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RON IN COMMON: What the secret with the points?

ERIC SMITH, [email protected]

RON IN COMMON: What the secret with the points?

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SO THOSE CALYPSONIANS who will match up against reigning monarch Classic have been chosen for this year’s Pic-O-De-Crop finals.

Like most people I am eagerly anticipating that event at Kensington Oval on Saturday, July 30. Given the names of those who will do battle for the coveted crown in this annual song contest, it should be an interesting and entertaining evening.

But, like tent managers Eleanor Rice-Watkins, Errol Griffith and Sharon Carew-White I have a problem with an aspect of the competition.

Mine is not who is singing out of key, or hoarse and cannot hold their notes, who bring old melodies or who reworking an old theme, over and over.

My concern really is not about the judges. Not at all. I believe Washbrook Bayne, Leslie Lett, Litchfield Nurse, Norton Brewster and all the other judges know what they are doing. They have been at this process for many years and should know what to look for. I simply like good music, like any other consumer, who shows that appreciation by purchasing what I, indeed we, love to hear.

The National Cultural Foundation, the organisation responsible for the Pic-O-De-Crop competition, is creating a headache for me – actually many other calypso fans across this country. 

It needs to release the points scored by the calypsonians at every stage of the judging. There is nothing to hide. The NCF must not dismiss the public as musical morons who will not understand the points standing.

The points are given in almost every other reputable competition, locally and worldwide.

It happens with the Eurovision competition. It was so with American Idol. This is the case with the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Competition.

Why can’t it happen with our Pic-O-De-Crop Competition? Even if the points are not given during the preliminaries, then they should be made available for the semi-finals and the finals.

The calypsonians want to know as so do the tent officials. It would be good for the song writers and arrangers to know and most certainly the fans want to know. Just imagine if Carol and Denis on Fireworks or the Admiral on Festival Stage had that information. It would make for really interesting discussion and analysis by the analysts.

Some years ago when the points were made known, it used to create a lot of discussion. To this day, people still reflect on that slender margin which divided Rita, the winner from John King in second position.

There is always that curiosity factor amongst the public. There are the official scores versus the people’s scores.

The public likes to know going into the final, who is the top horse and who is a dark horse. It is almost like the Gold Cup race or Usain Bolt sprinting home or a team of Tiger Woods playing in the Masters. The public in such circumstances want to know the times, the scores and of course the positions.

At a time when the public is demanding greater transparency in the way things are done, the NCF should give serious consideration to putting the points in the public sphere.

It would be very interesting to know the points each of the 18 contestants scored on Friday night at the National Stadium in the semi-finals.

With a reputable accounting and audit firm involved, an arbiter and a panel of credible judges, there can be nothing to fear about making the process and the results public.

The NCF must also not overlook a critical factor. Ten, 20 or 50 years from now and someone doing research on calypso would be denied those little but important details. This emphasises why releasing the points is critical whether it be the big people competition, Junior Monarch, Bashment Soca, Party Monarch or Sweet Soca competitions.

Making the points standing known in these competitions can also be significant at the end of the season. The judges should be required to have a pep talk with the performers, the lyricists and the arrangers. Tell them where they fell down; what was poor rendition, incomprehensible diction, problems with the melody, lyrics being contradictory, poor stagecraft. Just tell them what was wrong so they can avoid that pitfall, again.

The NCF must stop with its take it or lump attitude and recognise the important contribution of the calypsonians, songwriters, arrangers, and most definitely the fans.