American Idol Top 30 Performances Of All Time: No. 11, Fantasia, “Summertime”
It might be the most surreal non-Norman Gentile performance on the countdown.
It has little to do with Fantasia Barrino, whose last name we won’t mention against because – be honest – did you really know it anyway?
It has everything to do with the No. 2 most unforgettable part of the clip – No. 1 being the performance.
What in the hell was Quentin Tarantino doing there?
Full disclosure, I was out of the loop in Season 3 and just knew Fantasia won. Compiling the Top 30, Fantasia was on every list I could find and watching the performance, this casually sexy rendition of “Summertime” is about an easy choice as there was, but watching the clip all I wanted to know is what in the hell the guy who did Pulp Fiction was doing judging a singing show?
Just Idol being Idol, I guess.
And speaking of Idols being Idols, here’s the No. 11 list on the Dudes Review Idol Top 30 Performance of All-Time list – the first and only mononymous winner in Idol history.
THE SITUATION: As I said, Season 3 isn’t one I can claim to be a professional at, so a lot of this is going to be second-hand information and fact.
Fantasia was a front runner from the start of the show. The judges loved her for her voice (something we don’t see anymore) and the fact she wasn’t a super-pop singer. She took everyone back to the days when lyrics dripped from singer’s mouths and the audience drank up every syllable.
She dominated early, but we get to the Top 8 and she hasn’t been Fantasia. She was still better than everyone, but wasn’t what everyone expected.
And then, with one song, she punched everyone in the face and took their lunch money.
HIGHLIGHTS: Laying down to sing? Really?
It was such a subtle move. You don’t anticipate much, but she’s relaxed and just starts belting notes. I mean, every single one is pumped out of the park. She starts stretching at 1:24, but her blend of control and power are undeniable. You almost want her to leap up and crush your face in with the notes, but she doesn’t give it to you.
The performance is a giant tease. From start to finish she sings for 1:38 and it’s the longest 98 seconds ever, but in a good way.
And I’d be remiss to ignore the second-best highlight – a puca-shelled Quentin Tarantino wearing what looks like a Cross Colors shirt (Google it) saying “that’s the bomb.” He was being so 90s in 2004.
WHY IT’S HERE: Randy said why. “I dawg got dawg to dawg give dawg you dawg props dawg ; that dawg was dawg the dawg single-best dawg Idol dawg performance dawg of dawg any season dawg I’ve ever dawg heard dawg.
(NOTE: I may have edited that a bit. Also, it should be noted this was about the time Randy turned into a caracture of himself and really became a clown).
Then, after crazy Paula and Quentin spoke, Simon nailed it: “You proved the point with that performance tonight why we are critical of people who just sing well. There was something magical about what you just did.”
(NOTE: He later added “I don’t think you’ve put those lips to better use” and based on what I know about 19-year olds, that may have been a stretch)
Say what you want about Fantasia’s post-Idol career, this performance is up there among the gold standard. You want to stand out, pull a Fantasia. People sing this song and are constantly compared to Fantasia. It’s dangerously close to the “Do Not Perform” list because there’s no way you can do it as good as it’s been done on the show.
The vocals were terrific, the stage presence was an originator and it was damn near close to a perfect performance. So why isn’t it higher?
Because at this point, everyone on this list is that good.
PREVIOUSLY: No. 12, David Cook, “Billie Jean”
NEXT UP: With the way they performed, it was a surprise they didn’t duet behind the scenes.