There was infidelity, a wining tac-tac, waving bhaigans, a divorce on stage and even Thanos, but no performance proved hotter than Fyah delivered by the energetic duo of Neval Chatelal and Nishard M as they successfully defended their Chutney Soca Monarch (CSM) title on Saturday night.
Not only did they deliver strong vocals and a sweet melody, but also the strong lyrical content that many felt had been lacking in chutney soca. They beat off stiff competition from crowd favourite and runner up, GI whose song Divorce has been dominating the airwaves in recent weeks. Veekash Sahadeo, with his song, Chantel, placed third.
The competition also featured nine-time champion Rikki Jai singing Remedy, former monarch Omardath Maraj with Nobody Doh Care and Neeshan “Hitman” Prabhoo and Nigel Salickram with Outta Timing.
In the end, however, Nishard M and Chatelal got the judges’ nod for a performance that started with chants of “Love and Unity”.
The crowd joined in as they sang: “From we heart and we soul, chutney soca to the world, lewwe geh dem de fire.”
GI (Imran Beharry) had patrons in a frenzy when he enacted a divorce on stage, telling his estranged lover: “Keep the dog, keep the cat. I want a divorce.”
He fused chutney soca with dancehall music when he introduced Jamaican King of the Dancehall, Beenie Man. Blending his old school hit, Romie, into the mix, Beenie had patrons repeating: “Oh na na na na! Everybody sing, I love chutney soca.”
At the end of his performance, GI sat on a throne and was crowned before his kneeling subjects.
Sahadeo delivered with his song, Chantel with a cameo from former CSM winner KI Persad, telling the story of his clandestine relationship with his neighbour whom he visited when her husband left for work.
“I don’t call it cheating, it’s just a simple meeting,” Sahadeo sang.
While some performances did not get the judges’ approval, the audience reacted positively to a few. Kenneth Supersad’s double entendre in Saltfish left fans in stitches.
Kavita Ramkissoon created a stir her song Tac Tac as here was a wining Tac Tac on stage.
Rikki Jai, who finished sixth, came onto the stage dressed as Marvel Comics villain Thanos complete with an Infinity Gauntlet. Jai Thanos as he called himself, even performed the dreaded snap.
When it’s nice, do it twice
Ecstatic with the win, Nishard M, son of local government councillor for Avocat Doodnath Mayrhoo, said he considered the win an achievement. He said he was happy the judges chose to recognise music that unifies and dedicated the win to his grandmother Gowrie Mayrhoo, who turned 79 on Saturday, saying she got him started with his music career at age seven.
“They say when it’s nice, you have to do it twice, but to be honest with you, this is not a win for Neval, this is not a win for myself, this is a win for chutney soca music, this is a win for Chutney Soca Monarch. We have representation that once more paints the art form in a very positive, very uplifting and very unifying way,” he said.
“And that, at the end of the day, is what the mission is to us. The fact that we’re able to achieve that, that we’ve been given the stamp of approval to continue as back to back monarchs, it means the world to us.”
Chatelal said their winning formula was taken from deep in the roots of T&T’s culture and heritage.
“My purpose and my vision was to deliver a message so at one stage we weren’t competing with other competitors, we were actually competing with ourselves to see how we can better our product, better our message and deliver it in a way that everybody could have understood and groove to it at the same time,” Chatelal said.
GI said he was satisfied that his performance was of an international standard. However, he could not hide his disappointment at the 14 points that separated him from the title. He said that his song, written and produced by Big Rich and D Pungalunks Factory, not only spoke of ending a marriage but of separating from the many negatives of life.
“I personally thought that what we brought to the table, what we brought to the stage was of an international standard and we hope for better movements in the future. Big up to the competition and all the contestants. Everybody did well, everybody came out and did what they had to do and congrats to all. There is a next time,” he said.