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Soca Monarch at a crossroads?

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Two international recording artistes who have been staples of the popular Soca Monarch competition say they are calling it quits from the competition.

‘Skinny Fabulous’, who has won the Power category six times and the Ragga category once and ‘Problem Child’, who has finished in the top three say the competition is no longer fun and has become abrasive and hostile (see pages 13 and 14).{{more}} Problem Child has also cited the lack of a level playing field, as has ‘Madskull’, one of the newer artistes who has been making waves over the past two years.

The Soca Monarch competition is by far the most popular event staged by the Carnival Development Corporation and its biggest money earner. The show tends to draw crowds because of its appeal to the younger party going set and ironically because of the intense rivalry and showmanship particularly between the two artistes who have won the competition most frequently — Skinny Fabulous and Fireman Hooper.

One can see, with Skinny and Fireman monopolizing the top spots for close to 15 years why other artistes would be disillusioned and perceive that their probability of winning is next to zero. There is also the school of thought that if something is not broken it should not be fixed. With the Soca Monarch competition drawing crowds estimated at over 10,000, the temptation may be to leave it as it is. The truth is, although it may not yet be obvious, the event is cracked, as evidenced by the sentiments of its participants and if not mended will soon break.

Last Saturday’s show, though interspersed with moments when the artistes got the entire venue to move, lacked the overall energy and excitement of previous years. It was also far too long. Instead of 15 finalists in the soca monarch competition, that show could have been pared down to the best 10 as was the case with the ragga soca segment. If there are fewer finalists, a larger appearance fee can be given to each performer, helping somewhat to level the financial aspect of the playing field.

The time limits given to performers should be more strictly enforced and there should be shorter breaks between each performer. And do we need to have so many ‘performances’ by DJs? An earlier starting time would also help.

The Soca Monarch show is in need of review and restructuring, but this should not be difficult as the show has tremendous goodwill and a large reservoir of talent. Putting together a better, more entertaining soca monarch show for next year will take creative thinking, a reinvestment of finances and the willingness of the stakeholders to accept that change is needed and embrace it.

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