Sunday 15 December, 2019

Soca Royale finalists hesitant to return to single competition

The Soca Royale crowd at Bushy Park on Sunday.

The Soca Royale crowd at Bushy Park on Sunday.

Some of the finalists in Sunday’s Party Monarch and Sweet Soca competitions have reservations about suggestions to return to the days of a single competition.

Earlier this month, CEO of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), Cranston Browne, told Loop News that consideration was being given to having a single competition in 2018.

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“This is something that we want to put to the stakeholders – that next year we look at one competition; no difference between Party Monarch and Sweet Soca,” he said, adding, “I think the artistes themselves, they have been saying to us that we should do one competition because as I said, the only difference is the beats per minute but a song is a song; music is music.”

Speaking to Loop News backstage at the Soca Royale event on Sunday night, some artistes were hesitant about such a move.

TC, who was the very first Sweet Soca Monarch in 2009, said music follows a cycle and competitions should not be altered with every up and down.

“When we had the one competition, Party was at a high then so they said ‘Let’s give the ragga socas an opportunity to come forward’. But that didn’t necessarily need that because the music was emerging anyway. It was going to come to the fore at any point in time,” she said, highlighting some of the slower soca tunes that would have placed highly in the previous single Party Monarch format.

She opined that “it’s been a couple years that Party has been on the decline”, but the tide will eventually turn again.

“Music changes; music always has cycles. So we just have to understand that Party right now is in a cycle where it’s not necessarily at the top… We just have to let it go through the cycle and not confuse the public and the artistes,” she concluded.

This view was supported by newly crowned Sweet Soca Monarch, Red Plastic Bag, who said, “We have to first of all examine the reasons why we split them in the first place. I don’t just like jumping from one thing to the next. We have to try and work out what was the reason for splitting them in the first place.”

They also both indicated that the prize money should increase.

“The only way I’m going back to one competition is if the money that was going into the other competition goes back and the prize money gets better,” asserted TC.

Meanwhile, RPB said he would like to live to see the day that a performer receives a $100,000 cheque for winning a soca or calypso competition.

Other artistes weighing in on the issue with Loop were Marzville and Edwin Yearwood.

Marzville, who has competed in the Sweet Soca competition, believes the separation should remain.

“I think the two competitions are good because there are two different tempos so I don’t think you should mix the two to judge them since it’s different emotions you’re dealing with,” was his view.

Meanwhile, Yearwood, a two-time Sweet Soca Monarch and five-time Party Monarch, was not too keen on the idea of merging the two competitions again.

 “I don’t know how I feel about that. I’ve gotten used to them having more than one car to give us,” he joked.

He continued, “I think a lot of people are burying the up tempo Party Monarch but I think that it will get back on its legs. A lot of work needs to be done but it will get back there.”

“Personally, I would leave it as two [competitions]. It doesn’t augur well for the development of the music because… sweet soca will win on melodies sometimes but the Party Monarch will always win on energy. It’s a different thing altogether – almost a different genre.”

RPB also pointed to the impact of competition on the music itself, saying regulations can stifle creativity.

He explained, “If there’s one thing I don’t like about how the competitions are now is the fact that there are 10 bpms (beats per minute) between Sweet Soca and Party that are actually dead. So it’s encouraging you either to write a song 130 and down or 140 and up, but I believe that if you’re creating a song a competition should not determine the tempo that you’re going to put a song at. You have to put it at the tempo that is best for the song. So we have to be careful how much we’re excluding with those 10 bpms because in our effort to protect the two competitions, we might be stifling creativity.”

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