Over the past 5 or so years, and as far back as I can remember, there would be that song that takes the spot as the Tune of Crop Over. Once upon a time, it would have landed in the Soca Monarch Competition. In recent times, with the increase and fluctuation of beats-per-minute, the distinctive song has been coming from Party Monarch and Sweet Soca tunes and would be crowned as the Tune of the Crop.
From 2013-2018 these were:
|2013||Soca Kartel||Roll It|
|2014||Lead Pipe & Saddis||Ah Feeling|
|2015||Peter Ram||All Ah We|
|2016||Lil Rick||Iz A Bajan|
|2017||Stiffy||Tip & Bend Ova|
|2018||Lil’ Rick||Mudda Sally|
There all seemed to be a formula about them: a distinctive rhythmic base (Ah Feeling, All Ah We, Iz a Bajan, Mudda Sally) , a certain lyrical and melodic structure (Tip & Bend Ova, Roll It, Ah Feeling) and a feeling of emotion (Tip & Bend Ova) or nostalgia (Mudda Sally), that resonated with the feeling of “going-down-to-low-town” and national pride (All Ah We, Iz a Bajan).
In the past, contenders for the next Tune-of-the-Crop would be on the airwaves by mid-July, making the rounds to capturing the hearts, imaginations and machinations of its people. This year, I have yet to hear a song that appeals, that carries markers that distinguish them in the ways past songs did.
Is this year different because of the change in competition rules? It seems that some moral pundits are having a hard time resisting the instinctive pull to gyrate to bashment-soca tunes. They are conflicted by that “get-down” feeling in the infectious harmonic and rhythmic arrangements with witty lyrics and sound repetition that suggest drunkenness and sex. Meanwhile, most of the other party songs coming through this year seem to be geared toward longevity beyond Crop Over, sounding very tinny/Trini/Caribbean-regional in sound, texture and voice.
Maybe, we have turned a corner again, and the sound/song of the Crop has gone a-foreign in feeling. Maybe, the all-inclusive Barbadian band excludes the Bajan iconic music brand. Is this new? We keep revisiting a discourse that reduces the Bajan label to indecent terminology. We so want to enjoy ourselves, to be so 1-dependent, that we are missing the opportunity to dance in celebration, freedom and independence.
What do you think?
Culture Clinic is a weekly column crafted by Dr. John Hunte.