by Latoya Burnham
It wasn’t quite the spectacle expected, but the Celebration Time Circus put on an overall good show for the judges last night at the Plantation Garden Theatre.
If we are to start with the most outstanding acts of the night, it would have to be Ras Iley, Sluggy Dan, and AC, with a question mark by Queen T for Pic-O-De-Crop possibilities, while Khiomal led the Party Monarch hopefuls, along with Richard Antonio and Ras Iley again.
Ras Iley, returning for his 30th year in calypso this year, was the energetic rasta many Bajans know and love as he delivered a comedic Pele Peppered, making obvious references to the court incident where an attorney turned his behind at a judge on the bench, but pulling into the song other elements of society as he gestured and pranced in Gabby-like fashion.
Sluggy Dan’s melodic voice in Who Is To Blame and again in Tricks Is The Name of Their Game set him apart as a Pic-O-De-Crop hopeful on a night where many younger males entered the party arena.
In the first song he posed several questions to the public about who is to blame for some of the ills now seen in society and even among the youth, while in his second song he touched on just about everything from what is wrong with politics to the fact that kaiso is in need of real supporters. Though both songs were well written and arranged, it remains to be seen what this lad could do with harder hitting material.
AC’s progression from the Junior Monarch stage to her bid for Pic-O-De-Crop contention was interesting to watch last night, as she delivered two solid performances. Her lyrics, rendition and presentation were on point in People Selling Dey Votes and The Struggle, and it was good to see someone young tackling political issues in the former song, where such material is usually left in this arena to the older males. She however returned to the stereotype many have reserved for women in The Struggle, though undoubtedly she did a good job with the song.
The reason Queen T would be left with a question mark after her two Pic-O-De-Crop offerings last night – Your Success Will Come and Outta Key, is because while she has a wonderful voice and can belt out a key with the best of them, some of the words in the both songs were lost beneath the band and the back-up added nothing to strengthen the songs. Also, her near wardrobe malfunction in the first song would have contributed an added distraction that could have been done without with more comfortably chosen outfits to allow more focus to be placed on her presentation.
Of note, returning after a few years away, Barry Chandler faced the Pic-O-De-Crop judges with As A King and Crop Ova, and while the second song is definitely a crowd favourite, the former left an unfinished and confusing taste in the mouth, as both are closer to party or groovy soca than social commentary.
The only other person to face the judges in that category was Rameses, who though he performed strongly in OK, was lacking in substance in Privileged which determined that having sun, rum, the ability to jump and wine were all privileges in Barbados and the island should throw its doors open and allow other to come in and take advantage of such.
While five attempted to get pass the judges with social commentary/slow party mixes – a whopping 11 contenders vied for places in the Party Monarch.
Khiomal represented well and had one of the cleaner performances of the night with De Recipe. Declaring he had the right Crop-Over recipe, he proceeded to mix and blend and was the first performer of the night to really get the hard-to-please crowd moving.
Richard Antonio, formerly known as Rusty opened the second half with Fan De Fyah, indeed a hot number that had a few feet tapping and earned him receptive applause from the audience.
Ras Iley’s party tune, the popular Dey Coming Down, closed the night on a high note and was quite obviously his best performance of the night as he thoroughly enjoyed the song along with his dancers.
Of special note was the very humorous and energetic performance of Fuhnominon with Soca Army. Dressed like a soldier, he wukked, jukked, spun and wined with military precision, and had the crowd balling in their seats, especially the female sections when he backed his shirt and got down and dirty to the catchy song.
Others to judge in the Party Monarch included Mr. Ink – Bumpa Waistline; Joaquin – Play Mas; Jafar – We Are The Best; Kirk Brown – Frenzy; Peter Ram – Breakaway.
Other performances included Sweet Soca semifinalist Tsi – Don’t Tell Nobody; Ras Iley and son, Young Iley – Turn It Up and Coopa Dan – Question of the Year.