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Phantom of the Soca Monarch

Anybody surprised? Ronnie beat SuperBlue in 1995 and the people "pelt bottle and stone". We were calling Phil Simmons "Ato" because he ran off the stage so quickly. In 1997, when Ronnie was the clear winner with "Ent" over the forgettable "Barbara", there was a tie between SuperBlue and Ronnie. Did anyone honestly think that the Soca Monarch result would have been otherwise?

Most of the young people who were at the show were just simply into whatever was popular. SuperBlue is the enigmatic "Phantom of the Soca Monarch" since for most of their lives they had never seen him perform except maybe on video. SuperBlue's presence at the show was like the latest pair of Jordans or the latest iPhone. Therefore they all jumped on the bandwagon and chanted "Super, Super, Super" all night.

It seemed as though everyone (except maybe Destra) had already conceded defeat to SuperBlue. JW and Blaze, Tallpree, and Benjai admitted that to the interviewer after they performed. Most of the singers became SuperBlue cheerleaders so that they could get some kind of reaction from the crowd. I have never seen such defeatist attitudes in a competition in my life. Destra, although she did mention "Blue", was the only one besides Lil Bits and Fya Empress who went out there, did her best, and actually sang well. When the interviewer tried to get her to concede defeat to SuperBlue or Machel as some of the others had done, she would not do it. I admired her stance.

Machel came out there and gave a really professional show. He was screaming like all the other males but his international experience showed. For the most part SuperBlue's voice was really bad on Friday night. I mostly heard 3Canal singing. SuperBlue's presentation degenerated into people jumping around the stage. It went downhill after the angel scene which was a spectacular opening. I loved the idea of the anti-drug message. It was a bit clumsy but it worked well.

At the end of the show I was convinced of three things. Machel was the clear winner on the night, the results would have been a tie for first place and none of the women would place higher than fourth. Was it really a case of coward judges playing it safe? The biggest loser on the night was our music that continues to lose at the hands of promoters.

Our soca music really needs to be divorced from these stupid competitions with their pusillanimous judges. It is really being stagnated and our singers will forever be doomed to make their money by chasing Trini-style carnivals all over the place. Until we come to that realisation, soca will remain just something to make a few dollars for many while putting millions in the hands of a select few.

Richard Burton

New York

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