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The Definitive Ranking of High School Musical Songs



In the days before streaming services existed, as a child I remember begging my parents to drive me to Walmart to pick up the newest High School Musical CD. I would take the little booklet out of the CD case and use the lyrics within it to sing along. Those were the good ole days. Since it’s been awhile since I’ve last listened to the soundtracks to the movies, I thought I would take the time to revisit and rank the musical numbers from my favorite movie franchise of my childhood.

Note: I did not include the bonus feature songs since I didn’t know they existed when I first saw the movies.


28. “Stick to the Status Quo” (High School Musical)

When I was younger it was quite catchy; however, I had never really paid any attention to the words. Now, more than 15 years later I’m honestly questioning who approved this song to be put into a children’s film as the lyrics encourage people “to stick to the stuff they know” rather than pushing boundaries and doing whatever their heart desires. 

Watch the scene here.


27. “The Boys Are Back” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)

It’s nice that Chad and Troy get a song together. Even though the lyrics aren’t high quality, I really appreciate how the film takes the time to acknowledge an interracial friendship which hadn’t really been featured in many Disney shows or movies we had growing up.

Watch the scene here.


26. “Walk Away” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)

In every High School Musical movie, Gabriella sings a ballad about how she has to break up with Troy and this is the worst of them. I just don’t feel any emotion within it.

Watch the scene here.


25. “What Time Is It?” (High School Musical 2)

As a young adolescent in school, this song was perfect to describe the countdown to the start of summer. Prior to starting high school, I always thought this is what it would have been like, but it doesn’t really resonate anymore.

Watch the scene here.


24. “I Don’t Dance” (High School Musical 2)

As a child this scene was never my favorite as I suppose I didn’t quite get it in the context of the rest of the movie. I always thought the choreography was cool, but after watching this scene as an adult, it’s nearly impossible to not apply a queer reading to it. I ship Ryan and Chad now as Chad clearly has way more chemistry with Ryan than Taylor.

Watch the scene here.


23. “When There Was Me and You” (High School Musical)

It might just be me, but Vanessa Hudgens’ voice is really nasally here. I remember I used to dramatically reenact the choreography of this scene throughout my house though when I was younger.

Watch the scene here.


22. “Get’cha Head in the Game” (High School Musical)

I think it’s really cool that they managed to include basketball within the choreography, but the song just doesn’t resonate with me and was always one I skipped when listening to the soundtrack. I think my disdain for it comes from the fact that it’s obviously Drew Seeley’s voice here and not Zac Efron’s emphasizing that my childhood was a lie.

Watch the scene here.


21. “Now Or Never” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)

On the same note, it’s cool that basketball is incorporated into the song, but I always thought it was really weird how Gabriella stood up in the middle of the song. High School Musical 3 was so dramatic, but I guess it had to be for theatrical release.

Watch the scene here.


20. “Work This Out” (High School Musical 2)

This song marks a milestone many teenagers can relate to- their first real job and how much it sucks! I kind of feel bad for Troy, though, because he got all his friends jobs and they’re just complaining about it.

Watch the scene here.


19. “Scream” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)

Okay, this song and scene as a whole is underrated in the scope of the HSM trilogy! It’s so relatable as Troy is having a midlife crisis about which path in life he wants to follow and you can see that indecisiveness throughout the whole scene. Does it compare to “Bet On It” though? No.

Watch the scene here.


18. “High School Musical” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)

I thought this was a nice way to end the trilogy, but it’s a mediocre song at best. I always thought my high school graduation would look like this out on our football field like it was supposed to be, but it rained that day and so we were stuck inside our gym.

Watch the scene here.


17. “A Night to Remember” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)

Another great song for what is usually one of the milestones that high school seniors look forward to, prom. I’m kind of sad that we never saw their actual prom though, if they even had one.

Watch the scene here.


16. “I Want It All” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)

Sharpay Evans never got the credit she deserved when we first watched these movies as kids. She knew exactly what she wanted in life and wasn’t afraid to express that.

Watch the scene here.


15. “What I’ve Been Looking For” (Gabriella and Troy’s Edition) (High School Musical)

This marks the start of the mediocre Troy and Gabriella duets. They aren’t terrible, but they can’t compete with the ones at the top. This is quite a short snippet of a song, but it doesn’t compare to Sharpay and Ryan’s arrangement of the song.

Watch the scene here.


14. “Just Wanna Be With You” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)

Another average Troy and Gabriella duet. I’m quite angry that Sharpay was disrespected by not being able to take part in this song. After all she did for the department.

Watch the scene here.


13. “You Are The Music In Me” (High School Musical 2)

As a kid I always questioned how it was possible Troy and Gabriella were able to remember the lyrics Kelsi wrote so quickly.

Watch the scene here.


12. “Can I Have This Dance” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)

Such a cute scene that gave me unrealistic expectations for high school. I’ve always been envious of how beautiful the rooftop of their school is though.

Watch the scene here.


11. “Right Here, Right Now” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)

The setting in the treehouse makes it really cute. It encapsulates the struggle that many high school couples face as graduation nears closer. Also, I think in this moment you can really see the chemistry #Zanessa had. I will never get over their breakup. 

Watch the scene here.


10. All For One (High School Musical 2)

Miley Cyrus’ appearance at the end of the movie during this song is something that honestly blew my mind as a child and I will probably never forget that moment from its’ premiere night.

Also, I don’t think I’ll ever forget this song as a whole thanks to my third grade chorus teacher who choreographed a whole performance to this song for our concert.

Watch the scene here.


9. “Bop To The Top” (High School Musical)

Okay the song isn’t exactly great, but again it stresses the ambition of Sharpay Evans. Plus, the scene as a whole is iconic. Remember in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody when their school put on a production of HSM and they kept joking that Maddie (also played by Ashley Tisdale) looked nothing like Sharpay?

Watch the scene here.


8. “Fabulous” (High School Musical 2)

Another song in which Sharpay shows she is the queen she is. I liked how they had a piano IN THE POOL.

Watch the scene here.


7. “What I’ve Been Looking For” (Sharpay and Ryan’s Edition) (High School Musical)

Troy and Gabriella are only looking on in disgust because they know they could never be as iconic as Ryan and Sharpay.

Watch the scene here.


6. “We’re All In This Together” (High School Musical)

Since the pandemic began, this has kind of become the anthem showing unity during these stressful times. 

Did anyone see the reunion during the Disney Sing-Along on ABC a few months ago where they sang this? Zac Efron’s excuse of internet issues for not being there was so sad.

Watch the scene here.


5. “Start of Something New” (High School Musical)

The song that started it all. Let’s just take a second and thank the guy that had Troy and Gabriella sing together on New Years Eve. This scene just seemed so natural even though I’ve never actually seen people sing karaoke like this. 

Watch the scene here.


4.  “Everyday” (High School Musical 2)

This scene and song are just so pure. The sky background, their outfits, when Gabriella returned … It was just so beautiful. It can’t compete with “Breaking Free,” though.

Watch the scene here.


3. “Gotta Go My Own Way” (High School Musical 2)

The beginning of the greatest one-two punch in the High School Musical trilogy. As mentioned before, Gabriella always has a ballad about some crisis she’s facing with Troy, but this one is by far the best because Troy joins in. So much emotion and then the lighting in the scene makes it ten times more powerful.

Watch the scene here.


2. “Bet On It” (High School Musical 2)

Arguably, one of the greatest and most songs of our generation. I hated this song and scene as a kid because I thought it was dumb that he was dancing and singing about his anger in the middle of a gold course, but now it just hits different because it’s … relatable.

Watch the scene here.


1. “Breaking Free” (High School Musical)

This song still makes my playlists. It’s just so inspirational and still makes me feel as though I’m about to accomplish something great.

Watch the scene here.


What do you think of my ranking? Would you change anything? While I’m still hoping that we’ll someday get a High School Musical 4, at least we still have these iconic songs to marvel at in the meantime.

Emily Tsoi

Geneseo '21

Emily Tsoi is a Senior English major with a minor in Art History. She is an avid journal writer who has one too many rolls of washi tape. When she isn’t studying or journaling, she enjoys reading, watching 80s movies and going to baseball games.
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