Despite cries of “unfair” from some artistes, Minister of Culture John King says there will be no going back to the days of a split Soca Monarch competition.
Following yesterday’s competition at the “new” Botanical Gardens in Waterford, some artistes questioned the rationale of merging what essentially are separate sub-genres, Sweet Soca and Power Soca.
One of the youngest persons in this ‘year’s competition Jamal Slocombe, argued that the categories should be treated differently and went as far as calling the move “regressive.”
“I believe the competitions need to be split again because they are two different dynamics. An up-tempo song has a certain BPM (beats per minute), the lyrical content is treated differently, it has a different approach but a sweet soca song is a feel-good song. It can be played in your car; commercial use is also different… and I think Trinidad also recently returned to groovy and power soca competitions. I think it was really a regressive step to merge the competitions.”
However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon, King contended that a split competition only resulted in one category cannibalizing the other.
“There is no need at all to revisit the separate competition concept. When this competition started, it was a competition geared at getting people to produce party music. It wasn’t split into two. It only became split after there were so many entries from different persons that you tried to find a way that would allow the varying sets of artistes to maximise the thing,” said King.
The Minister added, “Over the years the audiences have been complaining that the Power Soca songs have not been of a very high standard and people were saying that they were only coming to hear the Sweet Soca songs. So, you have to make a decision as to what is in the best interest of your constituents and the artistes just have to be able to listen to their constituents and not just think in a one-dimensional way. It is not just about them but also the people who pay their money to come to see them to ensure that they have a competition.”
Considering this, King told Barbados TODAY that it was fitting that Michael Mikey Mercer, who performed the up-
tempo song entitled Action Time, emerged as the eventual winner.
“If you had asked anyone before this competition began yesterday, if they felt that a Power Soca would have been able to win the competition, 99.9 per cent of the people would probably have said no because that was the talk on the street for a long time. I am very happy to see that Mikey did what he had to do and this means now that the urge for people to get back to writing Power Soca will return and this will raise the quality, compared to what has been offered over the last five years,” he stressed.
King, a veteran calypsonian, expressed confidence that as a result of the competition maintaining this format, the disparity between the top performers of years gone by and the inexperience of the current lot, would be bridged.
“There is a clear need for us to begin to get some of the more seasoned artistes, those persons who would have come through the era of performing in bands and on the hotel circuit, to share their knowledge and experience with the younger artiste. You could see a stark difference and a wide gap between their understanding of performance within a competition,” said King, who pointed out that the National Cultural Foundation would need to consider hosting workshops to address this.