Friday, August 8, 2014

Guide to Grenada Calypso Monarch 2014
Worn melodies and concepts make fight tight

PREDICTING a likely calypso monarch winner has become an even bigger lottery with the quality of judging this season that has had many scratching their heads.

With half of the nine maybe among those counted as lucky as being there -- it may, in the end, come down to a fight of the traditionalist and the two most crowned men -- Ajamu and Scholar -- with defending monarch Ketura a slightly lesser-known quality, having no need to go through the qualifying stages as the reigning champ.

  Given their material and the expected performance of the artistes, and if the calypsonians are true to form, then Superstar could be a dark horse.
But the biggest challenge may come from current independent monarch Sour Serpent, the unofficial king of double entendre.
But he, like Wizard, already has a history of performance flops on the big night.
If he can hold his nerve, and his notes, the man born Sean Niles could have the biggest night of his calypso career.

Wizard has won the crown before. He was one of the lucky ones to have made it through, following a semifinal where the judges appeared to be generous to the elders and the long-standing performers.

His going Nowhere Fast, is  a cliche-riddled hodge-podge of two-line social statements that, by his own standards, are lyrically ordinary.
NNPism is much closer to vintage lyrical Wizard, except that his melodies are so worn and so predictable that they put him at a disadvantage.

Scholar is vulnerable because questions remain about AsphaltThe song's originality in concept and development is a big red flag, given what Dominica's Hunter did with the theme back in 2012.
Promise Land is a greater concept and a witty song; and Scholar's use of the traditional religious melodies in the bridges adds to the song's potency and relevance. It is one of those cases where a used melody is utilized in an original way for thematic and dramatic effect.
Even without the issue of plagiarism with Asphalt, by itself -- it is not the greatest developed of Scholar's concepts. In the semis it also felt rushed.
Then as a two-song competition package, Asphalt in the broader sense of thematic concepts, has too much of a sameness with the stronger more potent first song.
Scholar's biggest bet is maybe to find a second song -- and he is sure to be in the money.

   Scholar -- on form and material -- is likely to be stronger than Ajamu in the first round; but the tables seemingly could be turned  in the second.

  Ajamu's endearing strength is his ability to deliver any material he has. Hands down he is best on the list for Dimanche Gras.

  And one gets the feeling he is about to introduce a new song in the final, with the recent showcase of Tune in They Rukung Ku Tun Tun.

The gauntlet has been thrown down. Scholar needs a bolder move to get his eighth.

   Conceptually, Mr X has perhaps the best two-song package, along with Sour Serpent. But, again, as has become his custom, Mr X's words sometimes get in the way; and his delivery suffers.

   It will be difficult for Randy Isaac to win for the same reason as Wizard. His songs are made up of overused statements with no poignant fresh philosophical pitch, nor declarative insights.

  They may be good enough to make a list of nine, but not to take the performer to the top.

  The problem with songs such as Randy's The World Needs a Makeover and Wizard's We Going Nowhere Fast, is that two years from now, you would not remember them -- as we do remember, let's say, Randy's Roots of Calypso or Wizard's IMF or Tell Stone.

  Sheldon Douglas and Janice are extremely lucky to have made it to the monarch final.

  Sheldon doesn't have the problems Janice has -- her pitch and melodies. Lyrically, Janice's first song is interesting and relevant to the times; her second is a melodical nightmare that is all over the place.

  Big J comes with a traditional but solid approach, with two useful commentaries -- but good enough of a mid-level placing.

   If nobody misses their lines, do not let nerves have the better of them, and sing the material that we expect -- and if the judges do not have an off night -- these top four could be in the mix -- (in alphabetical order) - Ajamu, Scholar, Sour Serpent, Superstar

   Ketura is a little unknown heading in to Dimanche Gras night at the National Stadium. But with useful material, given the singer she is, Ketura will also have to be considered a factor.

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