#16 – Kenny Loggins – “This Is It” – (1979)

The 1970s gave us soft rock. And Kenny Loggins was one of the flag-carriers. This top 15 hit (#11) is a fine example of late-70s, early-80s adult contemporary. And one reason is because it featured un-credited backing vocals from the (to me) definitive voice of 70s/80s soft rock: Michael McDonald. It also won Loggins a Grammy. This kind of music always makes me happy and reminds me of being a kid.

USA for Africa – “We are the World” – (1985)

Charity singles. The U.K. goes crazy for them and has them all the time. It doesn’t work so well here in the U.S. Perhaps it’s because this track. I’m not sure. It’s definitely cheesy and a part of 1980s culture. This was a group of singers who came together to perform a song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and sell it to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. The whole thing was inspired by Band Aid (from the U.K.). It ended up raising $100 million and selling over 20 million copies (impressive). Annoyingly, USA for Africa stands for “United Support of Artists for Africa” and that’s because a few of the artists weren’t American. Here’s everyone other than Jackson and Richie who were involved: Dan Aykroyd, Harry Belafonte, Lindsey Buckingham, Kim Carnes, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Sheila E., Bob Geldof (who was responsible for Band Aid), both Hall and Oates, James Ingram, Jackie Jackson, La Toya Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Randy Jackson (the one from the Jackson 5… not the one from American Idol), Tito Jackson, Al Jarreau, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis and the News (the whole band), Kenny Loggins, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, Jeffrey Osborne, Steve Perry, all three Pointer Sisters, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, and Stevie Wonder. Yeah, pretty impressive. Look at how many of those people are respectable and/or legendary (many of them) and think about how that would play out today. Do we really need Bieber and Kesha and company coming together for charity? That’s the exact reason charity singles don’t work in the U.S. anymore. The current crop of North American are trash. Also: not how hilariously out of place Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan sound here.

Kenny Loggins – “Footloose” – (1984)

If you don’t love this song you should probably see a doctor. Kenny Loggins had a real knack for recording catchy film songs in the 80s – this was a #1. It’s basically just him encouraging you to “cut footloose.” Whenever I hear it I picture Kevin Bacon doing something like this. This song has since popped up everywhere and was the inspiration for “Brett’s Angry Dance” on Flight of the Conchords.

#19 – Kenny Loggins – “Danger Zone” – (1986)

Top Gun had a pretty good soundtrack, and with all due respect to Berlin, this was the best song from it. I love the images that appear in my mind whenever I hear this. F-14 Tomcats launching off the end of an aircraft carrier somewhere in the south Pacific during the 1980s. Maverick and Goose high-fiving on the mutual feeling they have of the need for speed. Kenny Loggins is throwing some kick ass vocals out on this track too. It was one of his last big hits (if not the last). It sucks too because during the 80s he was almost bound to doing theme songs – ahem, Footloose. This song proved he still had it. Apparently Bryan Adams rejected doing this song because of its ridiculous patriotism. Well Bryan Adams is Canadian, so whatever, I’m glad Kenny got it.

#21 – Kenny Loggins – “Celebrate Me Home” – (1977)

This isn’t technically a Christmas song, but that’s the only time it’s ever played on the radio – which is unfortunate because this song is good. It kind of reminds me of “River” by Joni Micthell, in that it’s pretty much a Christmas song – without being blatantly about Christmas. Loggins’ song is better though.