Disney+ finally made its U.S. debut on November 12, 2019, and it also just so happened to be during Flip Screen’s Musical Month! The Disney Channel is pretty well-known for its classic, original films that dominated the childhood of millennials and gen-z-ers, but more prominently, it is known for its musicals. From Cheetah Girls (2003) to Lemonade Mouth (2011), Disney Channel has made some fabulous tunes while also telling sweet stories of friendship and self-acceptance, most notably, with their 2006 film High School Musical.
Imagine this: the year is 2006. You’ve been watching trailers for the new Disney Channel Original Movie all month long and the night is finally here. It is to be a night to remember. You don’t know what to expect, but the anticipation has been built, and before you even realize it you’re experiencing history in the making. Who knew this one film would dominate an era of your childhood?
High School Musical made some strong foundations for actors and actresses like Ashley Tisdale, Zac Efron, Corbin Bleu, Vanessa Hudgens and Lucas Gabreel. The first film became such a phenomenon that the soundtrack made Number 1 on the Billboard charts. It was followed by dance parties hosted by Disney Channel in your own living room, a live show, two sequels (one with a theatrical release) and even a brand-new reboot airing today. The sweet and charming love story between Troy (Efron) and Gabriella (Hudgens), the ambitious prowl of Sharpay (Tisdale), the “We’re All in This Together” attitude and, more importantly, the famous songs are what made this film franchise what it was and what it continues to be. So what time is it? There’s no doubt that every High School Musical song has a catchy chorus and/or a killer dance number to tag along, like Getcha Head in the Game and All for One. There’s also no doubt that many of their songs will be remembered and gushed about in nostalgic conversations forever, but right here, right now, Flip Screen is about to rank the top 10 High School Musical songs, but this isn’t just based on musical numbers. There are way too many beautiful songs performed by Gabriella and the rest of the gang to decide that, so in order to work this out, we’re taking into consideration costumes, choreography, overall appeal, and music to decide the rankings of this list.
Honorable mention: Before we get started with the full list, this is an honorable mention for the best Gabriella and Troy duet. More iconic than the film itself are the duets between our two main lovebirds. The entire three-film adventure started with a duet between the two (Start of Something New), and from there, they sang melodic duets like Everyday and Can I Have this Dance. Their relationship breaks our heart when it needs to and gives us hope all over again, and every time those two sing in a room together, their bond is unmatchable and unbreakable. Vanessa Hudgens herself was recently recorded singing their breakthrough performing song Breaking Free – which is why the song will be getting our honorable mention. It is our characters first major duet together in front of an audience, and they steal our hearts. As a child, you were most likely practicing Gabriella’s spin in your room multiple times while trying to hit those notes. The song not only is one of the best songs of the first film, but it’s a lovely swirl of twinkling lights and positivity.
10. High School Musical- The final film (High School Musical 3) definitely had the grandest production. It was made for theaters and consisted of immaculate costumes, elaborate sets and some of the greatest songs in High School Musical history. For those reasons, the final song, High School Musical, is making the number 10 spot. The song itself is a loving goodbye to the franchise and its beloved characters, and the entire scene takes place on an open football field after the seniors’ graduation. Just like the ending of every HSM film, the song has a solo from each main character and consists of a well-choreographed dance, but this film took it further and it is a masterfully aesthetic number of red and white robes dancing in a field, with Sharpay having the best final costume for audiences to marvel at! There’s no doubt that even as an adult the nostalgia and lasting presence of this song doesn’t at least cause an annoying lump in your throat.
9. Now or Never– Every High School Musical movie gets an opening number, from Start of Something New to Now or Never, and the latter just so happens to be the greatest opening number of all three films. Taking place during a famous Wildcats basketball game, the song is a catchy opening to a memorable film. The production and choreography of having Troy sing and walk through an ongoing game, then get a pep-talk mid-song from Gabriella, was chef’s kiss. When the film and song open, you know you are in for a visually pleasing treat because of the red and white designs of the crowds, costumes, and decorations in the gym. With the cheerleaders killing it throughout the song and the entire song playing like an actual game, it’s possibly one of the most exciting songs of the entire franchise.
8. The Boys Are Back– One of the best sets and musical scenes from the third film was The Boys Are Back, performed by Troy and Chad. Chad (Bleu) was always one of the best dancers of the group, and his talent is highlighted in numbers like this one. Taking place in a junkyard, the song is enhanced by the cinematography and the choreography. There’s no doubt that Zac and Corbin had a great bond on set, and it shines through their performance together. In the sequence, the duo are seen sliding on tires, pretending to fight junkyard cars like they did when they were kids, and dancing into the night, while glorifying their passed boyhood. It is an absolute riot for the fans. The overall feeling of this scene is gritty and fun, and every small detail contributes to its appeal.
7. Fabulous– Sharpay has some of the best and underrated singles of the HSM franchise. Fabulous was the first song that truly showed her solo star-power. As she sings poolside, Sharpay slowly became an icon in the steps of stars before her like Britney Spears. Her summer fantasy and perfectly done hair make this one of the standout performances of the second film, and Ryan (Gabreel) playing a pink piano in the water is memorable, to say the least. The entire scene plays like a beautiful, pink, poolside fever-dream, and we all love it.
6. Bet on It– Once Disney Channel finally let Zac Efron sing his own songs it made his character feel brand new, like he broke out of an invisible shell. Bet on It is the first example of that breakout, and it is Troy’s second-best musical number of the entire franchise. It had to make the number six spot because of the stunning imagery of Troy running and singing on a golf course in a golf shirt. His dramatics and movement show that he was truly a star to be reckoned with, and he deserved the titular role in the franchise.
5. A Night to Remember– Heading back to the delightful visuals of the third film, we’re putting A Night to Remember at the number five spot. Playing on a stage, the entire musical piece is a fun testament to prom that truly paints it like a magical night of your life. Whether or not your prom was one to remember, this number lets you dream and marvel at the fantasy of it. Not only is it one of the most tuneful and clap-along songs of the franchise, but it consists of some of the best costumes- with prom dresses and suits galore. It also utilizes the singing chops of characters like Jason (Ryne Sanborn) and Zeke (Chris Warren Jr) for once! Kelsi (Oleysa Rulin) and Ryan are given the spotlight this time around and they are so engaging. The moving set pieces and combination of story-telling with the music make this a truly fun piece.
4. I Want it All– Sharpay’s number one performance of the entire franchise is definitely I Want it All, alongside Ryan. They transform the dull lunchroom to a shining stage of silver and pink. Sharpay’s shiny wig and leotard, Ryan’s iconic fedora and the kick-line dancers make this one of the best put-together numbers of the film. From the first time we see the duo in What I’ve Been Looking for, there was no doubt that they had a musical chemistry that was unmatched. Every duet led up to this combustion of stardom and talent, and the twirling stages and changes of scenery that take place during the song are, well let’s just say it, fabulous!
3. I Don’t dance– I Don’t Dance is possibly one of the most underrated songs of the franchise. It’s the most dance-worthy song, and it shows that Bleu was in fact one of the best singers of the cast as well (making his lack of musical numbers quite a travesty). His musical harmony with Gabreel is like candy for the ears, but more than that, their dancing skills are an amazing addition. It’s one of the best choreographed dances with a song about not dancing. It’s a musical paradox, and we love it. The mixture of the baseball and dancing is a nice touch, and we all agree that Chad looks great in baseball pants!
2. Scream– It is not only one of the best songs of the entire franchise, but Scream is also Zac Efron’s best musical solo (to date). This is the song you downloaded onto your phone. It’s the perfect guilty pleasure for the angsty teen that lives within you. Efron kicked his performance up 100 notches in the third film. He kills every duet, every solo and every move he makes. He threw himself into this number and it translates on screen. The rotating hallways, the use of the stairs and, even more, the ending on stage, make this the number two spot. It didn’t need a massive choreography to get its point across. The theatrics and the emotion conveyed by Troy are all this number needed. He truly shines in this film, and he comes to life in this number.
1.We’re All in This Together– This song deserves the number one spot for multiple reasons. First, it is their most memorable, iconic and loved song of all time. This ending number to the first film is incomparable to any of their other major numbers. It cemented the cast and the first film into Disney history and into our hearts. Secondly, the costumes didn’t have to be massively elaborate to be genuine, and straight-up cool. Ryan’s fedora, the basketball team and the cheerleader’s outfits, Gabriella’s iconic red dress, Sharpay and Kelsi’s red and gold outfits – they were to a T. That cheek peck between Troy and Gabriella gave you LIFE as a child. Everything about this number sets the blueprint for every High School Musical afterwards. Be honest, you learned this dance during the Disney Channel dance party. We all did. Being able to dance along to this song was a feat as a child. The packed gym and the over-the-top pep-rally is the perfect ending to the first film.