By Wade Gibbons
Nine calypsonians will leave Kensington Oval very early tomorrow morning happy to be going forward to the Pic-O-De-Crop Final, while nine will depart pondering on what mistakes they – or the judges – might have made.
Tonight’s Pic-O-De-Crop semi-finals should be a keen contest with several bringing terrific material to the stage, enhanced by their singing ability and the comfort with which they not only perform but communicate with the audience.
The semifinalists are: Adrian “AC” Clarke, Anita “AC” Charles, Classic, Franswaa, Amazing Dre, Mr Blood, Chrystal Cummings Beckles-Holder, Observer, Smokey Burke, Charisma, J-Slo, Sammy G, Colin Spencer, Donella, Billboard, Edwin, iWeb and Sir Ruel.
They will appear with varying degrees of performing experience but none is new to the big stage. Newcomers Charisma has been previously involved in the competition and the performing arts, Charles has been involved in the Junior Monarch competition and Franswaa has performed in the Pic-0-De-Crop arena for more than a decade.
During the preliminary tent judging stage, it was quite evident that some contestants had better quality material than others. It was also quite apparent that some of the artistes had such stage acumen that they made average material sound quite amazing.
Most of the songs have recurring themes with Government coming in for plenty licks in several of them, while others deal with youth deviance and crime in general. Humour, as has almost become habitual, is lacking in most of the compositions.
Burke’s Poor Trait is one of the better-written songs this year. IWeb’s Salesman and Cry For The Soul are arguably the best pairing of songs in the semifinals. Edwin’s Tax-He and Beggar are also an excellent pairing and he can be expected to perform them with absolute professionalism. Observer is another with two excellent offerings in Patriot, a simply sweet selection, and Socio-Party, which is a number that merits close listening to, even while grooving to its terrific melody.
Amazing Dre has a lovely song in Trading Places but Alternative Facts, though interesting is not of the same quality. Colin Spencer is also bringing much quality to tonight’s stage with Last Vote and Belated Birthday Greetings.
Singing ability does not necessarily guarantee advantage in the performance of calypsos but it does not hurt. Thus the likes of Adrian Clarke, J-Slo, Chrystal, Mister Blood and Donella must be added to Edwin and IWeb as those whose vocal prowess could make the difference tonight. During the judging of De Big Show, Blood’s brilliant rendition put such life into his offerings that one almost forgot that Memo was a bit of déjà vu.
Tonight, all the performers are equal, but as they say on the calypso farm, some calypsonians are more equal than others. Expect familiar names and very few surprises to go after Queen Aziza’s crown
My picks to advance based on what has been heard previously are: Smokey Burke, IWeb, Edwin, Colin Spencer, Observer, Mr Blood, Donella, Billboard and Adrian Clarke.