Lost in the shuffle of the ever-growing High School Musical phenomenon -- growing so big, it can no longer be contained on the Disney Channel, it's now reaching theaters for its third and final installment -- is that the tween-sensation is actually a musical. Which means that despite its pop trappings, the soundtracks consist of full-blown show tunes, songs that serve the story and are sung by the rotating cast. This helps make the movies work, but it sentences the soundtracks to be mere souvenirs of the event, a record for fans to play endlessly, not a means to crossover to a wider pop audience. On HSM3, there are only two songs that stand out as potential pop singles, both not so coincidentally solo showcases for the franchise's two biggest stars, Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron. Hudgens has the album's best song in the slickly soulful "Walk Away" -- a tune that would have shown up Wilson Phillips circa 1990 -- that she sings better than Efron, whose "Scream" struts like *NSYNC circa 2000. But both are upstaged by stage brat Ashley Tisdale, who shows far more on-record charisma on her fame-hungry showcase "I Want It All," a song that has absolutely no chance of making sense outside of the senior skip-day plot line of High School Musical 3, but Tisdale performs with ingratiating vigor, using every chop she's learned as a stage kid. Of course, those very strengths are well-suited for a musical like High School Musical 3, where the songs are vehicles for showboating performances either on the screen or in a fan's bedroom -- and for those fans, this set, which is similar in every way to its two predecessors, will not disappoint.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
|High School Musical 3: Senior Year, musical film score|