In this episode, Fantasia goes shopping…
To borrow a phrase from Fantasia’s fellow on-air talent: WERK!
We begin on Fantasia’s test face…
She’s about to go and sit for four hours to take a proficiency exam for her GED. She’ll be testing, but she already looks tested.
In order to prepare for her test, she removes her shoes, which: of course she does. Who doesn’t?
Surprisingly, the shoelessness doesn’t seem to help:
At least she’s animated there. Check out what the passage of time does to her spirit:
She says she “crashed.” When Tutor Tia goes through the test, asking Fantasia why she made specific mistakes, Tasia’s excuse is that she grew “tired and fidgety” while taking the test. Sad, but that’s life. This show isn’t called Fantasia for Appearances. It’s real.
And here’s something else that’s real:
…a return to joy. The sunlight beaming out of Tasia’s face can mean only one thing: she’s back in the studio.
And so she is. Making music is the perfect cure for being down in the GEDumps, and Fantasia’s got the grin to prove it. Maybe the best thing about this show is that it makes tangible the joy that comes from making art. We find Fantasia 100 percent thrilled 100 percent of the time that she is in the studio creating. With passion being such a rarity in pop music today, Fantasia in front of a studio mic is a glorious sight to behold.
Look at how excited she is just to be doing her job. If everybody were, the world would be such a more productive place.
She’s particularly pleased because she’s singing the product of studio riffing that came off the top of her collaborator Claude Kelly’s head. Fantasia’s newly assigned A&R guy Keith doesn’t like that they entered the studio without a plan. As Claude struggles with melody and theme, Keith reports that his “hit-o-meter” is getting negative reading…
The next day, when Keith returns to the studio to hear the finished product of Tasia and Claude’s collabo, it turns out that his hit-dar is off.
Not even Keith can deny the greatness of this mid-tempo banger. And so, joy is restored to all.
Next we find Tasia en route to the Soul Train Awards, where she’s set to perform. She employs choreographer Frank Gatson to give her some pointers on movement during her performance. He talks about her kicking her shoes off while she dances, and it takes me several mentions to realize that this is a bad thing. I thought it was yet another tangible sign of her passion! And as long as no one gets hurt, what’s wrong with a few flying shoes? Adds a degree of Cirque de Soleil-style ambiance, that’s what I say!
Tasia would seem to agree. She interviews, “Once I start singing, I just go. I don’t even remember what I did when I got through performing.” And then she gives us her that’s-so-Tasia face:
See? That’s so Tasia!
Anyway, Fantasia doesn’t really want to do the onstage moving that Frank is assigning. She mostly just plays with the curtains in her hotel room. It’s kind of adorable and child-like, actually:
Frank talks a lot about the Holy Ghost taking Fantasia “there,” while she performs. It would seem that “there” is where she wants to be (and by “there,” I mean “all over the place, often convulsing and flailing but always soulfully”). They move on to red-carpet demeanor. Frank says that he’s not just into choreography, but “gesture-ography.” Fantasia has much to learn. And also, much to smile about.
Clearly, we all do:
On the positive side, Frank teaches her ways to position her feet on the red carpet and it’s all very amusing and pageant-coachy, so all is not lost.
We then get a glimpse into how Teeny is making his money that will allow him to move out of Tasia’s house at the turn of the new year:
There’s his production setup.
There’s his rapper. Rapping in the closet. Literally, not figuratively, we can assume (although: can we?). Teeny has a very Southern-fried hand when it comes not just to production, but also to guiding his vocalist: he makes a chicken analogy to get the rapper to spice up an alternate take of a verse. We can assume that this chicken recipe is different from that which we heard about on last week’s Drag Race, and that his spice differs from that of Annie’s rap on this week’s A Basement Affair (although, again: can we?).
Anyway, Teeny receives his payment in cash, which is just wonderful as a prop to assist with his gloating:
That’s almost exactly Fantasia’s face when she’s creating music. Some people like making art, others like making money. What a gorgeously transparent contrast.
Aunt Bunny, who’s been invited along to witness this important event reports, “It wasn’t what I expected, but hey, you just can’t discount humble beginnings.” I know exactly what she’s saying, although “humble” is not the word I’d use for someone who implores his aunt to smell the cash he just made and then snatches it away from her.
Nope. Not humble at all.
We then see Tasia shopping for her Soul Train Awards outfit. This montage is as full of win as such a montage from an ’80s movie, and with winsome faces to boot:
Fantasia finally hits the awards show and remembers to do what Frank told her to do with her feet on the red carpet.
Again: more win!
She performs a tribute to Chaka Khan (covering “Tell Me Something Good”), and it’s obviously amazing.
“I’m comfortable with who I am and I know who I am,” Fantasia tells us. She’s such a unique character that her telling us this over footage of her singing someone else’s song matters not.