Ten years ago when High School Musical premiered, what should have been a throwaway made for TV Disney Channel movie ended up becoming a phenomenon among tweens and tweens at heart. As the latter, at the ripe old age of mid 20’s, a trip to Amoeba Music saw me walk out with a cheap Blu Ray copy of High School Musical 2 out of curiosity. From that point on, I was hooked, consuming everything I could as long as it had to do with the East High Wildcats. Because while the idea seems crazy now that we live in a world with such films as Big Hero 6, Wreck It Ralph and Frozen, there was a time when Disney was having a hard time recapturing the magic that many of us grew up with. For many of us however, HSM came the closest in years to replicate those whimsical musicals I grew up with, effectively becoming its own renaissance for a new generation. Without our obsession with East High, there might not have been a Glee, or this renewed interest in the arts in schools, which is an amazing achievement in itself.
This is huge praise, I know. But before you roll your eyes too hard, know that there’s a reason why the ten year anniversary of the first film is being lauded so much. As the franchise that launched the careers of superstars like Zac Efron, and… Zac Efron, these modest musicals have left an undeniable impact on those who fell in love with Troy, Gabriella, Chad, Taylor, Ryan and Sharpay so long ago, mostly thanks to the music featured in the films. To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of its debut, we compiled the top 10 songs from the franchise! But first…
Before we show 0ur East High pride with our main list, two songs that didn’t make the original cuts of the first two movies deserve a shout out. One for being one of the most vocally impressive songs on the entire soundtrack, and the other one for being completely embarrassing, which is quite a feat when you’re a grown man watching HSM.
I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You
This bonus track on the first movie’s soundtrack is one of my favorite songs in the entire series for the the fact that it really shows off how well Lucas Grabeel, (Ryan Evans,) can belt out a tune. Despite Ashley Tisdale, Vanessa Hudgens and the melded hybrid of Zac Efron and alternate Troy voice, Drew Seeley are typically the main focus, it was great to hear Lucas shine in this underrated track.
The one song on the entire soundtrack that could simultaneously make you question your taste in entertainment while annoying the crap out of everyone around you. For this reason, Humuhumu is endearing in a strange way. It’s a dumb song, but try not to laugh at yourself while singing along with Sharpay as Ryan’s frustration continues to boil over. Seriously, try it!
Now, on to the celebration! After painstakingly drilling the soundtrack into my ears and pouring dozens of minutes into deep deliberation, here is the definitive High School Musical song list on Geekscape!
10. Stick To The Status Quo
As the song that sets the tone for the rest of the films going forward, Stick To The Status Quo gives the majority of the secondary cast their only time to show off their vocal prowess while making the main characters look REALLY judgemental. In addition to introducing us to Martha, the pop and locking nerd, and Zeke, the jock who loves to bake, it gave us the stoner kid playing the air cello! As one of the big mysteries surrounding HSM, he was never to be seen again. I guess we really aren’t all in this together, especially if you fail a drug test.
9. Now Or Never
One of HSM‘s trademarks is its awesome basketball themed musical numbers. Benefiting from the much higher production budget of the theatrically released High School Musical 3, Now Or Never is like Get Your Head In The Game on steroids. Serving as a high energy introduction leading to the final movie while showing off a badass Troy casually walking through a crowded court while no-look passing, the introduction of the
new main character, Jimmy Zara, and Gabriella willing her man out of an asthma attack through the power of song, and you get one of the most memorable scenes in the franchise.
8. I Just Want To Be With You
Naturally, considering all three films are essentially love stories, you can expect duet after duet between the two leads. But while HSM 3 excelled with some incredible ballads between Troy and Gabriella with songs like Right Here, Right Now, and Can I Have This Dance, I Just Want To Be With You had the benefit of hitting an emotional high as the last time we saw the Romeo and Juliet of East High, (minus the suicide,) share a stage together. And did they sure make it count, with simple, yet strong choreography that made you feel like they only had eyes for each other. I mean, I’m sure the fact that Hudgens and Efron were dating at the time didn’t hurt.
7. What I’ve Been Looking For
An often overlooked track in the original film, this song was the how we were introduced to Sharpay and Ryan Evans, the mean girl, (and boy,) of East High. In this alternate universe where the theater majors were the most popular kids in the school, they immediately show why they’re at the top of the ladder with a fast paced, vocally strong track that’s over way too soon. Troy and Gabriella get their own rendition right after, but to anyone with ears, (which apparently excludes Ms. Darbus, the drama teacher,) the Evans kids blew them out of the water this time.
6. Start Of Something New
As the most appropriately named song in the series, Start of Something New is what launched the phenomenon, when an innocent karaoke session turned into the love story of our time. With instant chemistry between Efron and Hudgens, it was impossible not to get sucked into this scene, ignoring certain peculiarities as to how Troy suddenly knew the lyrics half way through despite being glued to the lyrics screen at first, or how this teenage New Year’s party didn’t have a drop of alcohol in sight. Easily one of the most iconic moments across all three films, I can’t think of a better way to hook the audience in. Considering we’re still talking about the movies 10 years later, it did an amazing job, regardless of whether or not it was actually Zac singing.
5. Gotta Go My Own Way
I wasn’t a huge fan of Gabriella’s other solo songs, but MY GOD does this song send you into a downward spiral of sadness. Gotta Go My Own Way accomplishes two things; it further proves that Efron and Hudgens have amazing on screen chemistry through their singing, as well as their acting. I mean Zac alone has this way of showing 1000 different emotions with one longing stare, that’s enough to make our hearts melt when we’re not throwing our underwear at the screen. It’s kind of silly when you realize this song is really just Gabriella quitting her job and going home as opposed to an actual break up song, but that doesn’t make it any less sad when you watch it.
4. Work This Out
Easily my favorite ensemble track, Work This Out has an infectious type of energy that’s only matched by its addicting choreography. I know I can’t be the only one who memorized the steps to this work anthem, one which serves so many purposes. Need an awesome work out song? Bust out the moves at the squat rack and become the envy of the gym! Need a pick me up when life isn’t going your way? Let Troy and company convince you that you can push through it. Do you hate your job? Use Work This Out as a way to convince yourself to just deal with it, no matter how miserable you are! I mean, if the infinitely happy East High kids can get hate work and get through it, then what’s your excuse?
3. Bet On It
The song that made me consider paying for golf just to prance around on the greens, Bet On It gets credit for being awesome in spite of itself. Some of the most flamboyant dance moves you’ll ever see accompany over dramatic angst and awful special effects while exclaiming that Troy won’t lose himself in his pursuit of his basketball dreams. Yet, between every aggressive camera point and grain of sand thrown, it somehow manages to be amazing despite its cheesiness, with one of Efron’s most addicting performances to date. I mean, how can you hate a song that gave us this?
How about this?
An unsubstantiated rumor says this scene took all day to shoot and ate up most of High School Musical 2‘s budget. I say it was money well spent.
2. Breaking Free
Out of the numerous duets throughout the films, Breaking Free is easily the standout between all of them. Foiling the plans of their rivals in the Evans twins and even their own friends who were selfishly trying to keep them away from singing to focus on basketball and math… stuff, Troy and Gabriella blow the songs up to that point out of the water with a breathtaking performance that includes such feats as Efron’s pants soaking moonwalk, or Gabriella’s mysteriously disappearing lab coat. I mean, even Troy’s hard ass dad can’t help but be impressed. If Start of Something New was what got our foot in the door, Breaking Free kicked it down, capturing the magic that helped the series become a phenomenon.
Yet, above all else, Scream captures everything there is to love about High School Musical. Effeminate dance moves, a rain storm of basketballs, Zac Efron with his shirt off… I mean, what isn’t there to like? If that wasn’t enough, spinning rooms, punching balls, banging on lockers, a sudden thunder storm and faster stair walking than I could ever hope to achieve help create the closest we ever got to an aggressive version of Troy. Thanks again to the expanded budget of a theatrical film, this High School Musical 3 standout resonated with me in a big way, as the East High star was forced to decide between his lifelong love of basketball and his newfound love of theater. Of course, with Gabriella moving away to college, this number would lead to Troy making his ultimate decision, one that would see these characters off into the sunset, as we would soon after say goodbye to these characters as they moved on to college without us.
So from the screams, to the status quo and everything in between, those are our top 10 High School Musical songs. Was there anything we missed, or something we were completely off base with? What are your favorite memories as a Wildcat? Share them with us in the comments, and make sure to tweet your thoughts @geekscapedotnet and @InuJoshua!
As always, what team!? Wildcats! Get your head in the game!