My pecking order

As the Crop-Over Festival enters its last lap, I am looking forward to the Pic-O-De-Crop finals. At no other time have I been as eagerly awaiting the finals as this year; this competition is shaping up to be something special.

The quality of the tunes is of a very high standard and the calypsonians appear to be in a “fighting mood”. My sensing is that amidst the camaraderie and mutual respect, the ten finalists recognise that the competition this year will be stiff and the 2012 calypso crown could easily be anyone’s crown when the curtains fall on the MQI/Banks/LIME Pic-O-De-Crop Finals tomorrow night (early Saturday morning).

Let me get straight to the point. Though I expect that after the judges have their say there won’t be much separating the calypso gladiators on Friday night, like many fellow Bajans, I have my favourites.

Having listened to the semis finals I believe than Ian Webster will take the crown and the runner ups will place from second to 10th as follows: Popsicle, Mighty Gabby, Red Plastic Bag, Adrian Clarke, Smokey Burke, De Announcer, Chrystal Cummins-Beckles, Blood and Adonijah.

Yes! I concede that I am prejudging the show but I am objective enough to change my pecking order following the last performance on Friday night. After all, the crown will be won on the night!

Let me also declare that I have extremely high regard for Gabby and RPB. In my estimation, Gabby is nothing short of a cultural icon and musical genius. RPB is a lyricist who has perfected the calypso and soca art form and continues to age professionally like fine wine. With hits like Something Happening, Feting, If Yah Sweet Yah Sweet, Not One Asked, Bim I Love You (the list goes on and on…), it is clear for all to see that Red Plastic Bag has the formula. Gabby on the other hand is the king of Barbadian folklore. He is a cultural ambassador extrordinaire and his repertoire of kaiso over the years will forever be historical repositories in their own right.

Adrian Clarke is a maestro deserving of his two crowns to date — he, like some of his compatriots (who shall remain nameless in these pages), has been robbed of a crown. I absolutely love AC’s particular calypso recipe of melody, clever lyrics and biting commentary. I need not say more.

Adonijah, a former king, is one of the grandfathers of Bajan calypso, a grandmaster who does not stray too far from the rudiments of traditional Barbadian calypso, and he definitely has “Something in the Bottle” this year and cannot be underestimated. Ian Webster (welcome back to the calypso stage) and Popsicle are the future of “social commentary”. Popsicle’s calypsos are fused with humour, story telling, current lyrical relevance, Bajanisms and the trappings of traditional musical arrangements in a contemporary package.

They are second to none. The reigning king won his crown hands down last year and has returned with a bang with Bailout and De Phone. We all know Blood is a top quality performer, singer-song writer and producer. The other finalists are perennial finalists that deserve to be among the big boys this year.

Some regard Ian Webster as the dark horse in the competition. I see him as someone who was born to sing and perform social commentary, and I particularly love his song Hollywood Tree. The musical arrangement of that song is “on top of de time” and Webster’s performance of it on semi finals night was profound, captivating and enthralling, not to mention the powerful lyrics. His second song, Sweetness is a catchy, quintessential Barbadian calypso with an important and clear message. In my view Webster is the closest “thing” to a Gabby reincarnation, truly a national treasure.

This year’s Pic-O-De-Crop finalists and the hundreds of other calypsonians have done so much through their art form over the years to enrich Barbados’ culture. I am no calypso or music expert. I am simply a lowly calypso fan and resolutely patriotic Barbadian who wishes to convey my appreciation for the contributions that are made to Barbados’ cultural and social development by our entertainers. Thank you all!

I hope the rain (expected tropical storm/depression) doesn’t spoil this jam, cause the Pic-O-De-Crop finals is shaping up to be sweet fah days…

Barbados, as you continue to reflect on the significance of Emancipation, have a happy Crop-Over! Celebrate small mercies and give thanks for what you have. Do not get carried away with gay abandon, drunken stupor or a callous disregard for self respect and dignity. Stay safe and love life.

I will be enjoying the finals. I hope you do too.

Congratulations to Mikey on his elevation to monarch of 2012 Party and Sweet Soca.

Carlos R. Forte is a Commonwealth Scholar and Barbadian economist with local and international experience.

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