Calypsonian and songwriter, Edwin L. Martin says “It’s time to ditch tradition of calypso monarchs being automatically placed in following year’s Finals.”
One of the most archaic traditions in calypso continues to be prevalent in 2020.
The calypso monarch is rewarded by being automatically placed in the following year’s finals. The monarch does not have to go through the gauntlet of the early rounds, usually the eliminations and semifinals.
It’s one of those customs that wore out its logic years ago but continue to linger because the powers that be don’t want to tamper with a longstanding practice.
But let’s put it in perspective.
Last year the Toronto Raptors captured the NBA championship. How would the other teams feel if the Raptors were automatically placed in this year’s NBA Finals regardless of their regular-season record? It would be a bit asinine, correct?
The soccer World Cup, held every four years, gives automatic bids to the defending champion and the host country. Although I have issues with that practice as well I realize it’s done for marketing and promotional reasons.
I understand the rationale behind the calypso tradition. The monarch must be able to “defend” the title. Well I submit that the true way a monarch can defend a title is to start from the eliminations like everyone else and ascend to the throne again. Now that would be a true defense of the crown.
But to reward the monarch with a spot in the finals when his or her songs have not even been heard yet or they have not been put through the litmus test of judged performances on stage? That makes little sense to me.
I also believe that placing the monarch in the next year’s finals can work against the defending monarch. When one knows he or she is already in the Finals, it can spur complacency.
I have competed in the Montserrat Calypso Monarch competition four times. I have watched defending monarchs return the following year with mediocre songs and performances. Because they are automatically in the Finals they sometimes release their songs late and are unable to gain traction, proper radio play and public support due to the fact they often don’t perform their new songs on stage before the Finals.
If the calypso committee wishes to reward the defending champion, how about allowing him or her to choose at which position they wish to sing? Or some other incentive.
Montserrat has not had a repeat calypso monarch since 2005, and I believe the above tradition is one reason. For this new year, it’s time to adopt 2020 vision and ditch this outdated practice.