Kenny Loggins Was Far From First Choice to Sing ‘Danger Zone’
It can be difficult to divorce movie soundtrack songs from the artists who sing them after they become a staple of the pop culture lexicon. But with outside songwriters crafting these blockbuster hits and farming them out to superstar musicians, the artists who end up performing them often aren't the first choice, as Kenny Loggins recently reminded reporters at the Top Gun: Maverick premiere.
Loggins famously lent his voice to "Danger Zone," the pop-rock smash from the original Top Gun in 1986 that peaked at No. 2 behind Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer." The song, which reappears in the long-gestating Top Gun: Maverick, became one of the biggest hits of Loggins' career, though he was far from the first choice to sing it.
"There were supposed to be three or four other acts on the hook before me, and they all dropped out," Loggins said earlier this month at the Top Gun: Maverick global premiere. "I know Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon said, 'I dropped out 'cause the notes were too high.' He couldn't hit the high notes. So you never know why somebody's gonna be in or out."
Watch Kenny Loggins' 'Danger Zone' Video
In a separate interview, Loggins dropped several other names that had supposedly been in the running to perform the iconic song. "Well, it's urban legend now. A bunch of people claim it," he explained. "Mickey Thomas claims it for Jefferson Starship. Toto claims it. ... REO Speedwagon claimed it, but I got it."
Songwriters Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock also allegedly approached Bryan Adams and Corey Hart to perform the song, though neither option panned out. During his red carpet interview, Loggins attributed the song's success to Moroder and explained that he hardly made any changes when he performed it.
"'Danger Zone' was primarily written by Giorgio Moroder, who was definitely writing to the visuals," he said. "So the whole opening of the movie with the aircraft carrier scenes, he'd already seen it. He got the tempo, he got the melodic ideas from that. And then I came in, I did a little tweaking at the last minute and sang the song, really, at the 11th hour, 'cause the people they thought they had recording it dropped out."
Loggins became known as "The King of the Movie Soundtrack" in the '80s thanks to "Danger Zone," the Top 10 Caddyshack hit "I'm Alright" and the chart-topping title track from Footloose, which earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. (Last year, he compiled all his soundtrack hits onto a Record Store Day exclusive release titled At the Movies.) When asked whether he prefers "Danger Zone" or "Footloose," Loggins told a reporter, "Today, it's definitely 'Danger Zone,' and you won't get me to say anything else."