A boy and a girl meet during summer vacation and fall in love. When the new school year begins, they unexpectedly find themselves as part of the same class. This narrative has been explored in thousands of teen movies throughout the history of cinema, yet one of the most successful to do this was High School Musicalthe Disney franchise that launched its actors to stardom, grossed millions of dollars, and paved the way for all the other teen productions that would follow.
The first movie of this saga High School Musical was released on The Disney Channel in 2006, and it followed the love story between Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens), two young teenagers from different backgrounds who had to face their loved ones in order to pursue their romance and fulfill their dream of performing together. The cast also featured Ashley Tisdale as the fabulous Sharpay Evans, Lucas Grabeel as Ryan Evans, Sharpay’s equally talented brother, and Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman as Troy and Gabriella’s best friends, respectively. This first film was such a hit that in 2007 and 2008 two more movies were released: High School Musical 2again on The Disney Channel, and High School Musical 3: Senior Year, theatrically. All three films were full of common clichés and, more than once, fell into the obvious. As a matter of fact, critics were not impressed by the films, but the audience was: the first movie was watched by more than 100 million viewers, and, according to Business Insider, Senior Year grossed over $ 250 million worldwide.
One of the greatest attractions of these movies was definitely their songs and musical numbers, many of them highly produced, which kept certain verses present in the audience’s memory even 16 years after the premiere. Their success was so significant that they not only recorded albums of each movie’s soundtrack, but also released a documentary and even a live tour through more than 40 countries. This article features the best songs from the High School Musical franchise, ranked.
8 Start of Something New
This song was the opening number of High School Musical, not just because it was the first song in the entire film, but also the one that first brought the main characters together. Troy and Gabriella were both enjoying a night of karaoke during their vacation. They had never met each other, yet fate brought them together to perform a great rendition of “Start Of Something New.” Serendipitously, this moment really was the start of something new for them: their chemistry became undeniable, and once they discovered that they attended the same school, their relationship just kept growing.
7 Bet On It
In High School Musical 2, we find Troy feeling extremely upset and confused. His summer vacation did not go as he expected: he accepted a job alongside Gabriella and their friends to have fun as a group, but when Sharpay tempted him with a potential scholarship and granted him a preferential treatment, he inadvertently alienated his friends, which even caused his girlfriend to quit and leave. In this daunting scenario unfolded the song “Bet On It,” in which Troy, backed by probably the best scenery of the entire franchise, sorted out his thoughts and decided which path to follow. This song was a trend on TikTok, with hundreds of users recreating the scene on their nearest golf course.
6 The Boys Are Back
Just like people, friendships evolve through the years. When we are young, we enjoy our friends’ company, inventing thousands of games and adventurous scenarios. As we get older, the importance of the presence of friends shifts: we no longer play pirates or princesses, but we face new situations every day which we want to share. Sometimes those situations are good, sometimes they are not, which is why we turn to our friends for advice. As adults, circumstances change, but one always nostalgically recalls those fun afternoons spent playing with childhood friends. That is why “The Boys Are Back” is a song that really struck a chord with the audience. It’s easy to empathize with Troy and Chad, two friends who, for a little while, forgot about their problems and became children again. It is a musical number that not only transports you back to childhood, but is also visually appealing, with great choreography and even iconic movie references.
5 A Night to Remember
One very interesting thing about many High School Musical songs is that, as mentioned above with Troy and Chad’s duet, it was fairly easy to relate to the situations the characters were going through if one was part of the teenage audience. The same goes for “A Night To Remember” from High School Musical: Senior Year, where we saw the characters getting ready for their prom night in entirely different ways. On the one hand, we saw the girls happy and anxious about what’s to come, deciding between thousands of dresses and hairstyles with high hopes. On the other hand, the boys faced the same situation, but their attitude was different: for them, it was the night of their nightmares.
4 Stick to the Status Quo
This is one of the best songs in the entire High School Musical franchise. “Stick to the Status Quo” is about a teenager’s struggle to fit in with the crowd, while discovering that he has multiple passions that are not considered cool, or at least do not match up with that crowd. When East High discovered that Troy, the Wildcats’ star basketball player, wanted to be a singer, the student body went wild. A few, encouraged by Troy’s situation, decided to unveil their secret passions, like Zeke, who dreamed of being a professional pastry chef and making the best crème brûlée. The vast majority of the students, however, would not accept this situation, nor were they ready for things to change, so they just told them to stick to the stuff they already knew.
High School Musical 2 finally gave the audience what they had been waiting for a long time: a solo performance by Sharpay. “Fabulous” is not the only amazing song of this character. In fact, it is important to mention two very close ones: “I Want It All,” which is one of the best musical numbers of the franchise, and “Bop to the Top” – both iconic songs that reflect not only Sharpay and her talented brother’s desire to succeed, but also their relationship with each other. “Fabulous,” however, focuses entirely on the perfect life Sharpay wished to have. The musical number was no slouch either: beautiful set design, movements choreographed to the tiniest detail, an extremely pink color scheme, not to mention an actual piano in the swimming pool!
2 We’re All in This Together
This is the last song of High School Musical, and it really is a wonderful choice to wrap it up. In “We’re All In This Together,” we saw the entire cast in the school gym singing about friendship, the importance of being together, and showing their love for East High. It is the first song that featured the whole cast, and largely the one that remains in the collective memory of the audience to this day. It is also the best-remembered and, probably, most danced routine of the entire franchise.
1 Breaking Free
The first spot in this ranking goes to a song that has probably been sung thousands of times in karaokes all over the world: “Breaking Free.” Troy and Gabriella’s performance in the school play to the tune of Kelly’s piano was the moment the audience was waiting for during High School Musical. Despite their activities that day – Troy’s basketball game and Gabriella’s academic decathlon – they made it just in time to sing, supported by their friends, who finally understood how important it was for them to fulfill their dream. The couple was able to prove that it was not necessary to abandon one passion in order to pursue another.
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