When you’ve got a bit of a breather between deadlines and you realise it’s 15 years to the day since High School Musical came out, what else are you gonna do but rank all the songs from the three movies?
Please also enjoy this picture of me making a tit of myself in an AmDram version of the stage show in 2007; playing the school radio announcer(!) who got together with Kelsi at the end. Excellent white cargo trousers there!
All right let’s get this over with:
31. Senior Year Spring Musical
I haven’t seen the third movie in well over a decade – was this a good set-piece? I assume it was a good set-piece. It doesn’t feel like a mUsIcAl nUMbEr you’d go out of your way to listen to though, does it?
30. We’re All In This Together (Graduation Mix)
This John Lewisification of a God-tier HSM1 bop functioned nicely as a fitting end to the whole trilogy, but that’s basically where its value ends.
29. When There Was Me And You
Gabriella’s angstballads got substantially better in the second two films; but Christ this one from the original is BORING AS HELL.
28. Now Or Never
Completely forgot this existed until I was listening to the whole playlist this morning. Other songs in the series covered this sort of territory much better.
27. What I’ve Been Looking For (Reprise)
You know when straight-faced singer-songwriters take a lively pop song and think they’re adding gravitas by stripping out all the fun and doing their own ~earnest version? There’s big that energy here.
Catchy and fun, but Sharpay has better elsewhere.
25. Just Wanna Be With You
Not without merit, but probably the weakest of the trilogy’s rousing torch songs. Ashley Tisdale chewing the hell out of the scenery is never a bad thing.
24. High School Musical
23. Bop To The Top
If you decide that the attempt at Latin-pop is meant to be cringey coming from two rich white kids, it fits these particular characters perfectly.
22. You Are The Music In Me (Troy And Gabriella version)
This sounds like the sort of thing Gary Barlow would write for a charity single, you know?
21. I Want It All
An excellent Sharpaybanger. Ambition is good, kids!
20. Work This Out
It’s always fun when the whole ensemble gets the chance to join in; and though this is no Stick To The Status Quo, it’s still a serviceable bop in an Early Learning Centre Does N*Sync sort of way.
19. Start of Something New
Remember the earnest lipsyncery from Zac Efron to this? Divine! As a pace-setter for the whole trilogy, it sets up shop very well indeed.
It’s no Getcha Head In The Game or Bet On It, but for the sheer emoting from Troy, it still goes off.
17. A Night To Remember
I’m gonna have “getting ready! Get, g-getting ready!” in my head for several days. This feels like a proper, stagey, whole-company ~showtune, doesn’t it?
16. What Time Is It?
15. You Are The Music In Me (Sharpay version)
Why is there ANY doubt that this is the superior version?!
14. Right Here, Right Now
After they spent much of HSM2 at irritating odds, there was plenty of Troy and Gabriella lovey-doveyness in the threequel – and this song is a really endearing little midtempo treat.
13. I Don’t Dance
Big tune – and proof that supporting characters like Chad and Ryan could easily have been given more.
12. Stick To The Status Quo
Obviously the message of the song (stay in your lane! Don’t do uncool things!) is purposefully not correct, but WHAT a MOMENT. Invented crème brûlée!
11. Walk Away
Why can I imagine someone performing this on Fame Academy in the early 2000s?
10. Can I Have This Dance
Released by an actual popstar (no offence, Vanessa) at around the same time, this could have been a legit hit. Wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the first Jordin Sparks album, come to think of it!
9. The Boys Are Back
Lads lads lads.
8. Breaking Free
The song that helped make the franchise a chart behemoth as well as a TV/box office monster, Breaking Free takes square, unashamed aim at the tween demographic and nails it. But how did we ever buy that this was Zac Efron’s voice?!
7. All For One
The finale song from HSM2, this is a big whole-cast tune with one of the series’ best choruses. Looks like it would have been fun to film, too.
HEAR ME OUT: I think this is way better than Breaking Free. Maybe it’s just that it wasn’t overplayed into oblivion, or maybe it’s just the slightly more satisfying melodies; but this is easily my pick for the best end-of-movie showstopper in the trilogy.
5. Bet On It
A big go-get-’em banger in which Troy prances round a golf course all up in his feelings, this was one of the big highlights of the second film. The DRAMA! The EMOTION! The FACIAL EXPRESSIONS!
4. What I’ve Been Looking For
That Ryan and Sharpay didn’t easily win the casting call with this rendition is frankly a stain on Ms Darbus’s otherwise impeccable record.
3. Get’cha Head In The Game
Is the use of basketballs and shoe squeaks in the actual production ingenius, or terrible? We may never know, but goddamn, there’s no denying the sheer catchiness.
2. Gotta Go My Own Way
Gabriella’s ballads have a bad rep, and sure – When There Was Me And You is a snooze! But this? This is a certified bop, whether taken as part of a film soundtrack or as a standalone pop song (at least if you get rid of the “*exhale* Troy, listen” bits). Gabriella as a character was relegated to sitting around moaning throughout much of the second film, but this epic tune at least made it slightly worth it.
1. We’re All In This Together
CONFIRMED: the characters are all left-leaning comrades! 🌹