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BARBADOS - National Cultural Foundation
Reflections on this year’s calypso competitions
Web Posted - Fri Aug 06 2004
By David Hinkson
Let me start by congratulating the winners of this year’s calypso competitions, and like Ken Clarke of the Super Gladiators tent, I am pleased that there were “no hat tricks” this year. The possibility of one hat trick was ruled out fairly early in the season when Red Plastic Bag announced that he would be sitting out the Pic-O-De-Crop contest, and Li’l Rick’s music was totally disappointing this year.
Edwin’s victory at Party Monarch surprised me as I honestly thought the title would go to Timmy or Mikey, but Edwin’s years of experience on the East Coast stage may have made all the difference at the end of the day. However, I do not think he has anything to prove by going into the contest again and, as Alison Hinds did a while ago, he should probably stop campaigning.
I was also curious as to how some of the better party songs this year did not make it to the East Coast. I understand Major Shakkey did not get into a tent, but his “Rubber Waist” would definitely have been a contender for the title had he qualified. Other songs that really should have made it were De Doc’s “Saltfish”, which had a nice melody, and Popsicle’s “Pirate’s Anthem” which got good response at the Cavalcades and was one of the season’s earlier hits. These artists would also have been a welcome departure from the Edwin and Alison Hinds clones that filled their spaces.
In terms of Pic-O-De-Crop, Kid Site’s victory at the Stadium came as no surprise since from the time I first heard his songs at Bacchanal Time’s recording and judging night I sensed he would be the man to beat this year. Of the other contestants, I had my reservations about TC’s material from the very start, but I believe it may be just a matter of time before she finally comes out on top. Observer did surprisingly well despite the outdated nature of “May 21” and the similarities of “Firepower” to the work he did over ten years ago. Romeo and Smokey Burke gave good accounts of themselves, with the latter having two of the strongest songs in the contest. Mr. Dale handled himself well, as expected, and I believe he is another “king in waiting”. Lady Richard handled herself well for a first-timer, but like the other performers in her tent she needs a lot more work before she can be taken seriously in the calypso arena.
Mr. Impact is highly reminiscent of Adrian Clarke in his early days; he is a good performer with a good voice waiting for decent songs to complement him. Clarke himself may need to sit out the competition for a couple of years and try to get back on track, because he has grown progressively weaker since his victory in 2001. Ishiaka McNeil still has a long way to go in the calypso arena but he comes across as someone persistent who will keep trying until he gets there.
The Junior Calypso Monarch competition was of a high standard this year, but such a forum was inappropriate for a display of condoms, even if they were there to illustrate a song one of the contestants was performing. And as I said in a previous column, even if there is a high level of sexual activity among secondary school students, a song with highly mature lyrics such as “Condomise” had no right whatsoever in a children’s competition, especially since it was also being judged for Pic-O-De-Crop. I believe the contest should have a cut-off age of 16 once again, since by the age of 18 some youngsters have already entered the world of work and parenthood.
As Kya showed this year, the more mature singers are also strong enough to hold their own in the big leagues. In fact, in 1985 before there was a Junior Monarch contest, Blood (or Young Blood, as he was known then) took part in a Pic-O-De-Crop Final with the likes of Gabby, Commander, RPB, Adonijah and Johnny Ma Boy (John King) when he was all of 17 years old.
I am glad to see that newcomer Mikey won the Road March contest with one of the better songs in a year where party music was plentiful, but for the most part it ranged from mediocre to “how did this get into circulation?” A classic example of the latter would be the Bashment Men’s remodelled Inter-School Sports chant “I Feel So Good”, which probably appealed to the revellers on the road for all the wrong reasons. I really hope the quality of music next year is better than what we experienced in 2004.
Compliments of the Barbados
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