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Drawing Blood

by Shawn Cumberbatch

Blood, the king of the stage, (left) with calypso maestro Gabby.

Blood, the king of the stage, (left) with calypso maestro Gabby.

Thank God for Sweet Soca. Considering the comparative dud that its older and more prestigious Party Monarch sibling turned out to be, Blood, Biggie Irie, Red Plastic Bag and company should all take a bow.

It took an exceptional all round performance of Ah Can’t Wait from new monarch Blood to defeat the sweet singing Biggie Irie, whose Need Ah Riddim many consider the sweetest of them all in 2013.

So close was the battle between these two members of Barbados’ entertainment royalty that a mere two points separated them when MC Mac Fingall made the announcement last night at Bushy Park, St. Philip.

Blood, who scored 473 points was the man to beat after performing in sixth position. He simply took the competition to the afternoon contest to a higher level, getting help from two local cultural icons, Gabby and Arturo Tappin, and a bevy of Barbadiana, including Mother Sallys, stilstmen, and dancers.

Dressed in white, Blood would have scored high in the various judging categories, including performance, melody, and lyrics. His was truly a deserving victory. When it comes to singing there are few in Barbados and elsewhere who come close to the abilities of Biggie Irie.

What nearly won it for this soca crooner yesterday, however, was his much improved performance, including some hitherto unrecognisable wining, and an overall impactful presentation.

His performance was steeped in images of Africa, both in garb, dance and rhythm, and like Blood the crowd loved it.

cropover2013barepoochrpbThird place Red Plastic Bag (453), who proved that “geriatric” or not he is still one of the most prolific and best exponents of sweet soca in Barbados, was sandwich between the top two in the order of performers, but showed all his experience in rendering the melodious Right Now.

Looking extremely comfortable on his beloved St. Philip stomping ground and with the support of the crowd, RPB, with his bald pooch pants and dancers in tow worked his song for all it was worth.

As has been done over the past few years, in what is clearly an attempt not to name and shame bottom placed contestants, positions four to eight were not specified.

Based on what all present would have witnessed, though, only a Martian could not have figured out that yesterday’s defending Sweet Soca champion Mikey was not fourth with his Enjoy Meh Life, and that Timmy, who sang — some would say talked — did not place last.

Mikey defended his title as valiantly as was expected, but despite typically strong singing, presentation and overall performance, including emerging from behind a screen in stilts, it was clear his best was not good enough to beat the likes of Blood and Biggie Irie on the day.

Such was the high standard of the competition that Mr. Dale (Fearless), Ian Webster (Moving/Enjoy Yuhself), and to a lesser extent Natahlee (How We Party), who in another year might have placed in the top four, found themselves in the bottom half.

Mr. Dale raised the bar high from the start in his performance of the popular tune, like most others on the day utilising all his experience in his attempt to win over the judges, getting help presentation wise from dancers, confetti, etcetera.

Ian Webster, while yesterday not as dynamic as some of the others, showed he deserved to be in the lineup, and had memorable lyrics and melody. So too did the experienced Natahlee, who simply sang and employed dancers to deliver her song, opting not to use the confetti, pyrotechnics, and other things used by other competitors.

As for Timmy, the fact that he made the finals notwithstanding, he would want to quickly forget yesterday’s display on the Soca Royale stage, when he bizarrely talked more than he sang, virtually confessed to being off key and out of time and sang part of the introduction to competitor Biggie Irie’s Need A Riddim.

That apart, the Sweet Soca contest certainly saved the day.

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