Despite alleged financial issues raised by Chutney Soca Monarch promoter, George Singh (particularly as he cried foul and accused the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism of discrimination and thievery), the 2014 edition of Chutney Soca Monarch is going ahead as planned. Raymond Ramnarine, the 2013 Monarch, may still be short $200,000 of his million-dollar prize but there can be no Carnival season without some kind of bacchanal (and we like it)! Singh has announced that there will be public text voting for the Semis by phone and online. These votes will count for 20% of the marks, while judges will account for 80%. Unfortunately, this system has turned the competition into more of a popularity contest (as votes can be cast before contestants perform) and it will surely make it difficult for the lesser-known artists to have a chance at the Finals. Interestingly, several soca artists have made the Semi cut: Chucky, Blaxx, Shurwayne, and Olatunji, who are all making their Chutney Soca Monarch debuts; and Prophet Benjamin, marking his second consecutive year in the competition. The music this year is a mix of groovy chutney soca sung in English, the “chatak matak” (songs sung in Bhojpuri featuring heavy dholak drumming and dhantal ringing), and the ‘waist-breaker’ power chutney soca. While predictions can be hit-and-miss, it is expected that the following heavyweights will make it to the Finals: Rikki Jai Rick Ramoutar KI Ravi B To get a feel for the vibe this year, check out the Semi-Finalists Mix: TRACKLIST Rikki Jai - When Ah Call Yuh Come Rikki Jai - Clap Yuh Hands Edward Ramdass - De Energizer Moses Charles - Danger Rick Ramoutar - Dheen Ta Na Junjeezy - Tip De Bottle Blaxx - Awaken The Spirit Shurwayne Winchester - Sunani Chucky - Shadee (The Wedding) Neeshad Sultan - Daru Neeshad Sultan - No Hangover Hunter - Patsy KI - Runaway KI - No Conduct Kenneth Supersad - Bull Sally Sagram - Handy Man Stinky - Rat In De Cinema Stinky (feat. Mr. Killa) - Breakin All The Rules Soca Elvis - One Gyul Not Enough Amit Sooknanan - Outside Lover Nishard M - Mammy Say Marva McKenzie - Mako SW Storm - Confession Adesh Samaroo - Touch And Doh Tell Adesh Samaroo - Mangay Ke Roti Adesh Samaroo - Baraat Leaving Natalia Wohler - Don't Abuse It Ravi B - Bread Veekash Sahadeo - Ex With Ah Next Crazy - 2 Out Of 3 Dave Lall - Jootah Omardath Maharaj - Pitchoil Revolution Sexy Marissa - Doh Rock It So Slow Anand Yankaran - Pakpaklal Hema Dindial - Ho Gaye Hema Dindial - Boatride Vedesh Sookoo - Pack Your Clothes Terry Gajraj - Party Tun Up Nisha Ramkissoon - Charlie Breakaway Heaven 'Snakey' Charles - The Dhoti Song Nadia Madoo - Mousie Julaway Kavita Maharajh - Bowjiya Sarah Ramkalee - Wining On Meh Man Olatunji - Fete Ram Daddy Chinee - Tassa Jam Reshma Ramlal - Batawo Lakarie Shiva Lakhan - Chatti Ko Chal Jerry Singh - Brand New 2nd Hand Prophet Benjamin - The Seamstress Rude Jude - Fire Waist Raymond Ramnarine - Mosquito SONGS TO WATCH Note: Multiple songs means artist has not yet decided which one will be used in competition Rikki Jai – Clap Yuh Hands: A new sound that is groovy chutney soca-meets-flamenco Moses Charles – Danger: The return of the “Indrani” man Rick Ramoutar – Dheen Ta Na: A duet with Denise ‘Saucy Wow’ Belfon Chucky – Shadee: A chutney soca pan kaiso combination Hunter – Patsy: Features the character, Narine, from the Santana puppet franchise KI – Runaway and No Conduct: Both demonstrate KI’s potential and quest to reclaim the Chutney Soca throne Kenneth Supersad – Bull: A witty double entendre describing the search for a bull (sex) Sally Sagram – Handy Man: A decent groovy chutney soca that may be strong enough to place her in the Finals for another year Stinky – Rat In De Cinema and Breakin All The Rules: The former continues the comedy that last year’s “Park Up Meh Car” garnered, while the latter is a power chutney soca featuring Mr. Killa (the artist behind “Rolly Polly”). Both have potential for the Finals. Natalia Wohler - Don't Abuse It: The Trinidad-born Swiss perform makes it into her second consecutive Semis. The tune has potential but will her performance live up to it? Ravi B – Bread: Marks the former Monarch's return to competition with a tune that has become quite popular outside of chutney soca audiences Crazy – 2 Out of 3: “She mudda can’t but she fadda would.” It's the usual word play from this calypsonian, nuff said. Dave Lall - Jootah: Clever reworking of the Indian concept of “jootah” (“double-dipping”) in a witty, sexual light Omardath Maharaj – Pitchoil Revolution: The sequel to last year’s “Bacchanal” where chutney soca meets J’ouvert Anand Yankaran – Pakpaklal: His first new tune in 7 years. His status as a chutney stalwart makes him one of the most highly anticipated artists of the competition, especially since it is his debut on the Chutney Soca stage Hema Dindial – Ho Gaye and Boatride: Sister of veteran chutney artist Rasika Dindial who made it to Finals last year. The latter tune, her power chutney soca in English, marks a new musical avenue. Terry Gajraj – Party Tun Up: The only Guyanese competitor Heaven ‘Snakey’ Charles – The Dhoti Song: This tune is making huge waves, especially among non-chutney listeners. He is definitely the underdog of the competition and will also be making his debut on the Monarch stage. Olatunji – Fete Ram: A controversial tune implying that there are too many people to be found in “macumere man ting” (gay parties). The song, while catchy and witty, could mean a hit-or-miss for him, as some have begged the question of just how is he privy to that knowledge... Reshma Ramlal – Batawo Lakarie: A double entendre power chatak matak in a mix of English and Bhojpuri meaning “bring wood” - you figure it out! Prophet Benjamin – The Seamstress: Witty word play on sew: “yuh mudda so and so”! Great potential for the Finals. Rude Jude – Fire Waist: 'Hot' power chutney soca Raymond Ramnarine – Mosquito: Unclear if he will be defending the Monarchy in light of his prize money fiasco but this tune has potential. The question is if it will be strong enough to retain the title. Notable Absences this year: Drupatee Hitman Artie Butkoon (who has voluntarily decided not to compete this year due to the unfairness of the public text voting system) Stay tuned to find out how it all goes down at Semis this Saturday, February 1st!!! trinidad-carnival-chutney-soca-monarch-semi-finals