In 2004, Fantasia became the youngest contestant to ever win “American Idol” after delivering a scorching rendition of Summertime. After winning the competition, she quickly proved she had a future outside the show with her debut single, the chart-topping, double platinum-selling phenomenon, I Believe. Since then, she’s won multiple Grammys, sold almost 3 million albums, and become one of the biggest Idol success stories of all time. Here’s how we rank the 10 best Fantasia songs of all time.
10. Baby Mama
Kicking off our list of the top 10 Fantasia songs of all time is Baby Mama, a song dedicated by the singer to “all of those single moms out there who tough it out to take care of the kids and work two jobs, go to school.” Released as the third single from Fantasia’s debut album in May 2005, it hit number 16 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and number sixty on the Billboard Hot 100.
9. Lose to Win
Although Fantasia has emerged as much more than just another Idol contestant, she’s not averse to revisiting her showbiz roots from time to time. In April 2013, she returned to the show to promote Lose to You, the lead single from her fourth album, Side Effects of You. Her performance, which was praised by the judges as “dynamic, passionate and powerful,” helped seal the deal on the song’s success, sending it to number 2 on the US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart and number 38 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
8. I’m Doin’ Me
Described by The Boston Globe as an “insistent declaration of self,” I’m Doin’ Me is a bold, passionate examination of love in all its forms, delivered with enough conviction by Fantasia to see it climb to number 11 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.
7. Without Me
The 2013 album Side Effects of You was both a commercial success and a critical one, peaking at number 2 on the Billboard 200, number 1 on the R&B charts, and drawing an almost unanimously positive reception from critics, who, like the Los Angeles Times praised it as “sumptuous contemporary R&B dipped in vintage rock and soul.” Its second single, the electrifying Without Me, drew on the star power of guest artists Kelly Rowland and Missy Elliott to climb to number 26 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
As Billboard says, Fantasia’s distinct voice is most enjoyable when singing heartfelt ballads, something she proved in no uncertain way on the 2010 scorcher, Bittersweet. A slow-burning ode to lost love, its gut-wrenching vocals and plaintive piano proved a winning combination, taking Fantasia to number one on the US Adult R&B Songs chart and winning the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 2011 Grammy Awards.
5. Hood Boy
Described by All Music as the track that helped her shed her “American Idol” past and emerge as a vibrant, vital diva, Hood Boy, the opening track of Fantasia’s second album, is an uptempo R&B number that finds the singer pledging her devotion to thugs over a shimmering Supremes sample. A daring, electrifying romp blessed with a devilishly raspy vocal performance from Fantasia, Hood Boy made it to number three on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart on its release in November 2006.
4. When I See U
Fantasia’s self-titled second album may have drawn critical praise, but it failed to match the commercial successes of her debut, hitting number 19 on the Billboard 200 and selling a third fewer copies than its predecessor. But while the album itself floundered in the charts, its singles soared. When I See U, the second single from the album, spent an entire year on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (one of only 14 songs to ever do so), peaking at number 1. It also managed to pick up Grammy Award nominations for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song.
3. Truth Is
Following hot on the heels of Fantasia’s debut single, I Believe, came her second single from 2004’s Free Yourself, Truth Is. Although it didn’t manage to achieve the same level of success as its predecessor, it still became a big hit for the singer, reaching number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 2 on the Billboard Adult R&B 100 Chart. Over on the Billboard Adult R&B Airplay chart, it set a new record for the longest stay at number one by a female artist.
2. Free Yourself
Any new artist who manages to get Missy Elliott to contribute a song to their debut album is someone who deserves to be taken seriously. On the Missy Elliott/ Craig Brockman/ Nisan Stewart co-write Free Yourself, Fantasia left no doubt in anyone’s minds that she had a future beyond “American Idol” with a stunningly nuanced performance that showcased her powerful vocals to perfection. After reaching number three on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and number one on the Adult R&B Airplay chart, the song continued its roll of success by picking up the ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Award, along with Grammy nominations for Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
1. I Believe
Considering it was the song that won her the season 3 crown of “American Idol,” it was only fitting that Fantasia released I Believe as her debut single… and equally fitting that the song that propelled her to fame takes the number one spot on our list of the 10 best Fantasia songs of all time. Released in June 2004, I Believe became the biggest selling debut of the year in the US, where it peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, the R&B Single Sales chart, and the Single Sales chart. To date, it’s hit the number one spot on more charts than any other debut from an Idol contestant.