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Can Gaga's 'Top Gun' Anthem Live Up to 1986?

With the release of the new Lady Gaga song “Hold My Hand” we see her embark on the movie soundtrack mission once again, only this time the mission is a bit more literal, as it’s for the soundtrack to the Top Gun: Maverick sequel (yes, I made that joke) that is set to release later this year. To start, I think the song is good, her vocals are the star and she crushes it, showing the strength she has at the most critical moments, emotions roaring. The production is not my favorite, an attempt at an 80s diva ballad sprinkle with synth-ie keys, an overdramatic guitar and a drummer from The Blueman Group (not really) but I guess it does make sense to go for that sound when it’s for a song for a movie from the 80s. I’m sure the song will be a hit regardless, it’s Lady Gaga after all, possibly the musician with the highest approval rating at the moment and, as it’s her film song follow up to the Academy Award winning “Shallow”, it’s well deserved.

When the original Top Gun came out in came out in 1986, the soundtrack was a massive hit, selling 9 million copies, assumingly on the backs of it’s two massive hits, Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” and Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” both written by Giorgio Moroder. This was a fact that I’d forgotten until reading about the new Gaga single and having it positioned to me in this way made me wonder if this new single could possibly live up to these songs from the first movie. Sure, I cannot tell you the last time I threw on “Danger Zone” or “Take My Breath Away” because in 2022 it could only really be done in an ironical sense. They are the definition of 80s jams but there is no denying their place in history as hits. They are the kind of songs that were so big (“Danger Zone” reaching number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and “Take My Breath Away” going on to win an Oscar) that they are ingrained in society and really it would be unfair to expect any soundtrack song to live up to that standard. While Lady Gaga’s career may far exceed that of both Kenny Loggins and Berlin combined, I’m not sure this song will surpass the monumental footprint the initial movie’s soundtrack laid out, as it’s surely one of the most popular movie soundtracks of all time. Some of this is also probably out of Gaga’s hands, the success of the song will largely hinge on the movie, both in how it’s used in the movie and how successful it is (I have trouble thinking this sequel will be as good as the original) and if someone knows how to make a hits, it’s Lady Gaga, but will “Hold My Hand” live on in culture the way the “Danger Zone” and “Take My Breath Away” have, I doubt it.

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