For better or worse, few songs have come to epitomize a decade to the extent that Danger Zone has come to epitomize the 1980s.
The song was originally written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock for the Top Gun soundtrack. When the film’s producers heard the demo (performed by background singer Joe Pizzulo), they knew they wanted the song but they also knew they wanted it to be performed by a big name artist.
The problem was that no one wanted to perform it.
Byran Adams thought that the song and its use in the film would glorify war. (He wasn’t wrong.)
Corey Hart, best known for Sunglasses at Night, turned down the opportunity because he only wanted to record songs that he had written.
REO Speedwagon (!) declined an offer when they were informed that they wouldn’t be allowed to contribute any other songs to the soundtrack.
Toto came close to recording the song but their lawyers couldn’t come to an agreement with the production’s lawyers. (Toto’s song, Only You, was also originally written for the film but was rejected in favor of Take My Breath Away.)
In the end, it was Kenny Loggins who finally agreed to perform the song and the rest, as they say, is history. Not only was the film a huge hit but it spawned one of the best-selling soundtracks of the 1980s. Fueled by the film’s success, Danger Zone reached the #2 spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
As for the video, it was directed by Tony Scott (who, of course, also directed Top Gun). The video mixes footage from the film with shots of Kenny Loggins deep in thought, which makes it appear that Loggins simply can’t stop thinking about the first time that Maverick and Goose met Charlie. This video has been called “the most effective recruiting poster ever produced.”
For me, though, Danger Zone will always be the song that I used to hear while listening to the classic rock station in Los Santos.