When the first Disney movie musical high school saga dropped in 2006, it completely changed the landscape of teenage stardom. It launched its then mostly unknown cast into the stratosphere of fame that few low-budget made-for-TV movies have ever had before or will ever have again. The Disney machine, still with dollar signs in its eyes, jumped at the chance to offer its new stars recording deals to further capitalize on teen idol worship.
When High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Premiering on Disney+ nearly 15 years later, the tradition has continued and a whole new generation of young pop stars have emerged from the franchise. Whether you watch the show or not, it’s hard not to be aware of the real-life relationship drama between protagonists Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett and the resulting music, like Rodrigo’s chart-topping and award-winning album. of a Grammy. Acid, and probably some of Bassett’s songs too. Time will tell what kind of impact these new kids will leave on the music industry, but until then, let’s look at the offers from the original cast and if they still hold up.
Honorable mentions: Monique Coleman and Zac Efron
Only two people from the main cast of musical high school did not take their shot at pop stardom. One of them was Monique Coleman, who played the supporting role of the scientific genius Taylor, and who didn’t sing at all in the first film. It’s not an ideal start to a musical career, but the consistent and decidedly non-musical roles she’s had since betray no hard feelings.
Newly crowned leading man and teenage dream Zac Efron, however, was too big to fail. He could have dropped an album where he just burped the alphabet and he probably would have done better than some of the other entries here. Although he stayed true to his roots by performing in musicals such as The greatest showman and hair spray (and their chart-topping soundtracks), he humbly turned down several offers to produce an album over the years, citing a desire to make room for more deserving artists. He also played the role of Ted Bundy. They say if you listen closely, you can still hear the sound of Radio Disney executives crying.
4. Lucas Grabeel
Grabeel starred as Ryan, brother and sidekick to Ashley Tisdale’s villainous Sharpay. The character quickly became a fan favorite, thanks to Grabeel’s charming performances with “What I’ve Been Looking For” and “Bop to the Top” as well as the fact that he is widely considered one of the first disney gay characters. If the labels of the time had been aware of this potential, who knows what might have been. What was in reality, however, was a soundtrack for a fox and dog sequel you didn’t know existed, and a handful of original songs. We’ve listened to everything so you don’t have to.
3. Corbin Blue
With Zac Efron out of the running, someone had to step in and take on the pop star role. Enter Corbin Bleu, who played Efron’s best friend and armpit hair model, Chad. Bleu’s music career started strong, with his first single “Push It to the Limit” lodged in the brains of millennials and never leaving, playing on repeat in the darkest crevices of our minds long after the last time. that we actually listened to it. But Bleu pushed his success as an artist to its limit, as the album had no further chart singles. Later, he took a page from Efron’s book finding his niche in musical theatre. And by musical theater we mean, of course, hair spray.
2. Ashley Tisdale
Unlike most of her co-stars, Ashley Tisdale wasn’t a teenager when musical high school came out of. This meant his first album Stubborn was allowed to be excited. His single “He Said, She Said” was notably censored by Radio Disney, replacing the word “touching” with “chilling”, giving his music the kind of PG-13 outrage that tweens crave and parents tolerate. His Stubborn Tour Across America, according to some Flickr archives and a Spanish Wikipedia page, also appears to have taken place. Despite these successes, her subsequent albums underperformed and she has mostly been content to do voice acting ever since. (At this point we felt compelled to check and no, Tisdale was not involved in a production of hair spray. Still.)
the original musical high school The trilogy never had its own Olivia Rodrigo, but it did have Vanessa Hudgens, an icon of her own generation. His first album, V, is the best album of all the members of this cast, and it’s not close. Lead single “Come Back to Me” transcended the genre of pop Disney was broadcasting at the time and could have stood up to contemporary hits had it been properly promoted. (It peaked at No. 55 on Billboard‘s Hot 100, and the album was certified gold.) His second album, Identified, was also well received, although he is now best known for his catchy, silly single “Sneakernight”. Hudgens has been out of the pop game since then, but has, like many of his castmates, continued to perform in musicals, including Fox’s Grease live! and the recent adaptation by Jonathan Larson Tick, tick… Boom! She’s also starred in those Princess, Christmas, Netflix movies, and in a really bad take on the cancellation of Coachella at the start of the pandemic.