Queen Aziza will be contending with ten other finalists, rather than nine, when she takes to the stage for the Pic-O-De-Crop Final on August 5.
Two unnamed calypsonians tied for that ninth spot in Friday night’s semi-final at Kensington Oval, that saw some predictable names entered for the big occasion, at least one omitted who might have cause for gripe and at least one questionably included.
Those gaining the favour of the judges were Classic, Observer, Sir Ruel, Colin Spencer, Chrystal, Donella, Edwin, IWeb, Smokey Burke and Adrian Clarke.
The calypsonians were judged on the criteria of melody (40 points), lyrics (35), rendition (15) and arrangements (ten) and there were some who would have scored well in some categories and not-so-well in others.
Observer has returned to the Pic-O-De-Crop finals and if anyone knows the man, presenting sweet melodies is his forte and in both Socio-Party and Patriot, he remained true to his traditions. His rendition of Patriot would have gained him significant credit on the score sheets and the song was also strong lyrically.
Though some consider his second song the weaker of the two, there was no discernible weakness in it lyrically or melodically. Perhaps because of its up-tempo nature, closer attention will have to be paid to enunciation to ensure rendition is top rate. On Friday night Observer handled that aspect of the song rather well and his inclusion appeared a given long before it was made official.
Sir Ruel performed well in both Run Fuh Cover and Not My Vote. Neither songs could really be faulted for their melody but, lyrically, one seemed to be a continuation of the other. That might not be a sin and variety was not one of the criteria. However, two songs thematically similar were a bit much.
Burke’s inclusion was thoroughly deserved. His Poor Trait is an object lesson in the clever use of language and he must have scored better than most in the category of lyrics. The quality of his rendition, the melody of the song and its arrangements were of a standard that once he did not foul up in the second half with Persona Non Grata he was certain to advance. He didn’t foul up.
IWeb personified class in both segments of the competition with Salesman and For The Souls and on this course seems a good bet to finish among the top three come final’s night . . . if not, at the top. The selections were strong in all categories with the latter, especially, looking at the pain and deprivation occasioned by fatal vehicular accidents, an absolutely riveting piece of work.
Showing similar vocal prowess during his performance was Edwin who has been out of the competition even longer than Observer. Edwin is a class act in any company in the calypso genre and he delivered in both Beggar and Tax-He. Rendition, melody and arrangements would have been his strong areas in both. Beggar was strong lyrically and though some questioned the logic of Tax-He, it obviously didn’t confuse the judges. Some at Kensington Oval said the movement from the layer of taxation to that of an individual travelling in a taxi was not properly meshed in clear, structured terms. But that could be debated ad nauseam. Simply put, Edwin merited his inclusion.
Classic will always score well with his melodies, his rendition is not always the best, and his songs, lyrically, are more often than not frequently up to par. His offerings this year of If Yuh Don’t Know and Divorce were quite pleasing melodically but if 35 points were up for grabs for lyrics, it would be interesting to see how he scored in that category. His point was made in both songs but still, they were somewhat lyrically pubescent.
Adrian Clarke’s first class rendition of both My Opinion and More Love enhanced two songs that were unspectacular but very passable. Chrystal was in excellent voice in Too Big Fuh De Horse and Claim Barbados Back and would have garnered significant currency in the categories of rendition and melody. Donella’s Virtual and Make A Change were also well rendered and carried good melodies. However, like Chrystal, she must guard against a degree of annual thematic sameness in both competition songs. Different titles do not translate into different themes.
Colin Spencer’s Last Vote has been getting much mileage over the airwaves and on the night familiarity helped in terms of crowd response to his performance. Though his second selection Belated Birthday Greeting might not have received a similar response, it was arguably the better of his renditions, congratulating Barbados on its 50th year of Independence and giving reasons why the salutation was being given a year later.
Of those not making the cut, Billboard and Charisma could have reason to feel somewhat disappointed. The latter in particular with Women Moving On and Miss Bimsha had her best showing ever in the competition. Amazing Dre impressed in the first half with Trading Places but was always destined to run into problems with Alternative Facts. Forty points were on offer for melody and that song was arguably the weakest in melody of the 36 calypsos performed on Friday night.
The problem started with the writing of the song. One line has the five syllabic word al-ter-na-tive-ly along with pop-u-la-riz-ing – and other words to boot – and the singer found himself trying to enunciate this verbosity that hurt the song’s melody. And in terms of the overall structure of the song, this long-windedness was the rule, not the exception. In writing verse word choice is critical.
Franswaa’s first foray into the big time was somewhat of a disappointment. His diction was not the best – surprisingly – because he usually has no problems in that area. But on Friday night this shortcoming affected his rendition and he would have gotten a minority of those 15 points on offer in both Master De Bait and Thanks. It was a pity as his second song, in particular, was quite a creditable effort.
Others facing the judges were Sammy G, Mr Blood, the highly promising Miss AC and Jamal Slocombe. The latter has immense potential and looks a strong contender in the making.