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Like Her Debut, Flawed But Shows Potential
on January 31, 2007
Seldom in recent music history has talent been this misplaced. One of the few impressive vocalists to emerge in recent years, Fantasia can sink her teeth into a song like it's no one else's business. Even she cannot pump any life into the bargain basement compositions that weigh down her self-titled sophomore LP.
Lead single "Hood Boy" featuring Big Boi blares out of the speakers with a sharp, scatty performance and downright catchy sampling of "The Happening" by the Supremes. Still, her singing that a man of six-foot-four, 225 pounds is the "only kind of dude I'm demandin'" not only advocates discrimination, but it directly contradicts the messages of self-worth and empowerment that follow it.
The most obvious contradiction is the Diane Warren-composed "I Feel Beautiful." Aside from being a perfectly average little ballad with as many clichés as a Hallmark commercial, it states:
"You tried to make me feel worthless/Now I know I'm not/My worth is priceless/I got back my pride/I took back my life."
Apparently, everyone is allowed to feel worthwhile - except for a man shorter than six-foot-four.
Even more hypocritical are the overwhelming batch of tracks that make Fantasia sound like the spokeswoman for NOW. "I'm Not That Type," "Uneligible," "Not the Way That I Do," "Two Weeks Notice" "Baby Makin' Hips, "Bump What Ya Friends Say" and "Bore Me (Yawn)" all find her gunning to be the new age Helen Reddy. Why would a woman of such abundant independence and sense of self still employ the checklist of demands in "Hood Boy?"
Subject matter aside, "Fantasia" strikes many a bland key. Bubbly ballads like "When I See U" and "I Nominate U" are only pushed to mildly entertaining levels because Fantasia is a classy, capable vocalist, better than many singers with less limited ranges - that's right Christina. Still, "Not the Way That I Do" suffers from obnoxious repetition and a heart attack-inducing pace, while "Baby Makin' Hips" is lyrically hazy. Other tracks would barely suffice as B-sides, much less album tracks.
The few shining moments, however, glitter better than gold. "I'm Not That Type" and "Two Weeks Notice" may be her best recorded performances to date. Her vocal prowess is pristine, show-stopping and completely listenable, the latter in particular. Complete with jazzy instrumentation and an exceptional backing chorus that provides a flashback to late 80's/early 90's adult contemporary ballads, it would blow her detractors to dust if it became the massive hit it should be. "Surround U" is also an addictive little ditty destined for the radio waves.
While it is no runaway success, "Fantasia," like her 2004 debut "Free Yourself," is full of promise. She may be a formidable talent full of tremendous potential and her own sense of style, but a good career is built on solid material. With more of that next time around, she will be better equipped to release a solid LP.