Fantasia Barrino's debut single opens at #14, as Diana DeGarmo's single waits in wings
By Wade Paulsen, 06/25/2004
Time for American Idol 3 to see if it can generate as much success at record stores as it did on the airwaves.
'I Believe', the debut single from Idol 3 winner Fantasia Barrino, who now goes by the single name Fantasia (a la Prince and Madonna), was released on Tuesday by J Records. A small number of outlets that put the CD single on sale before its actual release date led to 'I Believe' earning the #14 slot on the Nielsen SoundScan U.S. Singles Sales chart for the week ended June 20 ... similar to what happened in the week before release to the debut singles from Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, as well as to Clay's second single.
Fantasia's three-song CD single also features her renditions of the Gershwin classic 'Summertime' (from Porgy & Bess) and Aretha Franklin's 'Chain of Fools' -- with the Aretha cover showing the potential to dwarf the "hokey" 'I Believe,' just as Clay's cover of 'Bridge over Troubled Water' overshadowed his real A-side, 'This Is The Night.'
This week, the 'I Believe' CD single has hovered at #2 on the Amazon.com sales charts, just behind Wilco's new smash-hit A Ghost Is Born album. The question, though, is not whether Fantasia will reach #1, but rather whether she, like Clay (393,000 for first single; 100,500 for second single) , Ruben (286,000) and Kelly (236,000) will open with sales in the six-figure range ... and how high in that range will sales go.
We note that two other CD-singles are in the Amazon.com Top 25 right now: Clay's 'Solitaire'/'The Way' at #13 as it continues its push toward gold status for sales of 500,000 copies, and ... 17-year-old Idol 3 runner-up Diana DeGarmo's debut CD-single, 'Dreams' / 'Don't Cry Out Loud,' which is scheduled to ship from RCA Records on June 29, at #25. Looks like the Idol wave may not have peaked yet.
In addition to the double A-sides (with 'Dreams' getting top billing), Diana's single will include her version of 'I Believe,' which was recorded prior to the final vote and performed separately by Diana and Fantasia on the final shows of Idol 3.
While 'Dreams,' written by Desmond Child, Andreas Carlsson and Chris Braide, has authorship links to two of Clay's hits ('This Is The Night' and 'Invisible'), the more interesting performance may be her cover of Melissa Manchester's 'Don't Cry Out Loud,' a top-10 hit in 1979 for Clive Davis's Arista Records ... and the song current RCA Music Group head Clive chose for Diana to sing during the May 18 Idol 3 performances.
For her recorded version, Diana had a volunteer adviser giving her tips on how to redo the song: Melissa Manchester herself. It seems to have worked. "We remained faithful to the original version which became the basis of our new production, then we added Diana's vocals, recorded some new overdubs and mixed it," according to Steve Ferrera, Senior Vice President of A&R for RCA Music Group.
RCA is currently offering "Don't Cry Out Loud" for streaming through AOL's "First Listen" program. AOL users are able to hear the song by going to AOL Keyword: First Listen.
Both the Diana and Fantasia singles are also available for purchase through Wal-Mart's Music Downloads site for 88 cents per song. In a deal between the RCA Group and Wal-Mart, Fantasia's 'I Believe' will be exclusively available on the Wal-Mart site through June 28; Diana's 'Dreams' will be exclusively avaialbe from June 29 through July 5.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the Associated Press, Fantasia tells that she almost missed out on her audition slot in Atlanta because she went out to eat prior to her audition, but a security guard who had heard her singing karaoke saved her. On the first day of auditions in the Georgia Dome, the Idol producers had set up karaoke, and Fantasia, as well as several of the other Idol wannabes, took a turn singing.
On the second day, as the applicants were waiting their individual auditions, Fantasia "said, 'I can't sing on an empty stomach'" and went out to eat. When her group of about 25 came back, "they wouldn't let us back in," so she went to her cousin's house in Atlanta. Her family urged her to go back and try again, so she did. "I stood in front of the door and the security guard who heard me sing at the karaoke came to the door and said, 'Did you audition?' And I said, 'No sir.' And he said, 'Why not?' And I said 'They won't let me back in.' So he said, 'Oh, I gotta get you in.' He took me by my hand, took me in the building, and I was the last one on the field to audition."
No wonder Fantasia was perceived as a "diva" -- she demanded special treatment right from her audition. But she got it, too. Just more proof of the old adage, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again."