Sunday, May 12, 2019

"Take My Breath Away" by Berlin

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Oscar Alert!
Song#:  2766
Date:  06/21/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Synthpop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  The movie Top Gun was shaping up to be the hit of the year and its associated soundtrack was on its way to doing just as well with it's first single, Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone," closing in on the Top 10. For the second single, this ballad that was written for the film by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock was selected. Performed by the band Berlin, who reached #23 two years earlier with "No More Words," the song was a slow starter debuting low on the Pop chart. It seemed the tune was going to stumble, but then it started to catch on and proceeded to make a steady climb to the #1 spot. It would also get to #3 at AC and eventually go gold. When awards season arrived, it was a big winner taking both the Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Original Song. Unfortunately, it would be Berlin's first and last time in the Pop Top 10. The distinctive ballad cast a shadow over their career and after one more album, 1986's Count Three and Pray, the band would break up.

ReduxReview:  As a big fan of Berlin, it was great that they were truly hitting the big time with this song. I was happy for them and was hoping it would make their career really take off. Yet I have to admit that I really didn't like the song all that much. The arrangement and Terri Nunn's vocals kept me interested, but I thought the song just kind of droned on and on. It also wasn't the type of material I was used to hearing from the band. A gooey pop love song just wasn't what they were know for and it set up unreal expectations from listeners who loved this tune. When Berlin's LP Count Three and Pray came out with big rockin' tunes such as "Like Flames," folks weren't biting. They wanted the lovely synthpop of "Take My Breath Away." It was great they had a huge Oscar-winning hit, but it really bit them in the ass later. The song was included on Count Three and Pray (one of my fave albums), but it is so out of place. I usually hit the skip button when this track comes on. With the band at a crossroads for direction, thanks to this tune, they split up. I was bummed. Nunn revived the Berlin name for 2002 album Voyeur, but without the band's main songwriter John Crawford, it just didn't work. I love Berlin and I appreciate this song, but it is definitely not a favorite. (P.S.: I saw Berlin in concert twice - once before the hit and once after. It was two of the loudest concerts I had ever seen. They were awesome though.)

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) When Top Gun wrapped up filming, it did not include a love scene between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis. After test audiences felt let down that there was little in the way of romance between the characters, the producers decided to add one in. They needed a song for the scene and Moroder and Whitlock offered up this tune. Moroder originally wanted to get The Motels to do the song. Lead singer Martha Davis did a demo of the song, but that's as far as it went (the demo is available on the band's Anthologyland collection). Davis' take didn't make the grade with the film's producers so Moroder reached out to Berlin with whom he had worked with previously on a couple of tracks from their Love Life album including "No More Words." The band disagreed on whether to record the track or not as it wasn't reflective of their normal sound or material. They decided to give it a shot and ended up with a #1 song. It was a blessing and a curse as the hit would eventually lead to the breakup of the band.  2) In 2004, singer Jessica Simpson would do a cover of this song. It would do well getting to #10 at Dance, #20 Pop, and #23 AC. Like the original, it would be certified gold.


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