Did Famalay Win Trinidad's Road March or Stage March?

Photo © Patrice Roberts Team/song Judgment Stage

On February 21, 2019, we published an article with the following headline: Savannah Grass 4 D'Road & 'Famalay' 4 D'Stage. Now that 'Famalay' has been declared the Road March for Trinidad we can revisit that post and the outcome of the Road March race that left many disappointed and the other side ecstatic with the thrill of victory. The Road March winning song should be the most popular song that was heard played 'On The Road' (keywords, "on the road") during the parade of the bands; was that the case, or was it declared the winner based on plays at predetermined judging sites? Now let's get to it.

There is much for Team 'Famalay' to be thankful for and much to take note of as firsts for a song capturing the Road March title. There were a few 'firsts' to celebrate for the song declared Road March Winner. We list some of the points of note: 
  • First-person outside of Trinidad to win the title - Skinny Fabulous out of Saint Vincent. 
  • First time three persons collaborated and won the title - Machel, Bunji, and Skinny Fabulous.
  • First Soca Bouyon to win the Road March Title
  • First Dominican producer to Win the Road March Title (credit Krishna 'Dada' Lawrence for the Bouyon influence; he co-produced the song with International Dj Stephen)
That is a lot to take in and be thankful for; Famalay exploded on the scene and immediately captured the hearts of the carnival massive in Trinidad and Tobago. Machel knows how to promote his brand and with the help of Bunji Garlin and Skinny they ensured that the song was properly promoted for Trinidad and Tobago Carnival... credit the team for a job well done. So now Machel has 9 and 1/3 Road March wins (remember he told Iwer George he has 1/2 Road March win because he tied with Super Blue)! So now let's use Machel's formula to award 'Famalay' honors. Good mathematics tells us that Bunji gets 1/3 Road March win and Skinny gets 1/3 Road March portion-win; trust good math and extend hearty congratulations to all the 1/3 win guys. Sometimes what you say will surely come back and bite you in the behind! That is Karma!

Then came Savannah Grass... a beautiful song that was the ideal Road March song and rightly so. We previously wrote, "How about a song for the road... regardless of how the Road March is judged we are looking at a song that is so damn sweet that people play mas and celebrate life on the streets with passion while dumping their troubles for two days of revelry... that song is Savannah Grass! Now, when it is time to hype up the moment, to celebrate the message of the carnival presentation on the Savannah stage judging point the song of choice should be 'Famalay'! Now let's clear the air now,  simply because we don't know where the judging points are for the Road march we expect 'Famalay' to be the most popular song that crosses the Savannah Stage but Savannah Grass to dominate the street parade. Our preference is Savannah Grass. What do you guys, out in the Internet Universe, think about that?"

History repeats itself... In 1989 Crazy's "Nani Wine" was the most popular song 'on the road' for the carnival that year; that song ruled the road, literally! However, it was not the song that was played by the majority of bands at the official judging points.  Tambu's "Free Up" won that year!  So is the winning Road March song the most popular song that was used to chip down the street on Carnival Monday and Tuesday? Sometimes it is, but other times we have a 'Stage March winner (judging points)' crowned the Road March winner!

So why are we here today? We now ask the question, did Famalay win the Road March (officially it did) or Stage March (most played song at official stage judging points)? This brings into question the method of judging the competition. Is the Road March the song judged to have been played the most on the Road? In other words, was it the most popular song played while the bands masqueraded on the streets and not just the stage? The Road March is supposed to be the most popular song played on the streets (real Road plays) and celebrated by the masqueraders. Most of the time the band leaders (encouraged by big-name artists and the so-called Soca Mafia) select the song played at the official judging points. Why is this done? That is the magic question that needs to be addressed. 

We selected "Savannah Grass" to win and maybe it was the most popular song that was "played on the road' but that is a mere consolation statement. The system of judging needs to be overhauled to ensure that the most popular song played on the streets becomes the Road March... as it is done today, the title is based on most plays at stage judging points! So today, we extend congratulations to the 'Famalay' crew for winning the Stage March and to the Savannah Grass team for the most popular song on the road... the Road March!

There is a light at the end of the tunnel for Kes and his fans. Rest assured that Savannah Grass will be played for years to come. Watch for jazz versions and more remakes of this song... it will become a classic. There is the Exodus pan version, Violin version, more piano version.. with more to come. Don't despair... you win in the end!

Addendum: What can we do to fix the problem?
The judging system is broken, 'Famalay' won because of the system in place, and one cannot fault Machel, Bunji, and Skinny for celebrating their victory... as per the system, they won! However, the system is not a good one! The Road March Title cannot, and should not be determined via stage judging points.. that system is flawed and can be 'fixed' (staged) by band leaders colluding with Soca artists.

A better method is to let the people playing mas give the Band DJ a list of songs to play... during the parade on the street the vibe of a song will force the DJ to follow the demands of the masqueraders. Count the plays and in the end, you will have a 'true' Road March based on the popularity/demand of and for a particular song and the number of plays! However, for this to work the following should be the case/key to a fair  result:
There should be designated parade routes (I think that is already the case) with several judging points for the Road March Competition but the key to a fair result is that no band should know where the judges are located!

If you feel the urge to vent then please use the comment feature of this post to share your thoughts about the songs/topic of discussion here with your peers.  We understand that you may want to scream at us too... feel free to do so; we are mature enough to handle your criticisms. All comments will be posted. Please don't forget to visit us on our 'Facebook Fan Page'. Use the search term @sokah2soca and don't forget to "LIKE US". We are also on Twitter and are now using InstagramSoundCloud and don't forget to #Sokah2Soca and Enjoy!

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♫Please press the music player button below to listen now (small triangle in the Music player/TV Frame).
Kes Savannah N.M.G Road Mix | Soca 2019
Famalay - Travis World Road Mix (Official Audio) | Skinny x Machel x Bunji | Soca 2019

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