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In Defense Of Fantasia

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

In my last American Idol blog, I lavished praise on the fierce and fearsome elimination-night performance by season 3 Idol winner Fantasia Barrino.

Well, after browsing through the comments on that blog, it seems like a LOT of readers didn't agree with me. Some people even thought that was my trademark sarcasm at work. But I wasn't joking, dear readers. I love me some Fantasia. And I loved that controversial performance.

Allow me to explain.

On Wednesday night, a newly fuchsia-haired Fantasia belted out a song called "Bore Me." Well, she didn't bore me, that's for sure. There have been plenty of moments on American Idol this season that have bored me, but the three minutes Fantasia was rocking the stage (and doing the unthinkable: rendering Simon Cowell speechless) certainly were not among them.

Nope, "boring" is not an adjective that will probably ever be used to describe Fantasia, at least not by me. Fanny shook her fanny (or, to quote one of her song titles, her "Baby Makin' Hips") and totally owned that stage. She came out and simply killed it. She didn't play nice and sweet; that's not her style. Because, let's face it, this chick is a bit of a weirdo. In a good way. That was obvious way back when she showed up to her audition with that Grace Jones hairdo and those Marlene Dietrich eyebrows. I knew right then and there this lady was just itching to let her freak-flag fly.

But after she won the Idol title, the 19 Management/BMG honchos tried, desperately, to keep Fantasia's freak-flag firmly furled. She was forced to croon treacly, relatively personality-free, wannabe-Celine ballads like "I Believe" and "Truth Is," which subsequently suppressed her fabulous inner freak. Now, on her self-titled, more funky-diva-ish second album--which features sassier soul workouts like "Bore Me" and her criminally underrated single "Hood Boi"--Fantasia is showing her true colors (sometimes literally, like on her aforementioned neon-pink-dyed head). And that's what I love about this gal.

You know, Fantasia's autobiography and Lifetime Network movie were both titled Life Is Not A Fairytale. Well, Fantasia isn't a fairy-princess type, either. She is a true original, unapologetically herself. She's not a sweet girl-next-door type like Kelly or Jordin or Carrie (not that I don't love those Idols too), and she's not trying to be. Good for her, I say. I for one hope Fantasia never changes...unless it's to become even freaky-deakier. Seriously, let her shave her dang head. Let Carly Smithson's husband ink her with 10 facial tattoos. Let her gain so many pounds she weighs more than two Ruben Studdards. I'll still support her. She'll still be Fantasiastic to me.

This is why all those disgusted post-performance comments and Simon's bug-eyed silent treatment surprised me. But hey, at least some wise fellow music scribes agree with my pro-Fantasia stance. Like Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times, quoted here:

"A special thanks to Fantasia Barrino for reminding Idol viewers what musical excitement looks and sounds like with her fiery, funky rendition of "Bore Me (Yawn)," from her last album. Unpredictable, raw, dangerously close to chaotic, Fantasia's performance recalled how the best music on television once felt--like something breaking through the screen. Simon, of course, looked horrified. Thank goodness he wasn't a judge at Janis Joplin's audition."

Good for you, Ann. And good for you too, Fantasia. You just let that freak-flag fly and ignore the haters.

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