Hail to the kings of movie soundtracks

Last Saturday I closed a loop that had started 40 years ago: I saw the movie Footloose.

Yes, I’m talking about that old Kevin Bacon chestnut. I finally got around to seeing it.

You ought to know that the movie as well its soundtrack were huge hits in 1984; the catchy title song, in particular, was all over the radio and TV. It was almost as big as Flashdance from the year before.

As for the movie? I never bothered to watch it because I took it for a musical.

Time passes.

We’re now in 1986. The movie Top Gun comes out. It’s hugely popular and complemented by a killer soundtrack lead by “Danger Zone”, another Kenny Loggins track.

Kenny may have been dubbed the “King of Movie Soundtracks” in the eighties but it was ultimately Giorgio Moroder and Harold Faltermeyer who were pulling the strings.

There’s a pattern emerging here.

Again, I’m not bothered to watch the movie. Tom Cruise irritated me to no end, and knowing that a bunch of Northrop F-5 jets were standing in for fictitious MiG-28s cheapened the premise of a blockbuster movie of its scale – mostly because I was into building model planes at the time. I knew my jet fighters.

I also happened to be a member of a record library, so I borrowed the soundtrack LP. It got copied onto the A-side of a cheap C-90 cassette while the B-side was filled with the Footloose soundtrack because the pairing worked rather well.

Here’s a scan of the insert of the tape I made in 1986:

J-card/insert of "Top Gun & Footloose" soundtrack tape

It’s boring as hell because I didn’t have suitable magazine cutouts available although, in hindsight, if you add the term “crop duster” into the mix then it suddenly makes sense and could apply to both movies.

Fast forward to December 2023. The original Top Gun movie is on Netflix (obviously bolstered by the success of last year’s sequel), so I finally decide to watch what one can only summarise as a testosterone-laden cock-measuring contest of a US Navy recruitment exercise in the typical Jerry Bruckheimer vein. It’s certainly a product of its time.

Then, a few days ago, Footloose popped up on Netflix too. I was reminded of my old tape. Watching the movie became an unfulfilled duty.

The plot, it turns out, is similar to Top Gun — being the familiar cliché-riddled tale of a handsome, rebellious guy with father issues who beats the system/enemy, earns the respect of his peers and eventually gets the girl (except that there’s more dancing).

The story is as American as apple pie, and the girl is always blonde.

The tape may no longer exist but it sure left a to-do list behind.

And now, we can close this loop in the space-time continuum.

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