EDITORIAL: Looking for quality Crop Over music
The release of recordings for Crop Over is the traditional signal that the national tempo is about to quicken and that Barbados’ biggest secular festival is underway, even though it has not been officially launched.
And perhaps this is as it should be, given the pivotal role that this music plays in conditioning the public’s mind and mood for what should hopefully be a time of islandwide relief from the strains, stresses and tensions of everyday living.
But right from the start there had been a noticeable outcry about the music that has so far been performed at the drastically reduced number of cavalcades organized by the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) and aired on our radio stations. So far, the general consensus seems to be that while more than 200 recorded songs have been released for radio airplay, the 2013 output appears set to distinguish itself more by the lack of quality than for the quantity of artistic efforts.
So while admittedly these are early days yet for the festival and things could very well get much better when more of the so-called calypso “big guns” expose their offerings, there is still a very strong and troubling possibility that 2013 could very much be a perpetuation of the syndrome of less than mediocrity that has for the last several years characterized the musical products of those who are supposed to be our most creative minds and souls.
That is why the veteran Serenader has been greeted as a refreshing breeze of fresh air with the release of his Sophony In C Minor, a work that, in his usual style, faithfully adheres to an ear-catching melody and memorable lyrics.
However, another disturbing trend in this season’s Crop Over music is the continuation of the tendency for songwriters to deliberately seek to appeal to the public’s baser instincts both through the obsession with the female body as a topic, and crudity of lyrics that amount to nothing more than lewdness and smut and betray the blatant absence of clever but inoffensive writing skills.
There are those who will argue that the low standard of music is to be blamed on the public with whom it is said to be very popular and who call for it to be performed and broadcast. But given that with music people can only like what they hear, the management of the radio stations and their on-air personnel must demonstrate a greater sense of responsibility, exercising far stricter oversight where the content and technical quality of songs are concerned.
It is quite striking that while criticisms and objections have been voiced by the general public and various non-governmental organizations, once more not a word has been heard from the Broadcasting Authority on this burning social issue, maintaining a loud silence where guidance and even moral suasion would have been expected and required.
The setting and maintenance of basic and proper standards should not be ignored or trivialized in any area of national life whatsoever.