High School Musical is a staple for all of those who grew up in the early ’00s, the days of The Cheetah Girls, That’s So Raven, and Lizzie McGuire. It’s a movie that grew to define our generation, especially the songs in it. If you haven’t seen the movie, you are sorely missing out. But you can still feel the magic of it all though the songs. The Young Folks’ Reagan Harrison and Brittany Menjivar’s have ranked all ten songs which appeared in the original 2006 High School Musical film. Where did your favorite land? Find out below!
Britt: Don’t get me wrong; Vanessa Hudgens sounds truly amazing in this ballad. However, I’ve always had a bit of trouble warming up to the song’s mopey, melodramatic tone. Maybe it’s the fact that I was an action-loving grade school kid when I was first introduced to HSM, but I usually find myself wanting to skip ahead to something more exciting (“We’re All in This Together,” maybe) when I get to this part of the movie.
Reagan: I really did not like Vanessa Hudgens’ character, Gabriella, even though in retrospect she was a tad likeable. I know this is a favorite for so many HSM fans, but the way it’s presented in the movie always made me want to skip ahead. It’s bland and boring compared to the rest of the songs in the movie, and her vocals aren’t my favorite. They could’ve done so much more with this ballad.
Britt: At best, “Bop to the Top” is deliberately goofy fun. At worst, it’s redundant and a bit grating. In the film, the song is the perfect way to reveal the sheer ridiculousness of Sharpay and Ryan, who are brought to life wonderfully by Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel. When you listen to it out of context, however, lines like “zig zag zop, pop like a mop” become less pleasant.
Reagan: Why does this song sound like it belongs on a cruise ship? It doesn’t really fit in to the movie or sound that great, unless of course you’re at a bad karaoke night. As Britt said, Sharpay and Ryan are super over the top and the song does a great job of portraying them this way, but listening to the song outside of the movie is pretty bad.
Britt: “What I’ve Been Looking For” has plenty of great qualities. Tisdale and Grabeel’s harmonies provide some of the album’s most sonically pleasing moments, and the song’s upbeat pace is entertaining. However, Sharpay and Ryan’s I’m-better-than-you attitude, accentuated by over-the-top instrumentation, makes this number difficult to love. (I’m sure that’s the point, as Sharpay and Ryan are the film’s villains, but…)
Reagan: I remember this song from the film like it was yesterday: the snapping between the curtains and bad choreography was all part of the duo’s performance in the film. However, the bad extends from the scene in the movie to the song as well. It seems as if all of their songs throughout the movie are thoroughly rough, but they only seem to be on an uptick for me in the later movies.
Britt: “Start of Something New” is sweet and engaging. After all, it’s the song that brings Troy and Gabriella together and makes the viewer want to see how their relationship will withstand any oncoming obstacles. In retrospect, though, it’s the tiniest bit cheesy.
Reagan: The lyrics in this are probably the cutest and I could definitely have seen this on the radio until the accompanying music came in and ruined it. Still, it’s definitely a strong vocal performance by both Efron and Hudgens. Unfortunately, it can’t save it to make it higher on this list.
Britt: As I said before, the harmonies in “What I’ve Been Looking For” are golden. This slower, toned-down reprise of the song puts the focus on those harmonies by stripping away the hyperactive instrumentation of Sharpay and Ryan’s version, which makes it a winner in my book.
Reagan: This song isn’t my personal favorite, but I do have to give props to the vocals displayed in this song by Efron and Hudgens. The slowed down version is much stronger, and the way their voices play off one another makes the reprise better, even with it’s shorter length.
Britt: In all honesty, I’m a little bit confused about this one. It wasn’t included in the movie, so I never know what to imagine when I listen to it. (Are Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, and Ryan onstage? In the cafeteria?) My uncertainty doesn’t stop me from enjoying it, though. The horns imbue the song with energy and passion, and the interaction between the various characters’ dynamic voices is something that every musical theatre kid can appreciate.
Reagan: The rhythm in “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” is very defined, and has an almost Latin sounding twist to it, and it’s one of the only songs on the album that has every major character on it. It’s an underrated track, in part because it isn’t in the film. It has an upbeat tempo and doesn’t have piano, which differentiates it from the ballad songs.
Britt: “Stick to the Status Quo” is exactly what you’d expect from a movie called High School Musical, and that’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. Of course, characters like Sharpay and Ryan make notable appearances in the song, but the real star here is the ensemble. Characters like Zeke, the jock who baked creme brûlées in his spare time, and Martha, the nerd who loves to “pop and lock and jam and break,” are played with humor and personality, making this number one of the movie’s most amusing, lovable moments.
Reagan: The way everyone relates to this song is what makes it so popular, and it embodies the message of what the movie is trying to go against, which is fitting into certain cliques. It’s a timeless message and makes this song one of the timeless ones all of our younger selves will remember. Plus, it isn’t hard to dance to with the “No, no, no!” part. We all remember this cafeteria scene from the sing along versions on Disney, right?
Britt: Even years later, “Breaking Free” shines like a spotlight on a high school stage. Every pause pulses with emotion; every harmony between Troy and Gabriella is a triumphant affirmation of everything that High School Musical stands for. When Troy sings “We’re breaking free!”, the song’s full potential is unleashed, and the anthemic words “there’s not a star in heaven that we can’t reach” seem to ring true. Of course, the key change is an especially magical moment.
Reagan: I think this is one the songs that pushed people to make High School Musical on Stage which is a dream for lots of kids to be apart of. It’s that many of the popular songs from this movie are in the key of C Major, and this is one of them, but is surprisingly complex for a pop song. As Britt said, the key change adds to it, and it’s a classic in the HSM universe.
Britt: It’s ironic that “Get’cha Head in the Game” is about Troy trying to suppress his passion for theatre, because this is one of the best musical numbers in the entire film. The song starts with the percussive noise of basketballs bouncing and sneakers squeaking. Then Troy sings about sports terms at a rapid-fire pace before the team joins him for a high-energy chorus that’s sure to stick in your head. The best part is when the music changes suddenly and Troy breaks into a mini-soliloquy with irrepressible distress: “Why am I feeling so wrong?/My head’s in the game but my heart’s in the song.”
Reagan: Zac Efron was a heartthrob for all young girls watching this movie, and I think that this is what hooked us. Squeaking shoes is the noise that marks the introduction to the song, and follows with “Shoot the outside Jay” and a backup of male voices. It’s catchy, upbeat, and I could play it on repeat for days without getting sick of it. The instrumental breakdown with the electronic riff is hilarious in a way, but it doesn’t come off badly and make the rest of the song sound like garbage, compared to some scary choices in other songs. I think it makes anyone want to try and break out their baller moves.
Britt: “We’re All in This Together” is the perfect pep rally anthem, as well as the perfect way to end the film. As its title suggests, the song reunites all the characters for one last hurrah with a message of unity and acceptance. Punctuated by cheers for the Wildcats, it’s sure to raise your spirits. You’ll definitely want to go to school at East High after hearing this one.
Reagan: This is an iconic song, and I bet that you and your friends attempted (or still attempt) the dance that accompanies this. A perfect ending needs a perfect song, and it reinforces that everyone is one school body, no matter what group you may think you belong to. No one singer is highlighted, which reinforces the idea of the lyrics. It’s uber positive and cheerful, a masterpiece from the Disney Original movies song vault.