The Pop Song Formula Behind ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

So what you're saying is I CAN add the "Mach 10" scene to my HIT workout playlist?
Top Gun Is A Pop Song

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores why Top Gun: Maverick’s best scenes hit like a pop song.

If you haven’t seen Top Gun: Maverick yet, congratulations, you’re a statistical anomaly.

And like all mainstream, popular media, Top Gun: Maverick is an expertly crafted, emotional, and commercial product. This isn’t a slight; far from it. After all, pop culture is popular for a reason.

And much like other popular media, like pop songs, certain scenes in Top Gun: Maverick follow certain patterns. One of them uncannily so.

Early in the film, Tom Cruise‘s titular aerial bad boy is tasked with flying a hypersonic scramjet at Mach 10, or the program will be closed. What follows is a push and pull of tension and release that maps disturbingly well to the well-known call-and-response structure of a pop song (e.x. verse / chorus / verse / chorus / bridge / verse / chorus / outro).

It’s a rollercoaster full of ups, downs, twists, and turns. The essay makes a fascinating taxonomic leap that I personally am going to steal moving forward (and you should too). Pop music is “body music.” Likewise, action movies are “body cinema.” You feel it in your bones even when you know how it’s going to turn out. Of course, Maverick goes Mach 10. The question is how to make that journey as invigorating as possible.

Watch “This Top Gun Scene Is Like A Perfect Pop Song”

Who made this?

This video essay on why a certain scene in Top Gun: Maverick feels like a pop song was created by The Nerdwriter, a.k.a. Evan Puschak. The Nerdwriter covers everything from art to culture, to philosophy and politics. Which is to say, uh, just about anything. You can check out The Nerdwriter’s eclectic back catalog and subscribe to their YouTube channel here. And you can follow Puschak on Twitter here.

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Meg Shields: Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.