With anticipation sky-high for “Top Gun: Maverick,” which hits theaters on May 27, Lady Gaga takes flight on “Hold My Hand,” the new single from the movie’s soundtrack.
But when Berlin recorded “Take My Breath Away” — the Oscar-winning smash that sent the hearts of Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis soaring in the original 1986 film — the band was hardly in Gaga’s superstar stratosphere.
“We got really lucky because at the time we were nothing,” Terri Nunn, lead singer of Berlin, told The Post. “We had not had a hit at all. We were an underground band.”
But while working with Giorgio Moroder — the legendary producer of “Take My Breath Away” — on some other material, Nunn and Berlin got their big break. “He approached a bunch of other female artists who were way bigger than me and Berlin, and a few of them did demos, but the [‘Top Gun’] producers didn’t like them,” said Nunn. “So finally, I got a shot at it. And they loved it.”
Berlin in its electro-pop heyday circa the 1980s.Michael Ochs Archives
Thirty-six years after Berlin’s synth-pop swooner was released, Nunn can hear echoes of the tune in the retro-’80s power balladry of Gaga’s “Hold My Hand,” which dropped earlier this week.
“What I love about it is that nod to Giorgio Moroder’s production, because the drums are so big and reverbed,” she said, noting that Gaga was the perfect singer to pilot a “Top Gun” tune. “She’s a great writer, she’s a great artist. If they can get her to do it, yeah, it’s a good choice.”
After Nunn breathed a cool sensuality into Berlin’s 1986 chart-topper, the tune — co-written by Moroder and Tom Whitlock — followed Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” as the second hit single from the blockbuster “Top Gun” soundtrack. But after “Take My Breath Away” was nominated for Best Original Song at the 1987 Oscars, Nunn declined an offer to perform the truncated tune as part of a medley at the Academy Awards.
Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” hit home as the romantic theme song for Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise in the original “Top Gun.”Getty Images
“I said, ‘Well, no, because if I can’t do the whole song, I’m not doing it,’ ” said Nunn, who was on tour with Berlin when Lou Rawls and Melba Moore performed her song instead. “That actual night I watched the Oscars on television in Taiwan. And we won.”
To this day, Nunn regrets that decision. “I was just young and dumb,” she said. “That’s just stupid.”
After Berlin — which, despite its name, is actually a Los Angeles-based band — broke up at the end of the ’80s, the group reunited in 1998, and they’ve been recording and touring ever since. In fact, after a pandemic pause, the group is now back on the road in support of its latest album, 2019’s “Transcendance.”
Terri Nunn’s band Berlin released its latest album, “Transcendance,” in 2019.Louis Rodiger
And while after all this time, Nunn, 62, has never gotten the chance to meet “Top Gun” star Cruise, she did have an emotional encounter with McGillis about 10 years ago.
“I met Kelly McGillis in Italy doing [an event], honoring great songs from movies,” she said. “And she cried when we met. She said, ‘I just can’t tell you what that song means to me.’ She was very emotional about it. So it was great to meet her, finally.”