Monday 15 July, 2019

VIDEO: Keenly contested Pic-O-De-Crop semis

The 10 finalists in the Courtesy/Mount Gay Pic-O-De-Crop competition.

The 10 finalists in the Courtesy/Mount Gay Pic-O-De-Crop competition.

The semifinals of the Courtesy/Mount Gay Pic-O-De-Crop competition was a keenly contested affair, with some calypsonians bringing picong, costuming, props and choreography that is often reserved for the finals.

With 18 calypsonians performing two songs each, the judges and patrons buckled in for what was the season’s longest night in kaiso. It was a smooth ride as the show moved swiftly along with little delay between acts, as the judges scored them on melody (40 points), lyrics (35 points), rendition (15 points) and arrangement (10 points).

Led by Band Director Keith Ellis, the Festival Band never missed a beat all night and the backup singers enhanced the performances with their wardrobe and dramatisations. 

In the end, it seemed nothing beats experience as reigning monarch Aziza will be fending off challenges from a lineup of calypsonians who are no strangers to the big stage and includes former monarchs, iWeb, Adrian Clarke, Classic and Edwin Yearwood.

After a 20-year absence from the Pic-O-De-Crop, Yearwood secured his spot in the finals with what has been a successful formula for him in that competition. His slow and soulful ‘Beggar’ paired with the uptempo ‘Tax-He’ were well-received by the audience and ultimately found favour with the judges as well.

Other finalists with strong performances in both halves of the show were Observer, Classic, Donella and iWeb. The last three, in particular, brought audience members to their feet, dancing and singing along to their songs, with their superb delivery featuring clear diction and musicality, clever phrasing and punchy lyrics.

Sir Ruel continues to represent for the ‘young brigade’ who have come through the ranks of the Junior Calypso Monarch competition. He secured his spot in the finals with ‘Not My Vote’ and ‘Run Fuh Cover’, two songs that generated some buzz earlier in the season when it became known they had been banned from radio.

Pic-O-De-Crop semifinals

However, the finals stage still remains elusive for former Junior Calypso Monarch, Sammy G. Charisma, Ms AC and Jamal Slocombe were also found wanting by the judges, though it must be said that Slocombe stood out as one with a high-energy stage presence and a powerful, melodic voice. Meanwhile, having delivered his usual high standard of rendition with good diction and voice, some would be surprised not to see Mr Blood in the final lineup.

Nonetheless, Slocombe and Mr Blood’s tent mates from De FirstCitizens/Digicel Big Show dominated the finals lineup, securing half of the 10 spots. All Stars Calypso Tent and House of Soca have two calypsonians each in Colin Spencer and Donella, and Observer and Sir Ruel, respectively. Smokey Burke will battle it out as the sole Gladiator in the finals.

Overall, the semi-finalists brought good quality kaiso, with no one sticking out like a sore thumb. However, poor diction could have been the downfall of some performers, forcing the listener to concentrate carefully to hear the lyrics of the songs. Others suffered from occasional pitch issues.

At the final tally, there was a tie in two of the scores, resulting in there being no reserve going forward. Instead, 10 finalists have been selected to face Aziza in the finals, slated for Kensington Oval on August 5.

Colin Spencer (All Stars)
Donella (All Stars)
Adrian Clarke (De Big Show)
Chrystal (De Big Show)
Classic (De Big Show)
Edwin (De Big Show)
iWeb (De Big Show)
Smokey Burke (Gladiators)
Observer (House of Soca)
Sir Ruel (House of Soca)

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