Before 'High School Musical' there was 'Footloose' and 'Fame'

vanessa-hudgens-zac-efron-high-school-musical.jpg "High School Musical" (2006): The Disney Channel movie exploded into a phenomenon. Just the "HSM" backpack invasion made its tween fans look like an army. The breakthrough roles for Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, who became an item, had them auditioning against the bizarre brother/sister act of Sharpay and Ryan ( Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel). Of course the good kids win. Two of the songs, "We're All in This Together" and "Stick to the Status Quo," could have been the theme songs for the actors who then found themselves in the sequels.

"Footloose" (1984): Kevin Bacon was 24 when he tapped into his inner teen to play Ren McCormack, 17. Ren moves from Chicago to a small town where rock music and dancing are forbidden. But he needs them, and so do the other kids - especially before prom. Worth watching just for the warehouse scene, where Ren pops a cassette into his VW bug's tape player and just dances. So let's hear it for this boy.

fame-scene-zap-325.jpg "Fame" (1980): Irene Cara's voice belting "Fame" was the theme song to the film about students at Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts. Before flash mobs were organized on Twitter, they looked like the terrific scene when one kid's dad, a taxi driver, parks by the school, speakers attached to the roof, blaring Cara's song. Students in all their late '70s finery -- hunter green jogging shorts, tube socks, tube tops - pour out of the school and take to dancing in the street: pirouettes on top of cars, back flips over manhole covers. A truck driver and the taxi driver get into a fistfight, and a mounted police officer enters the fracas, but the kids keep dancing because they're "gonna live forever."

"Rock 'n' Roll High School" (1979): What school would not have been improved with the Ramones? And what student, or teacher for that matter, has not considered the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" the perfect anthem for high school? Students are determined to drive the administrators crazy, and the Ramones help by singing "Teenage Lobotomy" and proving that not every high-school musical must include a goofy ballad.
Photo/Video credit: Disney/MGM