Between watching High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and all three High School Musical movies over the past few weeks, I was inspired to figure out which movie of the original trilogy is the best.
An impossible question, right?
To help answer this impossible question, I sent out a survey to my Tumblr followers all about these iconic movies.
Survey Results Summary
High School Musical 2 won the most amount of questions, winning five out of 10 survey questions. The original film, High School Musical, won the second most at three questions out of 10. The last film, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, won the least amount of questions at two out of 10, and one of those that it won was the “Least Favorite Movie” question.
“I Don’t Dance” from High School Musical 2 was the most popular song, winning two of the categories: Best (Non-Opener/Finale) Ensemble Number and Best Sports™ Song.
High School Musical 2 was chosen by 55.1% of voters to be the best movie of the trilogy, and High School Musical 3: Senior Year was voted the least favorite by 62.9% of participants.
My Own Opinion
I have adored these movies since I was a kid. At ten years old, I watched the first one as it premiered. I even watched several of the “Dance Along” reruns. As such, it holds a special place in my heart.
That said, after rewatching the series last weekend, I think that the best movie overall is the second movie. It feels complete in a way that the other two don’t, and overall just has a higher sense of creativity because they weren’t bound by the high school aspect of High School Musical.
I think the best one in terms of production value is the third one, obviously. It has a polished sense to it that they were able to achieve with a theatrical wide release and a higher budget. The third one, however, has some unrealistic elements to its story that are difficult for me to overlook, as an adult.
It’s difficult to choose which movie has the best songs. I’m inclined to say the first one, but that may just be because that movie holds so much sentimental value to me. That said, if I’m going to pick an album to listen to at any given moment, I’d probably pick the third movie. It has those classic love songs that are pleasing to listen to as well as those awesome ensemble numbers that are an absolute joy to sing along to.
The first film induces nostalgia, the third is filled with a bunch of great songs, but I may have to agree with my followers that High School Musical 2 has the best songs of them all. “I Don’t Dance” is an eternal classic, I still sing “What Time Is It?” every time someone asks that question in real life, “Bet On It” was overly angsty in the best way, and “Everyday” is one of those songs that just makes you feel good about life.
Finally, here is what 167 of my followers decided were the best elements of the trilogy. These survey results adhere to the following key:
Song / Movie: Percentage of voters (Number of voters out of 167)
Bold = Winner
Italicized = High School Musical 2
Underlined = High School Musical 3: Senior Year
Best Angst Song
Bet On It: 42.5% (71)
Gotta Go My Own Way: 29.3% (49)
Scream: 23.4% (39)
When There Was Me and You: 4.8% (8)
Walk Away: 0% (0)
Best Sharpay / Ryan Song
Bop to the Top: 29.3% (49)
I Want It All: 26.9% (45)
Fabulous: 24.6% (41)
What I’ve Been Looking For: 11.4% (19)
Humuhumunukunukuapua’a: 7.8% (13)
What Time Is It?: 66.5% (111)
Start of Something New: 22.2% (37)
Now Or Never: 11.4% (19)
We’re All In This Together: 73.7% (123)
High School Musical: 15.6% (26)
All For One: 10.8% (18)
Best Love (Troy / Gabriella) Song
Breaking Free: 49.1% (82)
Can I Have This Dance: 21.6% (36)
You Are The Music in Me: 19.2% (32)
Right Here, Right Now: 8.4% (14)
What I’ve Been Looking For (Reprise): 1.8% (3)
Best (Non-Romantic) Duet
The Boys Are Back: 50.9% (85)
Bop to the Top: 44.3% (74)
You Are The Music in Me (Reprise): 4.8% (8)
Best (Non-Opener/Finale) Ensemble Number
I Don’t Dance: 41.9% (70)
Stick to the Status Quo: 33.5% (56)
Get’cha Head in the Game: 8.4% (14)
Work This Out: 8.4% (14)
A Night to Remember: 5.4% (9)
Everyday: 2.4% (4)
Best Sports™ Song
I Don’t Dance: 67.1% (112)
Get’cha Head In The Game: 25.1% (42)
Now Or Never: 7.8% (13)
Which is your favorite movie?
High School Musical 2: 55.1% (92)
High School Musical: 30.5% (51)
High School Musical 3: Senior Year: 14.4% (24)
Which is your LEAST favorite movie?
High School Musical 3: Senior Year: 62.9% (105)
High School Musical 2: 19.8% (33)
High School Musical: 17.4% (29)
Why is that movie your favorite? (This question was optional, and these answers are unedited)
Those who selected High School Musical:
What I’ve Been Looking For
It was made before the franchise was such a phenomenon so I guess it feels more genuine to me? There are some cute moments
Because it was the OG and the music is amazing
Idk it just is
The other two could never match the original completely. The character chemistry is purely a work of art.
The first and only one I really enjoyed
idk its good, ur missing the sharpay movie tho
Its the og
Those who selected High School Musical 2:
because less gabriella
I Don’t Dance
Its the best one
it’s the best movie, nay, film ever created.
I like the summer stuff!
Overall has better bops
best plot best music and i dont dance which is a fantastic song with homoerotic subtext
i was in a summer camp production of it
Tbh I think its the one I watched the most, and I mean the extended version is iconic come on
songs and story (though that also applies to hms 3)
It has the best music and it’s the gayest one
bc it has the least subtle gay subtext ever written
it’s iconic! there are more bops overall and i just love it
More memorable songs. Plus Ryan and Chad
gay. ryan gets a personality.
gay….bops…it’s the second one….I can’t choose
i just think its neat
I have the most nostalgia with it
Every single song BOPS higher than the TOP plus its feela more like an ensemble heavy movie
it has some of the best music and character development and i love ryan making new friends
the music is quality
It’s the most fun! And has the most Ryan/Chad content
It has the most interesting plot to me out of the three.
It didn’t need to be that extra, but it went there
I love the setting.
Bops. And it’s gay.
The GAY of Ryan and Chad. The THEATRICS of all of Sharpay in general. The PIZZAZZ of the Lava Springs Resort. Who could not love it?
When I was younger,it was the movie I most watched with my sister (because she had the dvd),i miss her and watch this movie makes me feel like she is there
Those who selected High School Musical 3: Senior Year:
The better, more professional, higher budget production makes this one stand out more.
the first one is boring, the second one has literally an identical plot with slightly better songs, and the third one not only has the best soundtrack but has a decently structured original plot
Because it felt like a great conclusion to a sersies that was kind of superficial, but then actually gave depth to a lot of the characters who didnt get much coverage. Also it looks and sounds better than the first two.
Since it was being released in movie theaters I feel like there was just a higher production quality and there’s honestly not a song from the third soundtrack that doesn’t slap.
bigger budget = improved quality of the movie altogether (costumes, sets, bigger ensembles, even the songs are more elaborate than in the other 2 movies)
They are all my favorite
The choreography of Can I Have This Dance, and the song Just Wanna Be With You
Any other comments can go here (This question was optional, and these answers are unedited)
I don’t actually like the High School Musical films. I feel much warmer towards them than I did at the height of their popularity but I wouldn’t watch them by myself. I have more than enough familiarity to give genuine opinions though, it’s just they’re coming from a different place so I don’t know if you’ll want to count them? I tried to pick the best songs based on how well I thought they did the things they meant to and how memorable/impressive they were. “Least favourite” was the hardest question because HSM2 irritates me the most but I think HSM3 might be the least good?
Sharpay is the true victim of all 3 movies. She just tried to protect the show
EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD JAZZ SQUARE
this was fun thx
HSM3 straightwashed Kelsi and Ryan and I’ll never forgive Disney.
Making me choose a least favourite was actually kinda mean
I actually don’t know if I’ve ever seen the first high school musical. Or at least not all of it.
i played fulton and my friend told me i looked like a dominatrix
I was obsessed with hsm when I was elementary school. I made my own poster by taping pieces of printer paper together. That is all.
i don’t have a least favorite!!!
(I don’t dance should be in the love song section)
The first one is literally Grease. Also, I think my favourite songs are in the third one, while the most Iconic™ ones are in the second. ALSO RYAN AND KELSEY GAY/LESBIAN SOLIDARITY.
both the first two are classic, iconic, don’t get me wrong. 2 barely wins out. but 3 sucked. had some good songs but nothing GREAT not like the first two where every song was a bop (to the top)
I hate you for making me choose a least favorite this is illegal
To be fair, the third one is only my least favourite because I only aaw it when it first came out.
kelsey and ryan are gay/lesbian solidarity, and they went to prom as best friends
hsm3 100% has the best soundtrack and that’s a fact
Ryan and Kelsi were gay
CANT WAIT TO SEE THE RESULTS THANK YOU FOR THE SUVEY AHHHH
Tbf HSM3 is my least favourite because I’ve seen it all of once. Just saying.
I’ve never seen HSM3 so that kinda colored my response. Also no one in the HSM series is cishet!!! and that’s true as hell trust me my dad is Kenny Ortega (/j he’s not my dad but everything else is true)
High School musical is single-handedly the reason why I’m a theatre kid now. Also it is gay culture and no one can tell me otherwise.
bold of u to assume I Don’t Dance ISNT a romance song
THE FIRST HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL IS SO BORING!! I CAN’T STAND IT! THE SONGS R NOT GOOD!! Anyway Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure is the second best HSM movie, right after HSM3. The Boys are Back and Can I Have This Dance are the best songs in the franchise. I’m very passionate about this topic.
I love all of the movies, but the songs could’ve been better in the first movie, BUT THEY WERE ALL MASTERPIECES!!
I really feel like the movies got better with each one they released.
They are all my least favorite
I think it is impossible and unfair to say which is the BEST one, and here’s why. The first HSM had the most solid plot structure and is the best standalone movie because of that. The second HSM had a certain fun vibe that the others didn’t because it was set in summertime, and the music is better. The third HSM had the biggest budget and it shows in the phenomenal choreography and quality music, and since it was the 3rd movie the cast had a certain energy and bond they shared that only extensive time and 3 movies could have built. So. None is objectively better, they each bring something to the table the others don’t.
Which High School Musical film is your favorite, and why? Let me know in the comments!