Calypso So-So On Quality

NOW that the carnival season has ended, it is time get back to the seriousness of daily life. No more band meetings, fetes and other activities that compete with the reality of the real day-to-day survival. Mas’ season is over, so get over it.

Since the beginning of the year, it seemed like not a week went by without this carnival band or the other was organizing some event promising fun entertainment for a sometimes hefty price. In fact, there were band launches from as early as January with bands trying to capitalize early on the especially fastidious revellers who were second-guessing jumping aboard the carnival train this year. Despite fewer bands being on the road this year, stakeholders indicate that reveller volume remained steady.

One of the ironies of the season, however, is that early planning obviously did not work – or was not exercised – when it came to the business of calypso. For a genre that either pokes fun at or attempts to hold everything and everyone else up to standard, this season’s calypsos suffered a huge dent. The decreasing numbers at the tent shows certainly did not reflect positively for a genre that for decades made people laugh at and look deeper within themselves and those around them.

What is laughable is that Castries South-East MP Guy Joseph’s clash with the speaker in the House of Assembly two weeks ago had enough power to enhance a few calypsonians’ performances at this year’s Calypso Monarch, Inter-Commercial House Calypso Competition and Kaiso Headquarters. Many of the skits in those competitions included some reference to the MP’s outburst at the Speaker of the House. At one point, “Since when that’s your role” was actually trending on Twitter. Imagine that!

Unlike the Calypso Monarch competition, the other calypso competitions seemed to have talent running right through them. The road to the Calypso Monarch, however, was plagued by accusations of mismanagement among tent executives, lack of relevant business acumen in a changing competitive environment and an underestimation of the power of proper marketing strategies. As a result, calypso has been so-so at the tent level.

That calypso at the national level has deteriorated to the point where calypsonians are actually switching to soca music to remain viable – and getting paid – is disconcerting. Of all the subject matter that oozed out of us in the past year, this year’s Calypso Monarch – as tough as it was – seemed a far cry from years past as far as quality writing is concerned. To sum this all up, former R.C. Jam calypso monarch, Mighty Sizzler, was spot-on when he suggested that the senior calypsonians be sent to the kaiso academy. Let’s just hope they finally take this timely advice.

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