I know T&T carnival came and went in March and most post mortems on the festival have came to this conclusion or that one but here is my top ten list of carnival 2014 moments.
1: Bunji Garlin , Arguably the best Soca tune of 2013 Differentology propelled Bunji into 2014 with another carnival classic ‘carnival tabanca’ and a classy videomentary to go with it. Followed up with the monster hit truck on the road, and the internationally acclaimed TUN UP RE-MIX , as the Viking still ascends we can only watch and admire.
2: Mr Killa , rolley polley was without a doubt the ‘BIG TUNE’ of carnival 2014 and Mr Killa one of the busiest artiste of the year. Newspaper articles describe how the tune empowered big girls to go out and celebrate their plus sizes. RP was not just another power soca track it’s a motivator a fresh breeze and a Trans- island classic.
3: The return Of the Mighty Sparrow. The death of the Mighty Sparrow has been falsely announced so many times that even he sang a song about it. So when it was announced that he was dead last year only to find out he was in a coma his fans waited and prayed that the legend would see another carnival and he did. Carnival 2014 saw Sparrow return in better shape than he has been in years and he also enjoyed honors accolades and the admiration of the masses as the government paid all his medical expenses. The bird is far from dead but like the phoenix he gave us some real fire this year.
4: Minshall returns: While Peter Minshall never truly turned his back on MAS entirely the costumes he designed for Tony Hall's, Lord street theatre presentation ‘Miss Miles’, did mark the return of Minshall’s work on the streets making a statement, at the same time leaving the question on the lips of his followers...is he really back?
5: All stars win band of the year. Not since the 1963 when Silver stars steelband won band of the year with Gulliver’s travels has a pan side won the band of the year title. Was it a real victory or did the side win by the fault as other bands were disqualified? Or was the NCC making a statement on behalf of MAS? Let’s see if MAS bands will lift their game next year.
6: Benji’s soca monarch semi final performance. Come out to play was already a fairly popular tune for carnival 2014 when Benji came on stage to perform the tune in the soca monarch semi final held at the Arima Velodrome. However it was after his performance in nothing but his underwear that night made benji’s tune even more popular, and ‘benji’ became the newest noun for a man’s privates.
7: The Socadrome: led by Tribe and Bliss band leader Dean Akin, Harts Yuma Tribe and Bliss opted out of crossing the world famous savannah stage and created their own rival stage at the Jean Pire complex coined the socadrome no doubt after Brazils Sambadrome (how’s that for imagination?) while Akin claims the venture to be a success, an empty complex reflected a different reality.
8: Kerwin wins groovy monarch. Machel Montano lost his grip on the groovy monarch title to Kerwin Dubois, a man who in my opinion is the personification of the genre. Too Real was one of the biggest hits of 2014.
9: Anti government calypso: The calypso monarch final was like an anti People’s partnership rally as almost every calypsoian sang against the govt in one way or the next. The Calypsoian is said to be an accurate gage on the feelings of the masses, and from the sound of it the current regime is going to need a miracle in the next election.
10: Chromematics last carnival wrap up: after 3 summarizing kind of love in the verses of his music Trinidadian Rapper aka ‘Mr. don't care’ has recorded his last kind of love carnival rap up, and is real real boi!
It constantly baffles me how every year, the powers that be; always announce that this carnival was not only a success but also the best carnival yet. For that to happen it would mean in my opinion, that there were more visitors than the years before, the music was better than before , the mas was more spectacular than any preceding year, and the society benefited greatly from it all. This is simply not the case adult mas on Tuesday was weak, pitifully so, the North Stand and the new Socadrome were empty monuments to how boring the greatest show on earth has become.
While commercialism of carnival increases, venders report drops in sales. Panorama actually competes for an audience with the lime on the greens (another commercial venture) as even a swimming pool was added in the hope of making more money this year while the competition went on.
The King and Queen of carnival competition was far from being one of the best years as the big mas simply failed to provide anything outstanding enough that history will recall as iconic or truly memorable.
As for soca…when the hardest working man in soca today Machel Montano says power soca is dying you know it’s in trouble. There is an ebb and flow to carnival and every year does not surpass the one before it, but when the brightest star in the soca universe says ideas are getting scarce it is time to re evaluate this so called success.