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How do you combat a nude photo scandal that’s threatening to take over the public’s perception of your still-fledgling entertainment career? If you’re Vanessa Hudgens, you sing about wearing… shoes?
“Putcha sneakkuzz awwwwn,” High School Musical alum Vanessa Hudgens drawls at the outset of her 2008 single “Sneakernight,” the first single the starlet released after photos of her in the buff made their way to the Internet. And she brays the order once more, just in case you weren’t listening/were thinking the totally wrong thing, OK? The lite-funk that follows is a faded photocopy of Nikka Costa’s “Like A Feather”—after it’s been put through the Kidz Bop filter, then had all of its “sexy” musical bits Liquid Paper-ed out; Hudgens, meanwhile, is gamely leading the proceedings along, only it’s a little tough because her diction is somewhere between that of a drunk chick’s last-call karaoke performance of “Word Up!” and the Hamburglar. (I swear, every time she repeats the line “basically what we’re gonna gonna do is dance”—which happens often!—I think she’s going to break into a “robble robble.”) I’ll give her a bit of a pass, the lyrics she’s forced to work with, which all sound like they’re supposed to be about sex but have instead been beaten down into an extended metaphor about dancing “all night long,” would be tough for anyone to swallow, let alone a young woman hell-bent on proving that she’s totally 100% comfortable with being fully dressed. But this hot, stinky mess of a comeback song still needs to be aired-out.
I should also note that this song was co-written and produced by L.A.-based producer J.R. Rotem, whose list of production credits reads like a roster of songs that were cut from this list at the last minute. Ashley Tisdale’s piano-lesson fever dream “He Said, She Said”! Nicole Scherzinger’s inert “Baby Love”! Leona Lewis’ soporific “Better In Time”! That new Plies song about blow jobs! His two best tracks—Rihanna’s “S.O.S.” and Jason DeRulo’s “Whatcha Say”—were both saved by the dint of using UFW samples, thus proving the old maxim about broken clocks. Something tells me we might have to set up a mini-hall of fame for his efforts over the years…