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Friday, July 20, 2012

POWER SOCA REVIEW: GALLOP VS RAG AND FLAG


As the signs of an impending deepening tension between the Cultural Development Foundation and the Select Carnival Stakeholders Committee loom large, let us reflect on some aspects of Bacchanal 2012, focusing on the Power Soca Monarch!

Suppose I told you before that St. Lucians were fed up with the Trinidadian-invented “Rag and Flag” syndrome which has over the years supersaturated our Soca shows, would I have been vindicated by the outcomes of our just concluded Carnival? Did we see some evidence pointing in that direction in the song “Gallop” by Soca Psycho.

Soca Psycho is simply known as “Cuffy”. He works at DHL. He wrote “Gallop” on his own but the song was produced by Fross and mastered by Fross and Starchild (Darton “Reeves” Charles) from DOTCOM Sounds. Soca Psycho does not drink alcohol!

I have been following the "Rag & Flag" movement ever since it’s early inception by exponents like Iwa George and lately Machel Montano. No doubt, it has been an effective crowd participation technique; but lately I get the impression that it is losing its spontaneous appeal - a probable indication that it is losing some ground and hence its relevance among our local audiences.

In that sense, gallop came in as a breath of fresh air blowing away the monotony of the "Rag & Flag" and "Panty & Bra" malaise which has taken over our bacchanal. Yes! It virtually blew them away in the Road March arena!

When I first heard "gallop", I was ambivalent about it. I dismissed it as just another version of Twanche; but the more I listened to it, the more it dawned on me that the song was a beautifully-crafted and creative construction with universal audience appeal and which spontaneously engaged audiences wherever it was performed.

The Lyrics are simple but innovative:
Every year is people complaining
Year after year is de same ting
Raising Rags, Flags, Flags, Flags . . .
I’m getting pressure
They request a vibe to raise de temperature
When it come to jump up, this one has no remorse
This year we come out fit like a horse

Chorus
So gallop; run to de back of de truck
Kick up to the front of the truck!
Giddy up . . . .

De girl doh want no donkey, donkey, donkey
Give her a stallion, stallion, stallion
Donkey too tired, tired, tired
She request a thoroughbred to pick up de pace
De horse is on the track
There’s no turning back
Hold onto the bridle, bridle, bridle
Hold onto the bridle, bridle, bridle
Put on your saddle
We’re getting ready to “pété pak” (mash up fence) 

However, despite the vast potential of the song, Soca Psycho didn’t do justice to it on the big stage on the night that mattered, even when he had overwhelming crowd support. He obviously needs more lessons in timing!

Having said all of the above, I have to confess that I'm afraid that "gallop" might just be another “freak Soca” song like Alpha's "down de road, Exodus' "metay brakes", and Ninja's "OK" etc.

If "gallop" was a commendable creative attempt, then "Born to Mash up" had all the elements of a veritable creative earthquake and Superman HD deserved the Power Soca monarchy. I particularly liked the tag line “everything’s gonna fall in here, everything is gonna fall!”

The caustic poetic flavour of the song thoroughly impressed me. The rendering and performance of it were masterful and superb and raised the bar by quantum leaps! The professionalism, theatrics and structure of/in the production approached the quality of a science fiction movie. HD had masterful introduction which flowed delightfully into a clear "line of development” culminating into a soothing closure which perhaps restored the equilibrium of the audience when the performance was done! We have to rank Superman HD’s performance as one of the greatest we have seen. He was explosive and made Ricky T look pedestrian.

Ricky T needs another quantum leap to reach Superman HD’s standard. To add insult to injury, I would say that his performance this year was like a “recycled dancehall act” from last year with too much “rag and flag” and “1-2-3! ready to go” antics. He sounded infantile and mundane.

Alva was way below national standard and looked like he is on his way out of the arena! It appears that Machel Montano’s influence has not had the desired impact on his pursuit of success. He is a far cry from the original Alpha we knew him to be.

Yardie’s “She loves my clock a lot” turned overtly “x-rated” when he placed a clock hanging from his neck down to his genital region and then invited his sexy dancing ladies to whine on the clock. At that point, it became clear that Yardie’s song wasn’t about his clock; but something else.

Sir Lancelot’s performance stood out in some measure; but his “lyrical conversation” seemed to lack poetry and organization. His lyrical mix tended to be too conversational and ex tempore. He was just bunching words around and that robbed him of a measure of professionalism.

Overall, the Soca Monarch had the potential to be a superb show but the organizers might have “piped” the segment when the patrons were waiting for the results. I didn’t think the slot given to “DJ HP” at that point was a well-thought out move. In my opinion, it took away the "euphoria" element from the show and brought the quality down a few notches. It was an ideal slot to fill in with some guest artistes like Mancius, Kakal or the good calypsonians that didn’t make it to the Big Stage. It was a way of recognizing, encouraging and appreciating them, not to supersaturate the patrons with more “panty and bra” effluvia from a dancehall DJ!

There's a silent suggestion that Carnival Stakeholders Committee/Cultural Development Foundation does not seem to have a clear and comprehensive policy for the development of the art forms; but that's for another show. Perhaps, it's a good time for the Stakeholders committee to pass the baton to Petrus Compton and his CDF team and to let them start the planning for Bacchanal 2013.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Cokes and Esai did not MC the Power Soca Finals; they MC'ed the Calypso Finals. I have edited and removed the references to them. My apologies for the the mix -up!

Thanks to "Anonymous" for pointing that out! 

Anonymous, HP did perform at the beginning of the Show and I have absolutely no issue with that! My issue was the slot given to him during the "judging interregnum". I thought it was declasse for a show of that magnitude!

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