Urban Contemporary, 2013
Well, in the entertainment industry, when life almost gets you down, you turn the downer into a new movie or album. Side Effects of You is Fantasia’s way of telling the world that she’s alright and she’s now a stronger woman after the tumultuous time she’d been through in the last year or so.
Unsurprisingly, there are anthems about moving on from the lousy ex, no matter how hard doing so can be (Ain’t All Bad) or how she finally finds the strength to move on from a bad relationship (If I Was a Bird). There are also more conventional girl power anthems such as Without Me, where she brings in Missy Elliott and Kelly Rowland for maximum impact, and odes to love such as Change Your Mind (where she promises to cook for her man to a background track reminiscent of Whitney Houston’s I’m Your Baby Tonight).
But the most painful songs will have to be: Lose to Win, which is about how fear can trap one in a bad relationship and one must find the strength to walk away eventually; Haunted, which is about an abusive relationship; and the title track, which compares falling in love with developing an addiction.
The truth is, most of these songs can be quite derivative in nature, reminding me of every generic R&B track that has ever hit the radio. It is Fantasia’s fiery vocals that give these songs life of their own. There are times when it seems like she’s breaking down during the song itself – Side Effects of You, especially – and this lends a haunting poignancy to those songs.
When she finally lets herself go and lose herself completely in the anthem of strength, To the Heavens, it’s so easy to believe that Fantasia, after the catharsis of the songs that come before this one, is finally ready to take on the world again:
Let the red cuts speak for us
So they know what we have done
We are fearless, we are crazy, we are brilliant, we are one
Let them judge us if they want
But we’ve got love on our side
It’s so easy to believe that she knows very intimately what she is singing about.