High School Musical: The Musical: The Series has some big shoes to fill in Disney Channel fandom, but if the first few musical numbers are any indication, this new Disney+ show is going to be just fine. In fact, it might be better than fine. It might just be . . . better.
Now, before you come for me, please know this: I am a Troy and Gabriella stan. A Sharpay sympathizer. I distinctly remember staying up to watch the original High School Musical when I was 11 years old, and plotting to: (a.) ask my parents for a flip phone and (b.) find a way to ditch my parents on New Year's Eve so I could get randomly picked for a karaoke competition with another shy stranger then trade numbers as the clock struck midnight. Again: I was 11.
See? Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens's "Start of Something New" performance left a basketball-size imprint on my soul. Yet, in 2019, I couldn't help but love Olivia Rodrigo's take on the 2006 jam a little bit more. Her character, Nini, turns the romantic anthem into a song about her passion for the stage. "I never knew that it could happen 'til it happened to me," she belts out, as she's transported to a fantasy scenario where she can sing with uninhibited confidence.
It feels so right, not to be singing to a boy — which will inevitably come, because yes, there is a love triangle — but to be pursuing a dream. Feel free to disagree with me, and know that I still have nothing but warm, fuzzy feelings for the original. If I wanted to send a clip back in time to my 11-year-old self, however, it would be Nini's performance. Hands down.