The Pic-O-De-Crop was once seen as the crème de la crème of Crop Over events. Year after year, thousands flocked to the National Stadium on that faithful Friday night with high expectations of what was to be delivered by some of the season’s best calypsonians. The fact that there was synchronicity between the announcement of the Pic-O-De-Crop winner and the start of Foreday Morning Jam was an added delight. However, many Barbadians are left scratching their heads wondering if the same expectation and adoration still exists today, even in the face of persuasive arguments that Barbados has the largest crowd for any Social Commentary competition in the region.
This Crop Over season we heard a lot of Bashment Soca, Sweet Soca and Party Soca blazing the local airwaves. Therefore, it was no surprise that many of the songs rendered by the contestants of this year's Pic-O-De-Crop were unfamiliar to the ear. Since this genre is mostly considered to be geared towards the mature audience, it appears that only certain radio stations actually play Social Commentary. Truthfully, if you wanted to know the social commentary songs for the season, you would have had to make it your business to know them. In fact, many patrons who attended the Pic-O-De-Crop this year lamented that this was in fact the first time that they were hearing some of the songs. Nevertheless, and luckily so, that didn't stop them from nodding their heads in agreement with some of the expository lyrics and either waving theirs hands or tapping their feet as they enjoyed the contributions.
Gone are the days of creativity?
In the not too distant past, presentations for the Pic-O-De-Crop competition were superlatively entertaining. From the well-coordinated costumes to the well-loved backup singers and the hilarious props used on stage. Nowadays, most performers appear on stage clad in a suit and opt for a simple stage presentation. What’s more, it appears that oftentimes patrons are left yearning for a strong, solid thought-provoking song.
Unfortunately, and it pains to say this, many of the 2016 Pic-O-De-Crop performances were very lackluster and some might even push the envelope and say that many were quite boring. To see patrons occupied in personal conversations and even using their mobile phones during the performances, definitely spoke volumes about the impact of these songs. To add, and sadly so, Classic’s performance of ‘All in the Alphabet’ must be included here as the audience was noticeably confused as to its meaning or the message being delivered.
Nation-building songs were indeed the order of the night. All from Ian Webster with ‘Big Up’ to TC with ‘Golden Age’, Cummins-Beckles and even Donella crossed the stage finals night waving the Barbados flag high.
However, among the shining stars that night, who also delivered a nation-building song, was Azzia, Queen Azzia. She graced the stage in true royal form in both of her performances. Of the two songs, the showstopper would definitely have to be her second. Just imagine all of Kensington Oval singing in harmony.
"Allyuh we is, one people, one nation, diverse religions, many oppression. But we all agree we got one destiny! We must aspire with one desire and come together to lift this country higher. Then the world would see what Barbados means to me!"
Honestly, Barbados needed that, not just to add some spice to the competition but we needed that as a nation who is about to celebrate our 50th Anniversary.
After Aziza’s performance, there were no ifs, ands, or buts about who would be the eventual winner of the Pic-O-De-Crop. Deafening screams from the crowd after her performance said it all. "There is your queen!" some shouted.
It took 28 years for a Queen to be crowned once more and be able to reign over the holy lands of Crop Over. Unfortunately just like when Rita won back in 1988, controversy once again raised its bewitching head; challenging the judging process behind the competition. So much so that the National Cultural Foundation made an official statement explaining the logic and procedure of the scoring format for the competition.
It is quite true, in many instances Social Commentary may not be comparable with yesteryear. Besides the historic crowning of a well-deserved Queen, if you missed this year's competition, quite frankly, you didn't really miss much.
2016 Pic-O-De-Crop Competition Results
- 1st Aziza (114 points)
- 2nd Ian Webster (98 points)
- 3rd Mr Blood (88 points)
- 4th Chrystal Cummins-Beckles (84 points)
- 4th Donella (84 points)