The band Toto was originally intended to perform the track, but legal conflicts between the producers of Top Gun and the band's lawyers prevented this.
Bryan Adams was approached to allow his song "Only the Strong Survive" on the soundtrack and perform "Danger Zone", but Adams refused any involvement, feeling that the film glorified war and he did not want any of his work linked to it.
REO Speedwagon were also approached to perform "Danger Zone", but the group declined due to not being allowed to contribute any of their own compositions to the soundtrack.
Eventually, the film producers agreed that "Danger Zone" would be recorded and performed by Kenny Loggins.
Dann Huff, lead singer and guitarist of the 1980shard rock group Giant, played guitar on the song. The bass line is performed on a Yamaha DX7 synthesizer, with the drums being provided by a LinnDrum drum machine, both instruments extensively used in 1980s pop music. A tenor saxophone is added near the end of the song.
A music video was released in May 1986 to promote the single. The video was directed by Tony Scott and featured footage of Loggins singing, as well as clips from the film Top Gun, which Scott also directed.
According to the MuchMusic network's program Pop-Up Video, the U.S. Navy described this video as "the most effective recruiting poster ever produced."
The animated comedy series Archer features a running joke involving the song, with the title character frequently saying "Call Kenny Loggins, 'cause you're in the danger zone." Loggins would later appear as himself in the fifth season episode "Baby Shower," performing a country version of the song with Cheryl Tunt.
Ann Perkins and Chris Traeger of Parks and Recreation sang the song in a drunken karaoke duet in the second season of the show.
The song appears on the in-game radio station "Los Santos Rock Radio" in the re-release of Grand Theft Auto V which is presented by Kenny Loggins himself, who lent his voice as the DJ. The song's presence on Top Gun is referenced in a mission description. Furthermore included in the Heists update for Grand Theft Auto Online is a mission in which players have to steal a jump jet from an aircraft carrier. Once the jet is stolen all players have to defend the jump jet with their stolen fighter jets against opposing fighter jets. After the enemy jets have been taken down the song will automatically start playing on the radio (in the re-released version only). This is another reference to the Top Gun movie.
The song is parodied by YouTube channel and members of The Yogscast, Hat Films, for the theme of their GTA V based show, Stunt Lads
In the Family Guy episode "Chris, Brian and Stewie's Excellent Adventure," members of the orchestra on board the R.M.S. Titanic play the song when the ship is sinking, due to the fact Stewie gave them the sheet music to the song earlier.