Danger Zone" while the rest of our sixth grade class applauded. Seriously. He was famous in our class for that. To this day I have no idea what was so impressive about standing on a chair and lip-syncing Kenny Loggins, but it blew our classmates' minds at the time.
And of course as I say this you can already hear "Danger Zone" in your head. That song was SO popular, and remains so pervasive that it's difficult to escape. I'm not saying it's especially profound or technically accomplished, but it sure does get people pumped.
"Danger Zone" wasn't the only hit on that album. There was also "Playing with the Boys," "Take My Breath Away" and some other hits that predated the movie. Videos for all of these songs were in heavy rotation on MTV, and those of us who hadn't yet seen the movie could always find the songs on that channel.
Personally speaking, I can still admire Kenny Loggins for being the hit-making machine he was. Before Top Gun he also had songs on the Footloose and Caddyshack soundtracks. He was one of those musicians who, for good or bad, will forever be associated with the 80s, and his songs from that time give me an instant sense of nostalgia for people, places and things experienced in my youth.
Writing this more than three decades later, I'm also reminded of something that happened when I was in graduate school. This was back in 2004. Some of us were old enough to remember Top Gun in its glory days, and the movie came up more than once in conversation.
As we tended to do, my friend Andy and I were having a completely unrelated discussion while one of our professors was asking us to come up with a group name for some kind of educational exercise. A girl in our group suggested "Danger Zone." I can't remember why. Then Andy, striving to come up with the most inappropriate title given our early childhood setting, came up with "Playing with the Boys."
Unfortunately I had coffee in my mouth, and I laughed so hard that I spit all over the table. This was especially ironic because we were acting exactly like sixth graders, whispering stupid shit in the back of class while our teacher droned on. Good practice, I guess, for the types of students we would deal with later.
But "Playing with the Boys..." yeah. That song was pretty gay. I guess this isn't surprising, given that Top Gun is one of the most homoerotic films ever. All of the characters are supposedly heterosexual of course, but the camera sure does like to linger on Tom Cruise's ass.
Not that my classmates or I would have seen it that way. Back in 1986 we were too entranced by the soundtrack, and the sound of fighter jets scrambling over the ocean. When you're 11 or 12 that kind of thing is HEAVY, and not just when "Danger Zone" is blasting through a set of movie theater speakers.
Albums That Changed My Life 3: Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band's "Trout Mask Replica"
Albums That Changed My Life 2: Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come's "Journey"
Albums That Changed My Life 1: Conan the Barbarian
Some Other Movies from 1986