Judges often cop much flak for decisions made during the annual Pic-O-De-Crop competition and praise is often grudgingly given. Last Saturday morning Mr Blood won the crown at the Pic-O-De Crop Final at Kensington Oval and the judges got it absolutely right.
In a competition judged on lyrics (35 points), melody (35), rendition (15), arrangement (10) and the unnecessary humbug that is the presentation, (5), Mr Blood ticked all boxes with consummate ease in both Sexual Harassment and especially Stars And Stripes. He gained 104 points, 17 more than the second-placed Donella and was especially outstanding in the category of rendition where he has few local equals in this genre. His diction was clear, his timing with the band excellent and he must have garnered the majority of the 15 points on offer.
His songs were both well constructed lyrically and a refreshing departure from the proliferation of selections that paid homage to the country’s new political leader and threatened to take variety out of the occasion. In terms of melody Stars And Stripes was simply sweet on the ear with Blood’s control of his modulation adding to the song’s essence. Together with Adrian Clarke’s Soca You, Structure’s Kaiso Ain’t Afraid and Jude Clarke’s Great Again, Blood’s exhortation to his countrymen to respect and promote things Barbadian rather Uncle Sam’s representations, possessed the best melody of the night.
Donella was the final’s bridesmaid yet again but acquitted herself relatively well with Pray For The Children and We Can’t Change. She is an excellent singer but the competition is not about who sings best. While both songs were worthy competition material with relevant topics, similar to some of the other contestants her offerings smacked of déjà vu. Her time will surely come but lyrically her material annually begs for an injection of wit or something other than sweet vocals to tip the scales in her favour.
AC could have easily swapped positions with Donella with his De Post Mortem and Soca You. Indeed, those who judged the Sweet Soca competition at Bushy Park, St Philip two weeks ago and failed to appreciate the absolutely infectious melody of Soca You to the extent that AC finished in the lower half of the order, should be kept away from judging panels indefinitely. Perhaps the competition will evolve to the stage where social commentary a la Soca You does not always have to be heavy, frequently mundane lyrics, but can be purely celebratory. He received 82 points.
Chrystal Cummins-Beckles was eight points adrift of AC with her A Piece Of De Rock and Rise Again. Similar to Donella, she sang well, the songs had passable melodies and were lyrically adequate but there was no wow factor to her offerings. This was not a first kiss on the lips but another peck on the cheek by a highly talented artiste who might need to look at boosting her lyrical style by using humour or perhaps by telling anecdotal stories rather than delivering strait-laced messages.
Colin Spencer moved from an alternate to a fourth-place finish in the final with his humorous I Going Where The Money Is and even suggested – tongue-in-cheek – that he was shifting his Dems for the hive. His was one of the highlights of the first half. He did not capture that same flavour in his second coming with Come Back Dear Father but generally had a good night. Having to replace his close friend and colleague Smokey Burke who is ailing in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital could not have been the easiest of mental obstacles to overcome.
Structure brought excellent material in both halves with Kaiso Ain’t Afraid and We Have To Work. While the first song was among the best melodically, the second carried an important message of the necessity for Barbadians to put their hands to the plough in the interest of their country. But Structure fell down in his rendition. His timing with the band was not always spot on and there were a few occasions where he came in slightly late with the band and chewed the first syllable in some of his lines, especially in his second-half performance.
Jude Clarke had a good night although his performance of his stronger song Great Again was not as dynamic as his semi-final performance. But in terms of the basic rendition of his songs [How Wrong Things Get So Right was his second number] Clarke did a commendable job.
Defending champion Ian ‘iWeb’ Webster finished in seventh position with the popular M.I.A and Adara. But while the former song worked well in the tent, he was always going to be challenged in the final with the category of rendition when it came to his mimicking of some of the political figures which he emulated. He slowed down his David Estwick rant but what is that he rendered? Was it meant to be indecipherable? It was, more than likely, but how was it judged? His Adara was never going to get him into the top half of the finishers.
Kid Site with De Seat and We Need A Leader and Billboard with Sex Change and Running Away finished ninth and tenth respectively but were far from disgraced. Billboard who has incurred the wrath of the LGBTQI [letters keep growing] community with Sex Change, once again overstepped by calling out a member of that community publicly on the night but later to his credit apologized for his faux pas.