By Michael Mondezie
Horrendous. That’s the only word that accurately describes some of the singing heard at the semi-final round of the International Soca Monarch competition, staged on Sunday evening, at the Grand Stand of the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.
Several much-anticipated acts fell flat vocally during a series of uninspired displays that left fans disappointed and social media abuzz with scathing criticism.
Dancehall soca sensation Pternsky (Ronny Boyce), with his immensely popular “Non Stop”, and Patrice Roberts, “Money Done”, were perhaps the worst of the lot.
Pternsky was way off the key played by the backing A Team band, while the usually on-point Roberts hit some notes to make a politician cringe.
Breakout artiste Voice (Aaron St Louis), meanwhile, failed to capitalise on the momentum of his runaway Carnival hit “Cheers to Life”. The occasion seemed to get the better of the San Juan-based crooner, who failed to duplicate the charisma and impressive vocal range he has demonstrated on the fete circuit.
The Bajan duo of Peter “Ram” Wiggins and King Bubba (Adam Elias) were completely off the pace. Their lack of physical preparation showed as both men were always a millisecond behind the beat during out-of-breath performances of “All Ah We” and “Mash Up”, respectively.
Veterans Austin “SuperBlue” Lyons and Winston “Mighty Shadow” Bailey seemed at sea on the Soca Monarch stage with the former being near unintelligible and the latter completely forgetting his lyrics.
Blue, to his credit, did hit all the right notes on his 2016 composition “We Calypso”. His diction was so poor, however, that it was almost impossible to understand half of what he was saying.
A bewildered Shadow, meanwhile, turned haplessly to the band as he lost his way midway into “Doh Hold Meh Back”.
An ageing Iwer George performing “No Behaviour” lacked the gusto of past years. The Boss, as he now calls himself, struggled to keep pace with the song and failed to move the crowd.
On a high note
Third Bass (Adrian Hackshaw) and Farmer Nappy (Daryl Henry) had no such problems, however. Bass turned the venue inside out getting the entire crowd to wave plant-like substances during an entertaining performance of his monster hit “Bum Bum (Stush). And when he invited the original bush man herbalist Trevor Sayers on stage, much to the amusement of the feteing crowd, his passage to the final was secured.
Nappy evoked similar scenes with his chant of “BamBilamBamBilamBilamBam”. The former Xtatik man showed his pedigree during a professional performance. Like a 100-metre sprinter during rounds at the Olympics, Nappy sped down the track, easing off the gas as he neared the finish line and leaving his supporters begging for more.
Also strong on the night and in with a shout at making the final was reigning Calypso Monarch Roderick “Chuck” Gordon “No Jumbie Vibes”, former Chutney Soca Monarch Kris “KI” Persad “Same Gyal Twice”, Bajan Hypasounds (Damien Etienne)“How She Like It”, Asten Isaac “Gallery”, Erphaan Alves “Intentions” and Japanese singer Angella Giustini “Touch Down”.
Antiguan Ricardo Drue, singing “Professional”, Preedy (Akeem Chance)“Veteran” and Shal Marshall with “Party”, while not at their best, also did enough to warrant a place in the final.
They will all be chasing St Lucian Teddyson John, however, come Fantastic Friday night. The “Allez Allez” man gave a master class in performance art, striking the perfect balance between energy on stage and crowd engagement all while maintaining vocal integrity.