Fantasia, in my honest opinion, was one of the best vocalists ever to win American Idol. In retrospect, Fantasia was one of the more notable personalities, even if perhaps stylistically, her lane as a throwback R&B singer would reduce her commercial appeal. Regardless of Fantasia’s performance on the charts, she possesses a gift many other singers don’t possess. After 10 years in the game, here’s a ranking Fantasia’s 10 11 best songs and her four albums.
“Summertime,” “Got Me Waiting,” and “You Were Always On My Mind” (Free Yourself, 2004)
“I Nominate U,” “Baby Makin’ Hips,” “I Feel Beautiful,” and “Two Weeks Notice,” (Fantasia, 2006)
“I’m Doin’ Me,” “Teach Me,” “Move On Me,” and “Even Angels” (Back To Me, 2010)
“Supernatural Love” featuring Big K.R.I.T., “Ain’t All Bad,” “Get It Right,” “Change Your Mind,” “Lose To Win,” (Side Effects of You, 2013)
1) “I Believe,” Free Yourself
When Fantasia performed “I Believe” as her final performance on American Idol, it transcended winning/losing the competition – it was moving. Still today, no other performance exemplifies Fantasia at her best than her sole #1 hit, “I Believe.” Let the church say yassssss!
2) “Bittersweet,” Back To Me
The only Grammy she’s managed to win, “Bittersweet” was by far the best Female R&B performance of the year – top notch. “Bittersweet” wouldn’t rise as high as previous Fantasia Hot 100 singles, but it had the feel that this was her moment – her time to shine. There’s nothing ‘bittersweet about this sh*t Fantasia!’
3) “When I See U,” Fantasia
When “Hood Boi” somehow managed to fall flat as a single (still don’t know why), “When I See U” served as the saving grace for Fantasia. It was the right single, with the right sound, at the right time. As always, Fantasia sang her face off, infusing her gospel roots firmly into the contemporary R&B joint.
4) “Free Yourself,” Free Yourself
“If you don’t want me, then don’t talk to me / go ahead and free yourself.” Other than “I Believe,” The Missy Elliott co-written “Free Yourself” was the best song from Fantasia’s debut album. Soulful yet contemporary, Fantasia sounded like a seasoned pro, not a newcomer to the biz. For other artists, this track might have been as high as #1.
5) “Truth Is,” Free Yourself
Other than “I Believe,” “Truth Is” is Fantasia’s only other top 25 single. “I Believe” was released as its own entity, so “Truth Is” was the promotional single for Free Yourself. Definitely consistent and enjoyable, “Truth Is” isn’t Fantasia’s overall best song, but it sits among the top echelon.
6) “Hood Boy” featuring Big Boi, Fantasia
As to why nobody bit with this single, is still puzzling. Fantasia was the feistiest of her career, killing the soul sample beneath her. Big Boi added even more swag to the joint, yet it was remarkably underappreciated. Go figure, but Fantasia, as always, kills it. Maybe the ladies weren’t feeling hood boys… SMH.
7) “Without Me” featuring Kelly Rowland & Missy Elliott, Side Effects of You
“Lose To Win” was a bit underwhelming ultimately, even though Fantasia continued to ‘let it rip’ as she has during the entirety of her career. Still, it would take a little Missy Elliott and an assist from Kelly Rowland to right the ship on “Without Me.” Sure, it didn’t have the commercial success of a comparable joint – Keyshia Cole’s “Let It Go” – but it had a similar feel.
8) “Baby Mama,” Free Yourself / “Ain’t Gon Beg You,” Free Yourself
It’s tough to decide between these two songs. Both hail from the stacked Free Yourself, and both are notable for different reasons. In defense of “Baby Mama,” there wasn’t an anthem for single mothers with a baby at the time, so it was something different. It wasn’t a big hit, but it did hit the Billboard Hot 100. In defense of “Ain’t Gon Beg You,” this was the opener on Free Yourself, and did a fantastic job of setting the tone and vibe of the album. Both are top-rate.
9) “Collard Greens & Cornbread,” Back To Me
“Your Precious Love” serves as the inspiration for Fantasia’s “Collard Greens & Cornbread,” which arguably may raise some eyebrows. “Collard Greens & Cornbread” wouldn’t be nearly as off-putting as the forthcoming “Lose To Win,” which was a bit too sample heavy. That said, think back during the neo-soul movement how dominant samples were – Angie Stone’s “No More Rain In This Cloud” and “Wish I Didn’t Miss You” come to mind. “Collard Greens & Cornbread” shines most because of Fantasia’s dynamic pipes.
10) “Thrill Is Gone” featuring Cee Lo Green, Back To Me
No, this isn’t the B.B. King classic, but “Thrill Is Gone” pairs Fantasia’s gospel histrionics with clever soulful oddball Cee-Lo Green. The match is heavenly, even if Cee-Lo spares his singing voice in favor of poetic spoken word. But all anyone needs to know is that “the thrill is gone.”
1) Back To Me (2010)
Arguably, Free Yourself should be the 1-seed given its importance – it was the springboard to Fantasia’s career, featuring the most charting pop singles. That said, Back To Me might feature the best mix of songs and performances that Fantasia has released. Sure, the only notable single was “Bittersweet,” but it also rightfully earned Fantasia her first and only Grammy to date.
2) Free Yourself (2004)
Arguably, this album might technically be Fantasia’s fourth-best. That said its importance in establishing Fantasia as an artist is what solidifies it’s current lofty status. The album charted numerous singles: “I Believe” (#1), “Truth Is” (#21), “Free Yourself” (#41), and “Baby Mama” (#60). Free Yourself was nominated for four Grammys.
3) Fantasia (2006)
Fantasia is definitely the singer’s most underappreciated and underrated album. Vocally, Fantasia steps it up a notch from Free Yourself (of course “I Believe” is untouchable), but the album was a slow seller – it debuted during the busy December at #19 selling 133,000 copies. Eventually, Fantasia was certified gold, thanks likely to big-time single “When I See U,” which peaked at #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs and #32 on the Hot 100. Disappointingly, swagger-laden single “Hood Boi” was a bomb.
4) Side Effects of You (2013)
Side Effects of You is another solid Fantasia album by all means – don’t let it’s fourth place finish fool you. Nominated for three more Grammys rightfully, Fantasia delivered yet another consistent and enjoyable R&B effort. “Lose To Win” wasn’t quite on the same level as “When I See U” or “Bittersweet,” but ‘Tasia again flexed those magnificent pipes. The best song – “Without Me.”
Photo Credits: © RCA, © J Records, © Instagram/tasiaword