Guest PLEASURE blogger
The stage, Northern Greens, Queen's Park Savannah, on Dimanche Gras night.
Yes folks, another year, another Dimanche Gras. The Kings and Queens of Carnival were really lackluster. And, well, the Divine Echoes were terrifying. Let's not even mention those weird musical interludes, complete with people dressed as plants dancing with a giant caterpillar. Amidst all that crap, the calypso provided treats. Here's how the songs went down, in order of appearance:
Mr. Shak - "Rogue"
Seemed somewhat handicapped by the replica assault rifle he was using as a prop and lacking the assurance the lyrics of the song demanded. However, this was a very brutal commentary on the seedier aspects of certain members of the police force. Would have benefitted from being slowed down; more calypso and less soca.
Skatie - "A cry for life"
A forthright presentation, but came across as hackeneyed moralising while not providing anything particularly innovative or enjoyable from a musical perspective. (That's called critical licks, dear readers).
Chalkdust - "When Mas was Mas"
Chalkdust used the Midnight Robber imagery to craft a biting criticism of the ruling government and the Wild Indian imagery for the Opposition in his usual Savannah Bomb drop. However his lyrical creativity can't hide the trademark melodical pedantry and you have to think this wasn't vintage Chalkdust.
Brian London - "A Calypsonian"
Started off badly by bringing Valentino to sing a whole verse and chorus of HIS (unsuccessful) semi-final presentation. However, picked up from there gradually in his trademark unpolished style to criticise the competition ethos and political bias among calypsonians. Nevertheless it was hard to shake the impression that there was not enough content in the song for the subject matter available. And well, let's face it, the calypso is not really one thing or the other; it is social commentary and democratic expression at its best.
Singing Sandra - "No Child Shall be Left Behind"
Typically miserabilist Sandra commenting on the various misfortunes afflicting children in our "developped country". However, while strong topically, this calypso is boring brass heavy and elicits no empathy for the poor children nor the one championing their plight.
Original De Fosto Himself "Palace State of Mind"
With his cheeky criticism of the Prime Minister's spending habits with a catchy latin dancish beat, the ODFH made a strong case for the crown. He left his Shouter headtie home and with it, his usual habit of overdoing his songs.
Protector - "My Vision"
In a counterpoint to the overlying doom and gloom, the ex-TUCO president preached (literally) a nation building prophecy calypso, musically well crafted, and with enough subtility to avoid being flag waving. Then he shot himself in the foot by the unnecessary and unnecessarily long sample of "I can see clearly now" with obligatory Baptist dance routine.
Sean Daniel - "God is Love"
Doubled melodious gospelypso - all you need to know about the Christian conception of faith in 5 minutes with a solid performance. Preachy by definition, and not Monarch material for unfortunately obvious reasons, but there isn't any one thing you can point at to keep it out of the top spots.
Devon Seales - "A Wind of Change"
In a strange twist, Seales decided against singing his clever catchy football analogy driven criticism of Karen Nunes Tesheira to suggest an innovative method of calypso judging. The potential for a clever, hilarious song was quickly lost as Seales' tenor voice drowned itself out in typically verbose fashion.
Mr. Chucky - "A People's National Movement"
Anti or pro PNM song? Hard to tell given the ambiguous title, and that takes away some of its impact. The sweet voice of Rolando Godon's son carries what is probably best interpreted as a PNM supporter's criticism of his party's biggest flaws, in a solid performance.
All Rounder - Female Life Guard (Dive)
Why this song made the creme de la creme of this year's calypsos is beyond me. Someone commented about the "ickyness" of a grown old man singing such an unsubtle double entendre with visual and vocal backup from his daughters (!!!) but even without those considerations, it's clear that the song has no substance other than mischief potential. Should have stayed in the tent.
Twiggy - "Give Thanks"
Your standard optimistic African-leaning drumming and steel percussion celebration song. If you live in T&T the reasons given for the celebration ring hollow, but melodically, the performance stands up.
Kizzy Ruiz - "Aidez Haiti"
As it was written, it was her competition to lose. This was a powerful well crafted lyrical composition on a consensual topical subject, sung by a great performer with a great vocal range (aided by echo effects which some may consider more hindrance than help). By the end of her performance on Sunday night there really was no contest.
Nicole Greaves - "Where the Lions Are"
An interesting ditty about the lack of father figures in black families and its deleterious effects in society. This song wants to be powerful, but can't quite get around the Junior Calypso feel of its music, and so the singer comes across as just a Sandra wannabe.
Kurt Allen - "They Too Bright"
Excellent presentation, coming on as a Woodford Square vagrant to execute his ironic commentary on the increased qualifications of our political elite versus their diminishing returns. The attempt to make the earlier versions of the song more polished was welcome, and made this a much closer fight for first place.
MY PICKS: 1st: Kizzy Ruiz 2nd: Kurt Allen (possible tie for first) 3rd: De Fosto
THE WINNERS: 1. Kurt Allen; 2. Brian London; 3. De Fosto
*Fédon Honoré, a guest PLEASURE blogger, is a Midnight Robber. Find out more about him here.