Will Lady Gaga help Top Gun: Maverick take everyone’s breath away?

The soundtrack was essential to the original film’s popularity, and the singer’s powerful new ballad, Hold My Hand, could ensure that the long-awaited sequel flies high too

Top Gun: Maverick has been beset by so many delays that, by this point, any fool can anticipate the whole movie beat for beat. There’ll be tons and tons of cutting edge aerial photography, complete with shots of actors getting their faces squished into mush by G-force. There’ll be plenty of knowingly nostalgic nods to the original, too, with old characters making long overdue returns. But now for something few saw coming: the film will also include a Lady Gaga power ballad.

Lady Gaga just shared a new song called Hold My Hand. It is definitely from Top Gun: Maverick because, in the official video, not only are the words “Lady Gaga” written in the official Top Gun font, but there’s also a black and white photograph of Gaga being brought to the point of orgasm by the flank of an aeroplane.

The song itself is pretty good. It’s bombastic and emotional, and includes everything you could possibly want from a Lady Gaga power ballad, in that it sounds like Lady Gaga is shouting it at someone who just toppled over the railings of a cruise ship. “When I wrote this song for Top Gun: Maverick, I didn’t even realise the multiple layers it spanned across the film’s heart, my own psyche, and the nature of the world we’ve been living in,” Gaga wrote on Twitter. Which is fine. But what we don’t know about Hold My Hand is how it will feature in the movie. And, without exaggeration, this could be integral to the movie’s success.

The easy thing to do would be to just chuck it on at the end. So Tom Cruise completes his mission, salutes his superiors who now look upon him with newfound gratitude, pauses by a fighter jet to stroke it as one would a horse, clambers in, takes off and, as the jet speeds off to destinations unknown, the credits roll and Hold My Hand comes on.

However, this would be a profoundly un-Top Gunny thing to do. Because although Top Gun became a phenomenon in 1986 for a variety of reasons – including Tom Cruise’s innate star power and all the zippy shots of fighter jets in action – the main reason was its soundtrack.

The Top Gun soundtrack, at the time, was perfect. It was a flawless mix of overdriven 1980s pop, composed and performed by figures who would come to embody the decade as a whole, and nostalgic oldies for anyone who might find all the synthy vamping a bit too much. So you have Kenny Loggins performing Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock’s Danger Zone. You have Berlin belting out Take My Breath Away. You have Harold Faltermeyer’s deathless Top Gun Anthem. But you also have (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay and You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’. The soundtrack was such a sensation that it went nine times platinum in the US alone and Take My Breath Away won an Oscar.

Key to this was the way that each song was baked into crucial scenes. The entire cast sang You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ at Kelly McGillis. Take My Breath Away is the sex scene. Then there’s Playing with the Boys, which effectively gets its own instantly iconic music video spliced inside the film. It is impossible to separate Top Gun from its soundtrack.

It seems unlikely that the same will be said for the sequel. Trailers for Top Gun: Maverick have so far been soundtracked by Top Gun Anthem, and apparently Danger Zone will also make an appearance. Other than that, it seems as if there will be a straight score composed by Faltermeyer and Hans Zimmer. It’s bound to be good and evocative and everything, but unless a huge amount of current bangers have been hiding in plain sight, it won’t be the same.

That is unless Lady Gaga’s song is used to the best of its ability. If it is woven into the fabric of the film itself, ideally in a scene where Tom Cruise is begging a young recruit to hold his hand to save him from mortal danger, then all might just be saved.

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