Happy Birthday, Vanessa Hudgens: Wake-Up Video

Shots are on the house for Vanessa Hudgens for the next 24 hours, as the actress and singer celebrates birthday number 21 today. Her ascent from TV commercial actress to her role as a supporting player in the cult his “Thirteen” to international superstar at the forefront of the “High School Musical” series has been nothing short of incredible, considering all that ground was covered in about five years or so.

Hudgens first appeared on the scene in 2003 in the teen drama “Thirteen,” in which she starred alongside Holly Hunter, Evan Rachel Wood and Nikki Reed. The critically-acclaimed film got her a leg up in the film world, and she soon found herself in the Disney system. She eventually ended up in a starring role in “High School Musical,” the now-legendary made-for-TV movie that drew massive ratings for the Disney Channel, morphed into a worldwide franchise and made instant stars out of its cast. Hudgens parlayed that success into a pair of pop albums: 2006′s V and 2008′s Identified. Hudgens has a voice best suited for the theatrical tunes on the “High School Musical” soundtracks, but she adapts to pop and R&B quite well on each of those records.

Despite her vast wells of talent, Hudgens unfortunately may be best known for the nude photos of her that ended up online a while back. She has apologized over and over again and clearly beats herself up for the lapse in judgment, and hopefully a string of upcoming movies and another album can eclipse that particular bump in the road. In the meantime, we can all enjoy “Come Back to Me,” a single from V with a clever sample and a particularly infectious hook.

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