Ridiculous and a mockery of the calypso art form!
That’s how veteran calypsonian John King has dismissed the judge’s decision in this year’s Pic-O-De-Crop calypso final.
While making it clear that he had nothing personal against the eventual winner Ian Webster, King, who was a reserve competitor in Saturday night’s contest, was adamant that the judges got it wrong, and not for the first time.
“I am totally flabbergasted by this result,” King told Barbados TODAY immediately after the judges’ decision was announced early Sunday morning.
He pointed out that Webster utilised several borrowed lyrics from popular international songs in his first rendition of Karaoke, arguing that this should not have escaped the scrutiny of the calypso judges.
“ . . . There is no way under the sun that you are going to tell me, with all due respect to Ian Webster, my friend, I love him, but how can you judge a song that has so many other different songs coming in, as opposed to a man that has sprained his brain to come up with melodies and lyrics and [stuck] to a topic and whatever else, and tell me that that is better than something that somebody else started from scratch?
“I am sorry, I don’t buy into that,” said, a visibly upset King.
He acknowledged that there was nothing in the rule book to stop a calypsonian from borrowing lyrics, but was insistent that such behaviour should be reflected in the judges’ final scorecard.
“. . . how would you feel if I John King had to come on the scene to sing a song, and next thing you hear me singing a piece of [the American musical band] Earth Wind & Fire’s songs that everybody knows, and then you tell me that I win a calypso contest that is supposed to be an orginal song contest.
“We continue to make mock sport at art and creativity and the things that will put us in the limelight in terms of our own inventions. This is ridiculous,” King said.
The former monarch, who is retiring from calypso competitions, maintained that his comments were not born out of any bitterness or disrespect for Webster, but he was very adamant that “this is a ridiculous result”.
King, a performer in this year’s Big Show tent, watched the rain affected, five-hour presentation from the grounds of the Kensington Oval last night after he did not make the final ten. And based on the night’s performances, he said the crown should have been won by Adrian Clarke of Headliners “hands down”.
“There is no two ways [about this]. Good melodies, good performance, good songs. You cannot beat that. And original,” he said, adding that there was no reasonable explanation for the decision of the judges not to award Adrian Clarke the crown.
Therefore, he said, his longstanding argument that there needs to be more careful selection of calypso judges remains valid.
“These people that we pick to judge are they song writers? Answer no. Have they written anything of any repute that we can say, ‘well, people outside of Barbados, in the Caribbean, even next door in St Vincent recognise’? No. Are they entertainers? No. What right they got judging calypso?
“You got a panel full of people who does play church organ and all kind of nonesense. Sickening!
That was my position for years. It is a valid point.
“How do you arrive at the people that you are asking to judge calypso, cause this again is another travesty. It is worst than some of the things that happen in the past.”
King also took a swipe at Ronnie De Announcer Clarke for his two performances on the night, cautioning that “calypso had its own ethics, rules and regulations within which you work”.
“As soon as you start to get personal about calypsonians, other persons in the competition, I have a distinct problem with that. It is wrong!
He pointed out that while “Sparrow and [Lord] Melody, back in the 40s and the 50s and the 60s were at each other’s throat , and they did things, it was tasteful.
“This [local calypso] is becoming very distasteful. It is very low level. It is almost in my mind, gutter behaviour. And if this is what the people that are judging have a penchant for, then I am sorry, it says a lot about the society that we live in.”