“It’s a real sweet feeling. It’s a feeling I didn’t have for a very long time.”
This is how four-time Power Soca Monarch champ, Neil Iwer George described his win in the 2020 International Soca Monarch competition at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.
George won with this year's smash hit, Stage Gone Bad.
A jubilant George proclaimed, "My victory is the people’s victory."
Indicating it was very special to him as he had been buoyed by the feelings of love, excitement and encouragement from the crowd and other supporters, George is anticipating even more success during the remainder of this Carnival season.
Following Friday’s win, George is more confident than ever that he will either become the 2020 Road March king or second runner up.
He said while his ultimate goal is to create history, he just wants to "continue giving the people love."
He said, "The Road March is a forgone conclusion. Anyhow it goes, I will come first and second when you look at the choices for the Road March.”
George had previously won the crown three times, but has been known as "the man with the most seconds."
He said he'll definitely be defending his title in 2021.
Taking second place in the competition was Lyrikal with a theatrical performance of Rukshun, while Olatunji rounded off the top three with Thankful.”
In his first year of entering the competition, College Boy Jesse (Jessie Stewart) was crowned 2020's Groovy Soca Monarch.
Jesse led the way with a stunning performance of his Happy Song, which he later said holds a special place in his heart.
Second place went to last year's monarch, Swappi, who gave a rousing rendition of Jumbie Head.
Viking Ding Dong took third place with Outside.
George gets $1 M prize after 13-year hiatus, College Boy Jesse takes Groovy title
After a 13-year gap, Neil "Iwer" George has finally been crowned the Power Soca Monarch once again. He took home the $1 million prize. Bolstered by a surprise appearance from his Stage Gone Bad cohort Kees Dieffenthaller and a message from Police Commissioner Gary Griffith, George sealed his fourth win in the competition early Saturday morning.
Lyrikal placed second with the popular Rukshun, while to the surprise of some, Olatunji placed third.
The greater shock, however, came in the Groovy Monarch category.
College Boy Jesse (Jessie Stewart), who delivered arguably the most complete performance of the night from an audio and visual standpoint, gave an impressive performance to dethrone Swappi, who placed second.
"I just went out there to do my best and represent myself the best way I can and represent my team and the judging, well, I left it in God's hands. And this is the results," he said after earning the $500,000 prize.
Radio personality Viking Ding Dong placed third after diving into the crowd to close his performance of Outside. The results left the crowd dismayed that Skinny Banton, a favourite, failed to win the title.
There never seemed to be any doubt over George's win. George emerged the winner to much fanfare and had the crowd eating from his hands from the first note. His performance was interrupted by the commissioner, who gave a warning to the public about the stage via video message. When the music returned, Dieffenthaller ran out to meet George to whip the crowd, which was already hyped, into a greater frenzy.
Most contestants in the category acknowledged that the Point Fortin veteran was the man to beat, and his appearance in position seven sparked a series of well-crafted performances which was a strong climax to the event which had more than its share of issues.
The event started more than an hour-and-a-half later than scheduled, as the venue was far from filled. Meanwhile, audio problems plague the event throughout. The first contestant Leadpipe abandoned his performance twice due to microphone and monitor issues.
Swappi handled a similar problem differently, as he signalled for a microphone change mid performance before asking the crowd if they could hear him. While he never stopped performing, he only started his second verse after the crowd proved they were hearing him through a call and response.
Problem Child, who had one of the largest crowd reactions all night, also vented on stage: "I can't even hear myself," he exclaimed.
The late start of the show saw some aspects of the Woman Power segment of the show—set to feature Patrice Roberts, Nailah Blackman and Jadel—being dropped. The Zess session, however, proved successful, as the local dancehall acts were a hit with the crowd. Prince Swanny and K Lion, in particular, received thundering ovations.
Police officers in riot gear, who had been pulling individuals out of the crowd all night, were particularly busy during the 12-minute dancehall segment, searching numerous people.
The Power category, however, featured some of the show's strongest moments.
Prophet Benjamin had the not-so-easy task of following George and Dieffenthaller, but managed to win over the crowd as he admitted that the viral video in which he claimed to be bitten by a cat was part of a ploy to win the Soca Monarch competition. The crowd had been mostly static during his performance until he pulled off a choreographed fight and rechristened the Black Panther into the Rasta Panther with a series of witty verses—this raised patrons off their feet.
Olatunji followed with Thankful and won over the judges with a strong set which incorporated dramatic pyrotechnic and dance moves inspired by the late Michael Jackson as he quipped in the song, "This is not a Power soca, it is a powerful soca."
Lyrikal delivered a formidable performance of Rukshun as he reworked his verse to address his competitors to the crowd's delight. Lyrikal was carried through the centre of the crowd.
He later passed through the crowd as he left the stage and was seen giving high fives to fans on the way backstage.
But it was George who eventually reigned supreme.