My view of the 2016 Calypso Finals
What a wonderful jobs the judges di when they selected what I thought was the best nine competitors for the calypso finals this weekend. I will not comment on songs in the competition for obvious reasons; however, I will take the liberty to mention a few things about one or two of the artistes who fell.
I believe the second group of persons who judged the Semis seemed to have been more on point with their judgment as a few calypsonians who placed high on the judge's sheets for lesser compositions and, in some cases performances, received the deserving judgement.
Firstly there is something called mood and appropriateness with respect to lyrics and melody but in a particular beat/ tempo. One can't do justice to a song which is evoking sad sentiments in lyrics and is being rivalled by an up-tempo rhythm. I speak here of Daddy Chess' inappropriate use of mood in "I salute". He should have learnt, as a veteran, from Hunter's "Blood Clot" composition last year. Not only that the imagery of saluting is a sign of honor and respect which really is done for heroics displayed by soldiers and not to victims of storms.
In the case of Black Diamond, a youth with great promise, wonderful voice and melodious composition- but, the topic of "In my neighborhood" was not given the proper treatment. In fact it was all about Dorothy and sexual innuendo, so when the last line played this up it evoked a stir from the audience as something witty but it had to be cohesive with the rest of the lyrics. It was not even a pun as hood has nothing to do with "wood"; so one had to actually see Diamond perform to get where he was heading.
A strong composition explains itself and anytime a calypsonian has to use props or a skit before his performance to explain a song it suggest that the song is not well written and he feels people won't get it. If people don't then one has to go back and alter the lyrics and don't assume everyone else is dumb. I will not say more on this subject but for Calypso fans it is easy to follow the well written lyrics of Booplay, Checker, Shadow Flow, and Janae as the story line keeps to and develops, on the topic and gives an obvious conclusion, opinionated or otherwise.
The reigning Monarch has his work cut out as it's not the strongest Karessah I have heard, to put it mildly, but Calypso fans will have to more than just jump up as soon as an artist is announced and be aware of the elements being judged. One of the reasons persons are sometime apprehensive about Bobb or Webb, who when they do not come up in certain areas may compensate in melody, performance or rendition as was exhibited in the Semis.
I respect the analysis of Duncan Stowe, Daryl Titre, Ossie Lewis and Cecil Joseph as four of the best local Calypso commentators on radio; however, the latter really goes about it in a very transparent and systematic way for some years now providing listeners with his breakdown of points for each performer and the reason for his rational. This is great, I think, and what radio is all about even if you don't agree at least you can see where the guy is coming from. Too many patrons trend to be fans and not supporters. The supporter is the one that critically examines your work even if he wants you to win whereas the fan as in fanatic doesn't care what happens, you are the winner. I dare say the seven- times monarch has many fans and much fewer supporters.
In closing I wish to commend the Swinging Stars; I wish the band would really sound even better this year after being bolstered by their six man brass section of which three are young people in their early 20s.
Irish Kid, from where I sit, really does not have competition and I would be surprise if he is unseated as the standard of the competition has fallen over the past couple years while the accompaniment with added brass and recording has improved. This is something the DCA might want to look into and get more involved and support the Leo Club with mentoring and training as so many juniors have graduated to the seniors and are making a great impact. For example: there's King Dice, Observer and recently Janae and Sting Ray.