Kenny Loggins rides into the 'Danger Zone' once more (and he can still hit those high notes)

Mikael Wood, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Kenny Loggins had already established himself as a pop star — first as half of the rootsy Loggins & Messina, then as a yacht-rocking solo act — by the time he became the unofficial king of the movie soundtrack in the early 1980s. There was “I’m Alright,” from “Caddyshack.” There was the title track from “Footloose.” And of course there was 1986’s “Danger Zone,” the fighter-jet-inspired anthem from “Top Gun” that hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and helped propel the film’s soundtrack to sales of more than 9 million copies.

This week “Danger Zone,” which was composed and produced by disco pioneer Giorgio Moroder with lyricist Tom Whitlock, returns to the big screen as part of “Top Gun: Maverick,” the long-delayed sequel starring Tom Cruise in an older version of one of his most iconic roles. For Loggins, 74, the movie comes as he’s preparing to release a memoir, “Still Alright,” and reunite with Jim Messina for two gigs at the Hollywood Bowl on July 15 and 16. He called the other day to remember revving up his engine and listening to her howling roar.

Q: Were you up on Giorgio Moroder’s music before you did “Danger Zone” together?

A: No. He was a really strong writer — a force in that era — but I didn’t know it until we got into “Top Gun.” In my world, Giorgio was well known only in that he used the Yamaha DX7 right out of the box. This was one of the first super-popular synthesizers in pop music, and all the sounds he used were stock sounds that came with it. We were all trying to create custom sounds, something unique, and he just plugged it in and made a s—load of hit records.

Q: What’s that say about him from a musician’s perspective?

A: That I was taking too long and spending too much money.


Q: It’s well known at this point that a number of other singers were in line to do “Danger Zone” before you.

A: Kevin [Cronin of REO Speedwagon] told me he passed because the high notes were too high for his voice. I was lucky that I could still hit those notes back then. I have a feeling that Mickey Thomas from Starship was probably the first choice. He just had that sort of white R&B/rock voice — and all the high notes in the world. But I think the lawyers couldn’t come to terms on it, and that’s why it went up for grabs.

Q: Can you hit the high notes now?

A: I can hit them now. I’ve been studying with a vocal coach for over a year to make sure I’m singing in a way that doesn’t tear my voice up. I had to relearn how to sing in a bel canto form that gets the sound off the vocal cords and up above it. As you get older, your vocal cords get drier. Things atrophy. By 2020 I couldn’t even hit the high note in “Danny’s Song.”


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