Fantasia is a sanger.
Her passionate vocal performances on American Idol led her to victory as the winner of season three in 2004.
Fantasia’s contribution to R&B always contained the core elements but it also incorporates a distinct flavor; a sprinkling of anointing that even the most nonreligious can’t help but feel.
Fifteen years in the music game, Fantasia continues to evolve as her God-given talent follows suit. While her musical and personal transformation has been inspiring to witness, her business savvy is just as exciting.
The North Carolina native has embarked on a new journey as an indie artist. On October 11, she will release her first independent project — and seventh studio album — Sketchbook via Rock Soul/BMG.
With her first single “Enough” topping the urban adult contemporary radio chart and a supporting tour kicking off this month, now would be the perfect time to rediscover some of her hidden gems.
Here are 10 underrated songs by Fantasia.
“Got Me Waiting” from the album Free Yourself
Writers: Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox, Johnta Austin and Ciara
Producers: Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox
Fantasia’s debut album Free Yourself had a classic and intimate R&B aura at a time where the genre was on the cusp of switching into an innovative lane. The album spawned three hit singles but track seven (“Got Me Waiting”) was definitely one of the sleepers.
In sharing the same producers, “Got Me Waiting” could considerably be the little cousin to Usher’s smash hit “Burn.” Production-wise, the songs share similar melodies and sound palates but this one is all Fantasia. Her notes meld perfectly in between the nooks of the drum patterns and synthesized strings. She lets it be known that her man thinks she’s going to stick around and wait for him to get his act together, think again.
“This Is Me” from the album Free Yourself
Writers: Harvey Mason, Jr., Damon Thomas, Antonio Dixon and Durrell “Tank” Babbs
Producers: The Underdogs and Antonio Dixon
Fantasia has always been known to sing about topics that are close to home. “This Is Me” was one of the first songs in her discography that held a mirror to her personal life. Vulnerability and inspiration coat each line as she breaks down what she is going through as a young woman actively chasing her dreams.
Vocally, the emotions expressed truly brings the lyrics to life. Perseverance is the main thread throughout this low-key tune. Providing a melancholy yet hopeful tone, “This Is Me” contains wistful strings and dewdrop-esque keyboard notes that Fantasia confidently draws from.
“I Nominate U” from the album Fantasia
Writers: Andre Harris, Balewa Muhammad, Candice Nelson, Ezekiel “Zeke” Lewis, Patrick Michael “J. Que” Smith, and Vidal Davis
Producers: Dre and Vidal
We see a sexy side to Ms. Barrino on “I Nominate U” that we have yet to experience previous to her sophomore self-titled album. Fantasia contained glimmers of the current music style she’s created. On the flip side, she provided a number of R&B rooted slow jams that added some spice to her repertoire. The harmonic layers and movie score-like strings aptly complement the role play/film references.
Produced by the duo behind “Say Yes” by Floetry and “After The Candles Burn” by fellow American Idol alum Ruben Studdard, Dre & Vidal know just how to create a song that will put you in the mood. With the assist, Fantasia took the ball and sunk the shot with ease.
“Two Weeks Notice” from the album Fantasia
Writers: Craig Brockman, Missy Elliott, and Corte Ellis
Producers: Missy Elliott and Craig Brockman
“Two Weeks Notice” is one of Fantasia’s deep cuts that deserves more love. Starting and ending with the static of a vinyl record for that vintage feel, she teams up with her good friend and frequent collaborator Missy Elliott on this discrete piece of work.
Over a creeping piano, longing horns and rhythmic production, Fantasia has officially clocked out after not receiving a return on the investment she’s put into a relationship. Each verse and instrument lays the steps climbing up to the climax of the ear-catching bridge where she lays her frustrations out on the remainder of the track. Even if you’re not in a relationship, Fantasia will make you feel just as fed up as she remarkably sounds.
“Man of the House” from the album Back to Me
Writers: Shaffer Smith and Ryan Williamson
Producers: RyKeyz and Ne-Yo
Fantasia challenges gender roles with this upbeat selection that finds her overwhelmed with taking care of everything, including all the duties at home. She can get it all done but if you’re the man you say you are, step up and have your actions match the words. With Ne-Yo as co-captain behind both the boards and the pen, he introduces a more electronic element to the soul singer’s canon but the merge works flawlessly.
“The Thrill is Gone” Featuring CeeLo Green from the album Back to Me
Writers: James “Maley” Ho, Kawan “KP” Prather, Jessyca Wilson, Thomas Callaway, Burt Bacharach, and Hat David
Producers: Malay and KP
When the relationship is done, it’s done but you can’t help to give “The Thrill is Gone” multiple chances. Listeners find themselves in an aural time machine transported to the ‘70s. Containing a sample of “The Look of Love” by Isaac Hayes, the era’s soul influence is draped all over this groove but it’s seamless and fitting. A fleeting fling on its demise, Fantasia quickly realizes that the fun is over. Cee-Lo Green adds some softness to this gripping performance but by the end of the song, Fantasia’s exquisitely raspy vocals take the baton and runs the track to the finish line.
“Get It Right” from the album Side Effects of You
Writers: Harmony Samuels, Amber “Sevyn” Streeter, Al Sherrod Lambert, and Fantasia Barrino
Producers: Harmony Samuels
Fantasia takes more of a creative position as a songwriter on Side Effects of You. Alongside Harmony Samuels who did 95 percent of the production on the album, the two created a superb piece of art that melded an array of vintage sounds and introduced her Rock Soul genre. “Get It Right” is an ode to the Go-Go era that’ll surely make you hit the jitterbug. Unlike the bright sonic energy displayed on body-moving track, she’s growing weary of repeating herself and this is her man’s last chance to get his act together. This feel-good song isn’t completely different from what we’re used to but Tasia successfully experimented with this distinct sound and struck gold.
“Change Your Mind” from the album Side Effects of You
Writers: Harmony Samuels, Al Sherrod Lambert, Fantasia Barrino, Antonie Reid, and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds
Producers: Harmony Samuels
Providing a mid-tempo vibe on Side Effects of You, “Change Your Mind” is an edgy song with an essence of familiarity. Taking a page from the book of early ‘90s pop, this Harmony Samuels-produced cut integrates some elements of “I’m Your Baby Tonight” by Whitney Houston that doesn’t come off forced or botched. While both songs have similar vocal melodies, the lyrical makeups are different. Fantasia wants to make it up to her lover by doing whatever she can to sway his current state of mind.
“Stay Up” from the album The Definition Of…
Writers: Dylan Wiggins, Pedro Fontes Veiga Jr., and Stacy Barthe
Producers: Dylan Wiggins and Ron Fair
Fantasia always makes sure to have an uplifting track on her albums and “Stay Up” is one of them. This inspirational song urges listeners to keep going no matter what comes their way. The melodies are simplistic but the message is what really stands out. Aside from the background vocals, the bass guitar provides a level of texture to the evenly smooth beat.
“Lonely Legend” from the album The Definition Of…
Writers: Michael Carlos Jones, Dreshan Smith, and Salomes Jackson
Producers: Ron Fair and Dreshan Smith
It’s rare that Fantasia records a song that isn’t sung from her point of view. On “Lonely Legend,” a modern rock-tinged track, Fantasia tells the tale of a young lady who is living a seemingly popular but empty life. She mainly uses her lower register on the verses, allowing the smokiness of her vocals to rise and take command. The ability to tell a story from another perspective and deliver it with such conviction is what makes the song unique.