When I was a young teen, I liked to listen to synthesizer music, and while back then I didn’t know that many of my favorite tracks were written for movies, they were an early influence that started my appreciation for film music. One of them was Harold Faltermeyer’s “Top Gun Anthem” from the movie Top Gun. When the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, was announced – more than thirty years after the first installment – I was first of all, quite curious how a much older Tom Cruise would be performing, but second of all, what kind of soundtrack the new movie would have. With Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer being involved, the music should be worth talking about.
Even before listening to the music, I was already intrigued for two reasons. First of all, Zimmer is not the only composer for the new Top Gun movie: Faltermeyer has been credited as well and so has world-famous pop star Lady Gaga. Lorne Balfe has also been involved as producer of the score for this movie. The second reason is that as with the music for the original Top Gun, there is no soundtrack album available. At the moment only this ‘Music from’ album exists with only 30 minutes of highlights from the original score together with some songs.
Most of the time, I do not mention songs when I am reviewing a soundtrack, but for Top Gun they are quite important. One song that must be heard in a Top Gun movie is, of course, “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins, which makes a return in the sequel. Also “Great Balls of Fire” can be heard, sung by a different actor in the movie. There are also two new songs that can be found on the album: The first is “I Ain’t Worried” by OneRepublic, and the other is “Hold my Hand” by Lady Gaga.
It should not be a surprise that the iconic “Top Gun Anthem” makes its return on the album. This new version has received a small modern touch-up, but it stays very faithful to the original. An alternative version of the anthem can be heard in “Main Titles (You’ve Been Called Back to Top Gun).” The Lady Gaga song is also important in the movie because its melody is used as the love theme. A wonderful and emotional version of this theme can be found in “Penny Returns (interlude),” and it is the most important theme on the score next to the anthem. In most tracks on this album, you can hear some variation of the love theme or the anthem integrated into the music. One of the highlights for me is “Darkstar,” which is a track with a brilliant musical build-up to a finale that you can find on many Hans Zimmer soundtracks.
The movie from the ‘80s has a typical synth score, but Hans Zimmer et al. opted for a more orchestral version for the Top Gun: Maverick. It results in more emotion in the music, but while it is more orchestral it still keeps the authentic feel of the original Top Gun movie. In that sense, the music is perfect. It also means that the music does not really add something new: It is more Top Gun music. I am a bit disappointed, though, that there is no release of the whole score. While I was watching the movie, I could hear some interesting versions of the themes that are not included on the album. Hopefully, we will see a full soundtrack release in the near future. While there is not much innovation in the music itself, I do think the original motion picture score deserves a full release.
Listen or buy
The highlights are in bold.
- Main Titles (You’ve Been Called Back to Top Gun) (2:30)
- Danger Zone (3:35)
- Darkstar (3:01)
- Great Balls of Fire (live) (1:54)
- You’re Where You Belong / Give ‘em Hell (5:46)
- I Ain’t Worried (2:28)
- Dagger One Is Hit / Time to Let Go (5:06)
- Tally Two / What’s the Plan / F‐14 (4:34)
- The Man, The Legend / Touchdown (3:54)
- Penny Returns (interlude) (2:47)
- Hold My Hand (3:45)
- Top Gun Anthem (2:28)
Total length: 41 minutes
Interscope Records (2022)