Top Gun’s ‘Danger Zone’ and 8 more iconic songs that helped define classic 1980s films

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Get ready to take-off on another high-flying adventure when Top Gun: Maverick soars into Cineworld on 23rd December.

More than 34 years after the Oscar-winning Top Gun hit cinemas, the sequel will see Tom Cruise reprise his role as hot-shot aviator Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Now a test pilot for the Navy, Maverick finds himself training a new batch of Top Gun graduates, one of whom is Bradley (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s deceased wingman Goose (Anthony Edwards). The film also sees the return of Val Kilmer as Maverick’s former rival Iceman.

Alongside the characters’ charming chemistry and intense dogfights, part of what made Top Gun special was its soundtrack, which featured Kenny Loggins’ ‘Danger Zone’. A powerhouse rock anthem, this whirlwind track captured the high-energy spirit of the film as well as epitomising the sound of the 1980s. And then, of course, there was Berlin’s Oscar-winning romantic ballad ‘Take My Breath Away’, which summed up the romance between Maverick and Dr. Charley Blackwood (Kelly McGillis).

And good news: Loggins has recorded a brand new version of the track for the upcoming sequel. In anticipation of Top Gun: Maverick, here are eight other classic tracks that defined eighties movies…

1. ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ – Rocky III (1982)

While Bill Conti’s Oscar-nominated fanfare ‘Gonna Fly Now’ from the Rocky franchise is undoubtedly a definitive movie theme in its own right, the soundscape of the boxing series was rocked in its third installment when it featured Survivor’s rock anthem ‘Eye Of The Tiger’. It was written and recorded by the American rock group after Sylvester Stallone approached them.

However, this only came about when Queen reportedly refused to let him use ‘Another One Bites The Dust’. Survivor’s powerful, driving rhythm, accompanied by Dave Bickler’s blistering vocals and underdog lyrics, create a motivational track perfect for any inspirational montage.

2. ‘Ghostbusters’ – Ghostbusters (1984)

Featuring a ridiculously catchy guitar and synth riff that’s impossible to forget, the theme from Ghostbusters is arguably one of the most beloved film songs of all time. Written and performed by Ray Parker Jr, this upbeat, funky tune is a staple of Halloween pop culture that unfortunately lost out on an Oscar to Stevie Wonder’s ‘I Just Called To Say I Loved You’ from Woman in Red.

Surprisingly, the song was also the subject of a lawsuit whereby Parker and distributor Columbia Pictures were sued for plagiarism by ‘Power Of Love’ singers Huey Lewis And The News (which featured in Back to the Future). The reason: it was alleged to bear similarities to their track ‘I Want A New Drug’.

3. ‘Never Ending Story’ – The NeverEnding Story (1984)

You might know this entry best as the adorable duet sang in Stranger Things, but to us this song will forever be synonymous with cult 1980s fantasy The NeverEnding Story. Composed by Italian songwriter Giorgio Moroder and performed by Limahl (Beth Anderson provided backing vocals), this fantastical piece of electronic pop made this magical adventure all the more memorable.

Various cover versions were adapted into different musical genres, including J-pop, pop-punk and metal. Do yourselves a favour: switch off Stranger Things and listen to it again in the proper context.

4. ‘Footloose’ – Footloose (1984)

Another iconic eighties movie track we can thank Kenny Loggins for. Beginning by layering an infectious drum track, bassline and delightful guitar riff, this tune will have you tapping your toes within the first few seconds. Co-written by Loggins alongside the film’s screenwriter Dean Pitchford, this was another deserving song that lost out on Oscar glory to the aforementioned ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’.

Nevertheless, this tune has left filmgoers dancing in their seats decades later during the prom scene of the Kevin Bacon-led Footloose. If ever there was a song that demonstrated why dancing and rock music should never be banned – as was the premise of the film – it’s undoubtedly this film’s title track.

5. ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ – The Breakfast Club (1985)

The entirety of The Breakfast Club’s soundtrack could easily feature on this list, including the likes of Karla DeVito’s ‘We Are Not Alone’ and Wang Chung’s ‘Fire In The Twilight’. However, the film’s most iconic moment belongs to Simple Minds’ ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’.

The Glasgow-based band initially turned down the chance to record the song, on the basis that they hadn’t penned it themselves. Responsibility instead fell to music producer Keith Forsey and guitarist Steve Schiff. Thankfully, after much persuasion, the group accepted. The result was an effortlessly cool track that made for a fitting ending to this feel-good John Hughes favourite. Turn it up and strike your best Judd Nelson pose.

6. ‘Restless Natives’ – Restless Natives (1985)

This Scottish cult flick may have flown under the radar, but if there’s one reason to pay it a visit, it’s the soundtrack. The music is brought to us courtesy of legendary Scottish rock group Big Country, the title track being the highlight. Hearing the soaring guitar melody and vocals of late frontman Stuart Adamson never fails to leave a huge smile on our face as we watch the mask-wearing protagonists race through Edinburgh’s streets with the police in pursuit.

7. 'The Power of Love' – Back to the Future (1985)

Marty McFly's debut time travel adventure is one of the most infectiously entertaining and warm-hearted ever made. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Back to the Future was immediately iconic in a host of ways, from its time-travelling DeLorean to the enjoyably manic performances from Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. The movie's status as an eighties icon was cemented by the Huey Lewis and the News track 'The Power of Love', Oscar-nominated in 1986, and now a firm staple of club nights all over the world.

8. ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ – Dirty Dancing (1987)

Describing this show-stopping duet from romantic classic Dirty Dancing as ‘iconic’ seems like an understatement. In fact, it earned a Grammy, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award, and also swept into the hearts of viewers around the world.

With lyrics penned by Franke Previte (who also wrote ‘Hungry Eyes', which features in the film, too), this track was originally intended to be recorded by disco queen Donna Summer and Joe Esposito. But Summer turned it down it went to Righteous Brothers vocalist Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. Stars Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey showcase terrific chemistry in the film. But this uplifting track carries it over the edge, and into the realm of iconic movie magic.

Top Gun: Maverick is released in Cineworld cinemas on 23rd December. What's your favourite 1980s movie song? Let us know @Cineworld.

Andy Murray is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team. Follow him on Twitter.