Fantasia--one of the greatest contestants from "American Idol," who is about to release her excellent fourth album, Side Effects of You--incredibly won the show nine years ago, and much has changed since her Season 3 victory. Until recently, Season 3 had been the most girl-powered season in "Idol" history (the only season to feature a girl-vs.-girl finale and an all-female top three), and soon after that season, "Idol" became a very male-dominated affair. But now, in Season 12, we have an all-female top five, which makes it so fitting that Fantasia is returning to the show to perform this Thursday.
Swinging by Yahoo! while in L.A. this week to discuss her evolving career and the evolution of "Idol," Fantasia was reluctant to name her favorite Season 12 contestant, but she did coyly remark, "Let's just say there's a young lady on there that's right around the corner from me, South Carolina [Editor's note: She means Candice Glover, y'all], and I think she's pretty good!" But Fantasia had advice for all five girls, telling them, "Keep good people with you, stay focused, and don't let the industry or anyone try to change you. Be who you are, and actually enjoy this."
As for memorable male contestants, Fantasia revealed her lingering soft spot for last year's Joshua "Mantasia" Ledet, with whom she performed an intense duet on the Season 11 finale. "I thought he was going to take it. I'm still waiting on him to make an album, because he is amazing. I still text him from time to time--I want to make sure he's working on the album! To me, he reminds me so much of an Al Green, all of those singers we grew up on, like the Marvin Gayes. We gotta have an album from him!" As for whether she'd appear on that album, Fantasia enthusiastically answered, "Oh, yes! If he asked me, I would do anything for him, because he's one of those singers that moves me. "
Giving her opinion of this year's new "Idol" judges, Fantasia admitted she'll always miss Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul from her era, but said, "Mariah [Carey] is a legend; she is music, point blank period," and defended Nicki Minaj with: "I like her. I like that she's different. I happen to be the same kind of person. I do what I like, I do what I feel. And that's how she is."
Watch the entire video above for talk of Fantasia's future acting plans; whether or not there will be a third season of VH1's "Fantasia For Real"; her new album ("I think I finally made the album that Michael Jackson did with Quincy Jones"); and whether she's as nervous to sing in front of Mariah Carey as Kelly Clarkson was last week. And look out for a more in-depth, less "Idol"-centric Fantasia interview in Yahoo! Music's Hip-Hop Media Training column next week, just in time for Side Effects of You's release!