A list of Kenny Loggins’ biggest hits begs the question, “would the movie industry have been afloat in the ’80s if Loggins hadn’t been around?” Between 1980 and 1988, Loggins scored four No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, all via soundtrack cuts—notably in Caddyshack, Footloose, and Top Gun.
But, those songs didn’t soar to the top of the charts simply because the films were popular, his music was what a large part of what gave them their edge in the first place. Songs like “Danger Zone” or “Footloose” have become paradigms of their era—instant reminders of all the earnest, schmaltzy ’80s movies that are fodder for nostalgia today.
As an ode to Loggins, we’re going through a few of his best songs —most of which feature in a blockbuster or two. Revisit Loggins’ glimmering catalog with us below.
10. “I’m Alright”
Starting off Loggins’ list of songs that made him the “Soundtrack King” is “I’m Alright.” Notable for its inclusion in the Harold Ramis-helmed Caddyshack, the song reached the Top 10 of the U.S. singles charts in 1980. The lyrics are a tad self-deprecating with Loggins declaring, Nobody worry ’bout me /
Why you got to gimme a fight?
9. “Danger Zone”
In “Danger Zone,” Loggins crafts a call-to-action for idlers the world over. The deeply catchy chorus gives the listener an onus to throw caution to the wind. After all, you’ll never know what you can do / until you get it up as high as you can go. Thanks to its inclusion in Top Gun, “Danger Zone” became a cultural force in 1986. A force that still imposes today.
8. “The Rest of Your Life”
Taking a break from the soundtrack inclusions, “The Rest of Your Life” soared to the top of the charts without a blockbuster to bolster it. From the very opening trill of this song, the listener is hit with a wall of oh-so-’90s gated reverb. “The Rest of Your Life” brought Loggins into a new decade—still at the top of the heap.
7. “Whenever I Call You Friend” feat. Stevie Nicks
Though Melissa Manchester originally recorded this song with Loggins, due to a scheduling conflict Stevie Nicks had to step in as his duet partner. Loggins met Nicks and the rest of Fleetwood Mac after opening for them on the Rumours Tour. For a last-minute switch-out, the duet seems like a perfect fit.
“Forever” was released as the second single from Loggins’ 1985 album, Vox Humana. Though it was originally written for the short film Access All Areas, a significant part of its chart success can be attributed to its use in The Young and the Restless. The slow-burning track often closes out Loggins live shows with a bang.
One of two Loggins cuts from Footloose, the title track lives in the same elite group as “Danger Zone.” It quickly shot to No. 1 after Kevin Bacon shuffled along to its synth-driven rhythm. It’s one of those soundtrack cuts that evolve far beyond the reach of the silver screen.
4. “I’m Free (Heaven Helps the Man)”
The second Loggins song featured on Footloose, “I’m Free (Heaven Helps the Man)” lagged behind the title track, peaking at No. 22. Nevertheless, the synth-driven track has a palpable zeal to it. The track plays during the climax of the film when Bacon’s Ren McCormack finally wins his uphill battle to bring music back to Bomont. It’s the perfect needle drop for Ren to revel in his triumph.
3. “Heart to Heart”
Calling on his ’70s yacht rock era, “Heart to Heart” features a billowy melody that is textbook easy-listening. Don’t turn away / This is our last chance / To touch each other’s heart, Loggins sings in the pre-chorus, begging his significant other to give their relationship one more chance.
2. “Meet Me Halfway”
Loggins wrote this song for the Sylvester Stallone film Over The Top. “Meet Me Halfway” scored Loggins his 13th Top 40 single, peaking at No. 11. Loggins’ co-writer on this song, Tom Whitlock, took inspiration from the film. He said at the time, “The world meets nobody halfway. When you want something, you gotta take it. I took that line and then it somehow evolved into a love song. The song did pretty well, but the movie didn’t. For some reason, the producers decided to market the film around the tough-guy Stallone angle instead of to a family audience. I guess I wasn’t in charge of that!”
1. “This Is It”
“This Is It” landed Loggins on the R&B charts for the first time, where it peaked at No. 19. The track started out as another love song before it shifted into a story about Loggins’ father in the hospital. “He’d given up,” Loggins once told American Songwriter. “He wasn’t thinking in terms of the future, and I was so pissed at him.”
Though the song’s lyrics, are you gonna wait for a sign, your miracle? / Stand up and fight, didn’t move his father, Loggins got a letter from a girl who had recently gotten out of the hospital and used the song as a source of hope. “That means so much more to me. She hadn’t read the press about my father or anything. All she knew was that the song was on the nose for her, exactly what Michael and I intended. That makes you feel like you’re doing something important,” he said.
(Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)