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The Real Reason Lady Gaga’s New Song Replaced ‘Take My Breath Away’ In Top Gun: Maverick, According To The Director

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Those who took the time to see Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick over the holiday weekend – and based on the box office results, it was a lot of you – know that the sequel opened with two very familiar pieces of music. The first was the official Top Gun theme, composed by Harold Faltermeyer. And then, once the jets begin to take off from the decks of the aircraft carrier, Kenny Loggins’ hit song “Danger Zone” kicks in. Immediately, we’re right back into the late 1980s, pumping our fists and shouting for Maverick to take to the skies and take down a faceless enemy. But if you also wanted to hear the very famous love song from 1987’s Top Gun, “Take My Breath Away,” it didn’t appear… but for good reason. 

In place of the Berlin track “Take My Breath Away,” Top Gun: Maverick relies on a brand new track from Lady Gaga. It’s a beautiful and emotional song, and one that Tom Cruise says became the beating heart of the sequel. But Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski had yet another reason for not bringing “Take My Breath Away” back for the 2022 movie, and told CinemaBlend’s ReelBlend podcast:

Take My Breath Away is an incredible song, but it's really connected with that relationship (between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis), you know? So for Maverick and Penny, we needed something new. Lady Gaga wrote this song for us that, like you said, from the first time I heard it, I was like, ‘Well, this is just a classic song. It's got a great melody.’ And when Hans Zimmer heard it, he was like, ‘I can build the love theme of the movie off this.’ That's why you see Lady Gaga has a credit with Hans and Harold (Faltermeyer) at the beginning, because that song became the melody for the love theme used orchestrally throughout the film.

That makes so much sense. The Berlin track is definitely associated with Maverick and Charlie (Kelly McGillis), mainly because the music video created for the tune heavily featured footage from Top Gun, helping to make the movie and the song more popular.

But Joseph Kosinski has already given the reasons why McGillis and co-star Meg Ryan didn’t return for the sequel, and so taking it the extra step, it makes sense that the musical cue associated with McGillis’ character Charlie would be dropped in favor of Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand.” As more people hear the song as part of the movie, Kosinski has talked about the double meaning found in the track’s lyrics, and fans discovered that Lady Gaga only got the part because Tom Cruise fired 21 Pilots, who originally were supposed to work on tunes for the sequel. That’s how the rumor goes, anyway.

If you haven’t yet seen Top Gun: Maverick, try to grab tickets. The reviews have been off the charts positive, and we expect the movie to continue to perform well until Jurassic World: Dominion roars into theaters on June 10. Keep track of that and all of the 2022 upcoming movies by relying on our up-to-date chart of planned openings.

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.