It’s been 10 years since High School Musical started something new, and it feels so right to be back here with you to mark the occasion. HSM changed the game (after getting its head in it). The soundtrack bopped its way to No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. Science kids and basketball players became the Capulets and Montagues of a generation. Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens kicked off careers that, in their early years, would be marked by more singing and dancing, but, like, in a new way. Lab coats got a little cooler, maybe? Crème brûlée popularity definitely skyrocketed.
High School Musical propelled Disney Channel Original Movies into a new era — one that was defined by more, well, music — and we aren’t mad at it. The catchy soundtrack turns cliches into a form of art, transforming the way we’d all hear, “We’re all in this together,” “Get your head in the game,” and “Stick to the status quo” for years to come. As we rank how well each number stands on its own, remember that we don’t need to compare ourselves to others, and no song’s individual success matters as much as the success of the team.
What team? WILDCATS.
9. “What I’ve Been Looking For”
Siblings shouldn’t be singing this. The snapping is nice; let’s just stop after the snapping and call it a day.
8. “What I’ve Been Looking For (Reprise)”
It’s still not the most inventive song in the bunch, but it is less creepy now, and that two-part harmony can only mean good things for Troy and Gabriella’s audition prospects.
7. “When There Was Me and You”
Can we just break this down?
I swore I knew the melody
That I heard you singing
And when you smiled
You made me feel
Like I could sing along
But then you went and changed the words
Now my heart is empty
I’m only left with used-to-be
And once upon a song
Is this really happening? Is Gabriella using singing as a metaphor for actually singing with Troy — and expressing that metaphor in song? Has the subtext become text? Where is the line between our reality and the way we interpret it? “When There Was Me and You” is a triumph: of language, of the human spirit, and of making the most of a high school hallway.
6. “Bop to the Top”
“Show some muscle/ do the hustle.”
5. “Start of Something New”
Troy and Gabriella’s meet-cute is also the greatest karaoke success story of our time — and perhaps one of the most dramatic examples of the “take the mic out of its stand” device. Someone’s been singing into his hairbrush; that’s all I’m saying.
4. “We’re All In This Together”
Like you don’t know the choreography. HSM’s final number is as much The Moral of the Story as it is a song, and morals have never been catchier. It’s just a shame that the movie had to wait so long to find the best use for Ryan (going full Saturday Night Fever).
3. “Get’cha Head in the Game”
The stylized title alone wins this one points. “Get’cha Head in the Game” is a choreography standout — no one loses a basketball even once — that also happens to be a great wake-up song (I’ve tried it). But the pièce de résistance of this little number is Troy’s oh-so-dramatic solo, which works because our hearts are in the song, too.
2. “Stick to the Status Quo”
Everybody gather ‘round for the best cafeteria scene this side of Mean Girls. There’s something gleefully absurd about the school’s reaction to such scandalous extracurricular hobbies as “baking” and “dance” (“Is that even legal?”), but that’s the point, okay? “Stick to the Status Quo” is an ode to the lie that anyone really fits in — and if no one fits in, everyone does. Also, it’s really catchy.
1. “Breaking Free”
Do you have chills yet? Had you forgotten that Gabriella starts this audition in a literal lab coat — or that Troy sort of moonwalks? I had. I won’t make that mistake again.
Even Ms. Darbus can feel it.