Is the Road March Competition really the People's Choice?

Photo © LOOP TT
The Road March Competition was designed to designate the most popular song that the masqueraders danced to on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. However, have you ever wondered if the song that won the competition was really 'The People's Choice' or a choice that was manipulated by those with the ability to dictate the songs played as the carnival masquerade bands parade on the street?

Now there are many questions that one could ask and many answers or theories that come into play. Let's take Carnival 2012 as an example. Machel Montano won the competition with his song "Pump Yuh Flag". That song was recorded as the song of choice at various judging points, 233 times. In second place was Fay-Ann Lyons Alvarez's song Miss Behave with a recorded 96 plays followed by Iwer George's No Pain (Jab) song with 80 plays. Now that is an incredible margin for a victory and is a bold statement for the winner Machel Montano. However, was Pump Yuh Flag really the most popular song requested by the masqueraders, or did the bandleaders and DJs create this victory by dictating the song to play at the judging points?

Stop... I know and please don't go there because I am not a Machel hater. I think he is the King of Soca! However, today I can recall from Fay Ann's song 'drop on the ground and roll... from Kerwin Dubois (who was not a player in this competition) I'm ah Bacchanalist and Iwer's crazy Jab riddim with 'start jumping, keep on jumping jambolaisse'... but why can't I recall (easily) the hook for 'Pump Yuh Flag'? If a song is popular it should be on the lips of just about everyone who loves the music, you should find yourself singing it for no reason at all. I mean is should be in your head for no damn good reason... that is not the case with Pump Yuh Flag! This victory for Trinidad's 2012 Road March competition will go down in history as one of the greatest marketing events for a song ever. Obviously, for the people, Miss Behave was the kankalang song. Everyone knows Kerwin's song so how did Machel do it? Well, I can only say that he is not only a great stage act but he and his PR firm is one of the best to pull off that feat. 

This year the Road March was not the Peoples Choice but the choice of Bandleaders and DJs who decided that Triple M and the hype of Pump Yuh Flag was the song for the judging points. I guess they all wanted to be part of this event!

Now why can't they poll the masqueraders to find out what songs they want to jump up to and create a play list and jam the music. As the day rolls on the DJs will know the song that brings out the best in the revelers and play that song for the state or judging points for maximum impact of the band and the costumes on display... not the song! This is not about judging the song or tabulating the song played at the judging point. As a matter of fact, no band should know where the judging points for the Road March competition are... to avoid 'set plays' and padding of the vote count!

Something really wrong happened and this occurrence requires change for this competition. If they choose not to change then the name of the competition should not be called "The Road March Title". This competition is really meaningless when the masqueraders don't have a say - this is no longer the People's choice but the Band leaders and DJ"s choice!

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