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Will the soundtrack to 'Top Gun: Maverick' stack up against the original?

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Tom Cruise made a sequel to "Top Gun." And you know where that leads - the danger zone. I'm avoiding singing it, but it's in your head. Tim Greiving reports on the classic soundtrack.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

TIM GREIVING, BYLINE: The new "Top Gun: Maverick" opens the exact same way as the old "Top Gun." Fighter jets line up on an aircraft carrier, accompanied by the tolling of synthesized bells and an accelerating pop heartbeat by composer Harold Faltermeyer. Then the jets take off and push the throttle forward into the danger zone.

(SOUNDBITE OF KENNY LOGGINS SONG, "DANGER ZONE")

KENNY LOGGINS: It's iconic. It's just part of that era. It conjures up memories of younger days for all of us.

GREIVING: Kenny Loggins was invited to a cattle call for singers and songwriters at a screening room on the Paramount lot in 1986. "Top Gun" producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson had developed a very successful formula - commissioning hit songs paired with MTV-style filmmaking, most recently at the time in "Flashdance." Every pop artist in town wanted to take their next ride.

LOGGINS: And I think everybody was excited about that opening scene with the planes going off the aircraft carrier. But when the volleyball scene came on, I said, we're going to write for this; no one else is going to write for this scene.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PLAYING WITH THE BOYS")

LOGGINS: (Singing) Playing, playing with the boys. Staying, playing with the boys.

GREIVING: Most of the film's songs had already been written by Simpson and Bruckheimer's go-to composer Giorgio Moroder, the disco king who ruled Hollywood in the early '80s with songs like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLASHDANCE... WHAT A FEELING")

IRENE CARA: (Singing) What a feeling. Keep believing.

GREIVING: Moroder wrote "Danger Zone" with lyricist Tom Whitlock, who just prior had been Moroder's gofer who looked after his Ferrari. At the last minute, Kenny Loggins was invited to sing the macho opening number, and he took inspiration for the vocal from a surprising source - Tina Turner.

LOGGINS: She was very aggressive for an R&B singer that had moved over into a rock 'n' roll direction.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DANGER ZONE")

LOGGINS: (Singing) Highway to the Danger Zone. Take you right into the Danger Zone.

GREIVING: "Danger Zone" took off - not just in the movie, but it became a No. 2 hit and a mainstay in Loggins' career. There were pros and cons about it being so huge.

LOGGINS: It almost got stuck to that first Gulf War. But on the other hand, years later when I brought it back into my show, it had achieved an iconic status that I didn't see coming. We'll see how that holds through in "Maverick." It must be working because Tom wouldn't leave it in if it wasn't.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DANGER ZONE")

LOGGINS: (Singing) Highway to the Danger Zone.

GREIVING: The other big song in "Top Gun" was a love ballad for Maverick and his flight instructor, played by Kelly McGillis. Moroder and Whitlock wrote a melancholy slow-jam and had a few different female vocalists try it out. One of them was Terri Nunn from the band Berlin.

TERRI NUNN: The original song didn't work for me as a romantic song. The demo kind of went (singing) watching every motion in this foolish lover's game.

I'm listening to this going, I'm not getting a buzz from this. I don't feel romantic. So I took the - his melodies and made them longer. (Singing) Watching every motion in this foolish lover's game.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAKE MY BREATH AWAY")

BERLIN: (Singing) On this endless ocean, finally, lovers know no shame. Turning and returning to some secret place inside.

GREIVING: The song was used in multiple places throughout the movie, shot to No. 1 on the charts and won an Oscar. That's a lot to live up to for the new film, which features a romantic ballad by Lady Gaga.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOLD MY HAND")

LADY GAGA: (Singing) So cry tonight, but don't you let go of my hand. You can cry every last tear.

GREIVING: Time will tell if it takes our breath away.

For NPR News, I'm Tim Greiving.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOLD MY HAND")

LADY GAGA: (Singing) Promise you'll just hold my hand. Hold my hand. Hold my... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.