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The 5 Gayest Numbers From “High School Musical,” Ranked

With "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" here, it's time to reflect on this VERY campy Disney franchise.

Thirteen years ago, Disney Channel blessed us mere mortals with the first High School Musical film, arguably the network’s campiest, most absurdly entertaining stab at a coming-of-age romance to date. The 2006 flick was a smash hit and spurred a seemingly never-ending string of sequels, spinoffs, and revivals.

Perhaps most important, though, for a musical movie about a bunch of “straight” teenagers in love, it was really, really queer.

So, in honor of the premiere of NBC’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series the latest, very meta addition to the HSM oeuvre (hitting Disney+ November 12), here are the five gayest musical numbers from the first two films. You’re welcome.

  1. “Bop to the Top” (High School Musical)

    Career gays, are you listening? Because “Bop to the Top” is a boss-bitch anthem that still slaps harder than this queen. Twins Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) and Ryan Evans (Lucas Grabeel) go balls to the wall in their audition for East High School’s fall musical, dressing to the nines (Sharpay’s beaded dress! Ryan’s hideous shirt!) and belting a hubristic ode to their own work ethic (“Work our tails off every day / Gotta bump the competition / Blow them all away!”) The song is a total earworm, too. Oh, did we mention Ryan is totally queer-coded? Remember that. It’ll come into play on the baseball diamond later in HSM 2.

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

    There are too many wholesome, gender-bucking gems in this OG HSM number to name. From the buff jock who “loves to bake” to the nerdy girl who harbors a secret love of hip-hop, “Stick to the Status Quo” highlights how cliques of every kind expect their members to be one-dimensional. It’s unsubtle and a little reductive, sure, but what HSM story line isn’t? Also, a shout-out to Tisdale’s killer vocals in the bridge (and Sharpay’s quasi-power suit moment.)

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

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    Kidding, of course. NewNowNext could write a dissertation about the queer appeal of “I Don’t Dance.” From the low-level simmer of very PG sensuality in Ryan and Chad Danforth’s (Corbin Bleu) playful banter, to the song’s pun-filled lyrics (“Lean back, tuck it in, take a chance / Swing it out, spin around, do the dance / I wanna play ball, not dance hall / I’m makin’ a triple, not a curtain call”), “I Don’t Dance” endures as one of HSM 2’s most delightfully bonkers moments. Extra points for the hotties in wife-beaters and baseball jerseys. Hey batter, batter, hey, batter, batter, swing!

  4. “Fabulous” (High School Musical 2)

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    Girls and gays everywhere were gooped and gagged when Sharpay single-handedly dismantled the patriarchy demanded that everything in her immediate vicinity be fabulous AF. Hey, you can’t fault a girl who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it.

  5. “Bet on It” (High School Musical 2)

    This Troy Bolton solo number is as melodramatic as star Zac Efron’s haircut is dated in it. From Troy’s supremely flamboyant, borderline manic mannerisms (we get it, you’re having a crisis of self!) to the track’s heavy-handed messaging (“The answers are all inside of me / All I gotta do is believe”), “Bet on It” exemplifies the boiling teenage angst inherent to HSM’s lasting appeal. On a personal note, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that, since seeing this disasterpiece, my go-to method for warding off existential trauma is a long, reflective, indulgent walk with a good song as my soundtrack. Troy’s theatrics cut first, and cut the deepest. This is a high school classic to end all classics.

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.
@_sammanzella