Valerie Carter of St. Paul:

1 Charlie Wilson and Fantasia, State Fair. Though from different generations, they complemented each other with heartfelt singing and a genuine connection to the crowd.


2 Beyoncé, MTV VMA. Imagine re-creating the onstage magic of her stadium tour for a TV screen. A daunting task, but Beyoncé excelled and upstaged the other artists.


3 Fantasia, “The Definition of.” Her best effort so far. The album explores different genres — from funk to country.


Jon Bream of the Star Tribune:

1 Prince crop art, State Fair. Artists delivered inspired work on this obvious subject, including David Steinlicht’s “HitNRun” album cover and Nick Rindo’s lotus portrait.


2 Bruce Springsteen, Chicago. Even though it’s still the River Tour, he did only eight songs from “The River” and instead delivered a rockin’ good time. He had too much fun.


3 The Mavericks, Minnesota Zoo. On a steamy night, America’s best dance band kept an overflow crowd dancing the night away.