As one of the most famous dance scenes of all time, it’s hard to imagine the final scene of Footloose without remembering Kenny Loggins’ hit of the same name. The 1980s dance film was shot at the peak of Loggins’ career in 1984 and, like Loggins’ “Danger Zone”, later became synonymous with Top Gun, as did Loggins’ title track “Footloose” with Footloose. Viewers, however, may be surprised to learn that it was another famous song used entirely for filming this scene.
In Loggins’ recently released memoir, “Still Fine,” the singer recalls what led to the creation of his hit Footloose. His song “I’m Alright” for the 1980 film “Caddyshack” had already attracted deserved attention to him, and the singer (best known at that time for soft rock adult ballads) really wanted to jump to another soundtrack. Initially, Loggins believed that his next big hit was destined to be the title song to another cult dance film of the 1980s, The Flash Dance. However, he was unable to perform his mega-hit song starring Jennifer Beals of The L Word after falling off stage during his tour and breaking his ribs. Disappointed, he jumped at the chance to claim a spot on the Footloose soundtrack.
They originally intended to cut the “Footloose” demo during the tour, but Loggins’ injury made that impossible. Concerned that he would have to lose another hit, Loggins suggested using Chuck Berry’s hit song “Johnny B. Goode” in the film for the filming of the final Footloose scene, stating that Berry’s song was perfect for the tempo. And while Berry’s swing, guitar track succeeded in setting the mood, it wasn’t the perfect match that Loggins promised.
“It wasn’t as easy as I first thought,” Loggins admits in “Still OK” (via Vulture). The problem was that Chuck Berry’s 1958 hit “Johnny B. Goode” (which was also widely used in “Back to the Future”) was recorded before the use of click tracks and, therefore, was not exactly in tempo. “We needed every note to match the beat exactly,” Loggins continues. make sure the rhythms were absolutely metronomic.”
Such problems are probably the reason that most of the dance scenes in films up to that time were shot without music at all. This made it easy to cut the footage in the post-processing stage according to the tempo of the chosen song; however, it also led to what Loggins calls “zombie shuffling”, when the actors dance awkwardly and lack inspiration. So while Loggins’ mistake undoubtedly led to problematic post-production, Chuck Berry’s use of “Johnny B. Goode” was still surprisingly perfect for Kevin Bacon’s “Free.” the iconic final scene of the film, so the actors were also thrilled to be dancing to real (if not mechanically enhanced) music.