It was a year when the competition was hot, hot, hot.
In the end, two nation-building songs — one by Edwin Yearwood, the other by Lil Rick — emerged at the top of the pack.
The choice was actually quite fitting as Barbados this year is celebrating 50 years of Independence.
While there can be only one winner in a contest, all the competitors in last Sunday’s Soca Royale should take a bow for a job well done. The music was of a high standard and the crowd, described as the largest one in a long time, was simply fantastic.
Overall, the consensus was that it was a great show and the artistes themselves agreed.
First time finalist Nikita deserves to be commended for doing a fantastic job and for representing the ladies. She told Bajan Vibes she had a great time on stage.
“It was good. I was a little nervous at first but from the time I hit the stage, that was gone. Everything didn’t go as planned but I had a good time. The energy from the crowd was amazing. It felt good,” she said.
The Bun It Up singer went on: “Despite what happened, I had an absolute blast on stage. I came up with the concept, I had so many ideas [because] I just didn’t want to look like an amateur since it was my first time…”
Also performing for the first time at Soca Royale was Joaquin who made it clear he would not trade the experience for the world.
“It was a good performance. I loved the energy. It was a really good feeling going up against the big names in the soca arena and I think I did well,” he said. “Before I got on stage, the people were just chanting my name and I think they received the song well.”
Damien Marvay, who was also performing in front of the big crowd for the first time, described the feeling as unbelievable.
“I’m in a daze. I won’t say I don’t care about winning but I didn’t fail and I feel good. I know the people love the song and at the end, I was just glad to see happy faces and not sour faces. I was prepared. I was focused. It felt good every time I looked around,” said Marvay who took the 2016 Barbados TODAY Soca Champion crown.
Mistah Dale, who suffered a slight hiccup before his song in the Sweet Soca competition, said he thoroughly enjoyed the experience and was glad he made it on to the stage. He placed fourth.
“It’s great for me in that I was ill over the last week and a half. I had a really bad sinus infection and I had no voice. I barely made rehearsals but I must commend the band for making time for me to do rehearsals. You have to be prepared for everything so the glitch didn’t bother me at all,” he said.
Mikey, who performed in both competitions, said he had fun on stage and also enjoyed the crowd. “We had some nice little quirky things in it. One or two fireworks didn’t go off but that’s ok. The dancers enjoyed it, the people enjoyed it and I certainly did. It sounded good to me so all is well,” he said.
Mikey, who placed fourth in the Party Monarch competition, said the music overall this year was at an extremely high level. “Everyone is bringing their A-game and stepping out of the box. I think it’s a very keen competition. People are starting to realize which song is the biggest song; it comes down to the performance on the night,” he added.
The 2016 Party Monarch Lil Rick also enjoyed the show, saying it reminded him of the days on the East Coast where the Soca Royale competition used to be held up to about six years ago.
“Really enjoyed myself on stage and it’s a long time I haven’t done that. Last time I had this feeling was East Coast. This year I came to win this competition. That was my mission. It came off good and I hope that I win,” he said before the results were announced.
Lil Rick said it was particularly an honour for him to sing “I’z a Bajan” in the nation’s Golden Jubilee year. “I’m a real Bajan. I have been representing Barbados since I did Hardwine and I don’t plan to stop. 50 is a special mark for everyone so I said let me do this for the 50th,” he said.
Rick said the music this year in the Sweet Soca competition was just brilliant. “Sweet soca was great. All the singers performed great. From the first to the last, they were good. The Sweet Soca is a hard one to judge,” he said.
Rick also said watching his son Supa Hype perform in the pre-show made him extremely proud. “A dad could only be proud to see his son singing his songs, I want him perform his songs like how he performed my songs. I give him a song every year, songs that I would sing myself so I just need for him to believe in himself a little more. But he’s still young (and) he will get there,” he said.