Breaking Free

Vanessa Hudgens & Zac Efron (& Drew Seeley)

I really like High School Musical.  It crept up on me.  I was originally dismissive; to someone of my generation, any musical set in an american school has to compare with Grease - and the squeaky-clean sensibilities of Disney are never going to come out well against that.  But repeated exposure (thanks K - I've probably seen it more times than just about any other film now) has allowed it to work its charm.  Yes, it's fluffy, lightweight and contains several times the RDA of movie cliché.  But it's full of knowing winks, little touches and winning performances.  Remarkably, for a film with such relative lack of ambition - it was made as a Disney TV movie - it survives being watched multiple times.

And the songs bear repeated listens too.  There's nothing ground-breaking or, indeed, particularly remarkable about them, but they are masterpieces of craft.  They work best in the context of the film, but this, for me, is the pick of the bunch and stands on its own.  It has such a lovely melody and builds perfectly from a simple beginning to a crescendo before ending on a boy/girl harmony that's a dead ringer for that of "Summer Nights" - just another deliberate nod, in my opinion.

It grates slightly that the producers felt the need to replace Zac Efron's voice; it's him singing the first few bars but then the rest of the male performance is Drew Seeley, who probably has a better range but has a less distinctive voice.  And did no-one notice that the cover of the single is a shot from much earlier in the film than when this song appears?  I know, I know, I should get out more ...

Back to the complete Best Tracks of the Noughties

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