Tonight 44 performers will grace the Kensington Oval stage for ‘Phenomenal Friday’.
The stage is set and the competitors are eagerly anticipating the eight-hour battle as soca’s crème de la crème fight it out in the Party Monarch and Sweet Soca semifinals, as well as in the finals of the Yello International Bashment Soca Competition.
Twelve performers will be contending for the $80,000 grand prize on the bashment soca stage, while 32 artistes, 16 in Sweet Soca and 16 in Party Monarch, will compete for a chance to be on the Bushy Park Soca Royale stage on June 29.
Ahead of tonight’s big event, Jagwa De Champ told Barbados TODAY he was elated that he finally made it to the bashment soca finals. Last year, his song Ride was disqualified, and in the inaugural year of the competition he failed to take the prize with his song ‘Back It Up’.
“I feel like a winner even if I don’t win,” he said, while noting that this year’s contest was shaping up to be a keen one with regional competitors Freezy from St Lucia and Sita from St Vincent and the Grenadines entering the fray.
“I feel the judges are going to have to work extremely hard this year, but I bringing my ‘A’ game and I know the rest of competitors are [also],” he added.
Sita is also ready to hit the big stage. In fact, she told Barbados TODAY she planned to bring a lot of “fyah” on Friday night.
This is her first time competing internationally. Nevertheless, the Vincy is confident that she can grab Barbadians and make her island proud with her catchy lyrics and endless energy.
“You can expect pure fyah . . . . I am coming to ‘knock it like a hammer,’” she said in reference to the hook line in her song.
“I am a bit anxious but I am also enthusiastic because the Barbadian audience is different to the Vincy audience and . . . if I am performing for someone who is not familiar with my music . . . [I always ask myself], ‘what do I do to overcome obstacles,’” she added.
Although reigning Pic-O-De-Crop monarch iWeb did not make it to the bashment soca finals, he will have a busy night, jumping from the Sweet Soca stage to the Party Monarch platform. iWeb will be competing in the Sweet Soca semis with ‘Best In Me’ while his Party Monarch entry is a collaboration with Mr Blood entitled ‘Stomp’. Yesterday, the seasoned and confident performer was cool, calm and collected as Phenomenal Friday approached and said that he would leave the anxiety for the finals stage.
“Having done it a few times already there is no pressure at this stage, [but] once we advance that is when the pressure will start,” he told Barbados TODAY.
As for the bashment soca finals, iWeb praised two-time king Stiffy for his evolution as an artiste.
“Stiffy is evolving before our eyes . . . and he is a phenomenal talent,” iWeb said.
“He is not a predictable artiste and that is something that goes well for him . . . . He is a prime example of one in the entertainment industry that one would want to patent one’s self after,” he added in support of Stiffy’s bid to be crowned bashment soca king for a third time.
Also making it to the semifinals stage for the fourth time is the orange-haired songbird Nikita. However, this will be the first time that she will be competing in both Sweet Soca and Party Monarch.
“Vibe wise and energy wise, I am feeling positive,” said Nikita, whose Sweet Soca entry is ‘Journey’ and her Party Monarch song is ‘Going The Distance’.
Earlier this week, 2017 Sweet Soca Monarch Red Plastic Bag (RPB) revealed his plans to retire from competition. It was a decision took many by surprise.
However, responding to his decision to step away from the competitive stage, Nikita said that the veteran entertainer remained a mentor to many in the industry.
“He is still singing, he is still there, he is still very much all of our mentor. We can still call on him and get some advice,” said Nikita, whose song ‘Going The Distance’ was written by RPB.
Another Sweet Soca contender, Sanctuary, who will be singing ‘Fete Loan’ on Friday night, said he was not surprised by RPB’s decision which he does not expect to change the dynamics of the competition.
In fact he said the exit of the reigning monarch would leave the door open for another deserving competitor.
Although satisfied with making it to the semifinals for the second year in a row, Sanctuary said the May 24 general election had dampened the overall Crop Over spirit somewhat.
“The election really mashed up Crop Over,” he said, while pointing the finger at former Prime Minister Freundel Stuart over his delay in announcing the date for the much anticipated poll.
“If Crop Over is the biggest festival for the island I think that was really irresponsible of a Government to offset it that way because it going to effect the people coming in to see Barbados. . . . When people don’t see the same thing they saw the year in front they aren’t going to come the following year. We will get the ripple effect of it this time next year when people come in,” Sanctuary suggested, while stressing that “the build up to Crop Over was a bit taxing on people and you could tell because you are not seeing the numbers at fetes as before and you are not seeing as much fetes as before”.