Unlike the scathing post-mortems that infested social media platforms following the completion of the 2015 Chutney Soca Monarch Semi-Finals, I want to begin my brief commentary by stating that I was generally pleased with how the show turned out. While things were not perfect – from the live programming provided by official media partner WIN Caribbean TV to some performances – I got a strong sense of a genuine attempt to showcase the best of Indo-Caribbean popular music on the public, national and international stage that night. Most contestants brought their ‘A games’ with presentations that rivalled the kind of extravagant displays more expected at the Finals. I was particularly impressed with the Traditional round of competition. For those who have never been to a matikoor or cooking night (Hindu prenuptial celebrations), the sound and style of the music heard in that first category greatly evoked those experiences. The Chutney Soca round was definitely more youthful, modern, and Soca Monarch-influenced, and George Singh should be applauded for his efforts to strike a balance between the traditional and contemporary audiences by splitting the competition this year. It is a trend that should continue in future. However, the choice of finalists leaves a lot to be desired. The Traditional category is heavily biased toward former monarchs and veterans of the industry. I’m startled and disappointed that there isn’t more youthful representation, as Nishard Mayrhoo, Saleem Beharry and Artie Butkoon had some of the strongest Traditional performances and they are nowhere to be found. I find this potentially damaging as it can discourage the younger generation from tapping into the chatak-matak market and demonstrating not only musical versatility but an honest commitment to upholding tradition and appreciating ancestral roots. The Chutney Soca category mostly features, as expected, the young crop and the few performers of non-Indian descent. I’m surprised that Andy Singh has advanced while other shoo-ins, like Veekash Sahadeo, Reshma Ramlal and Sally Sagram, are missing, but I’m pleased to see Nadia Batson and Crazy in the ranks. Noticeably missing from both categories is Adesh Samaroo who, in the past, has been a consistent finalist. While it is true that not everyone can advance when half of the contestants have to be eliminated, industry politics clearly plays a significant role in determining the outcome. There is inherent bias toward certain artists, particularly on the part of the promoter, and that makes it even more difficult to provide some kind of indication as to who will emerge victorious. There is also the unfair system of public text and online voting – which should be reinvented as a ‘People’s Choice’ prize – beginning hours before the first contestant even steps on the stage. While I won’t make any predictions, I guarantee a very exciting and tense showdown at Skinner Park, San Fernando come Saturday, January 31 when the Finals of the 2015 Chutney Soca Monarch come off in what promises to be a very grand affair. Again, our Finalists are as follows: TRADITIONAL CHUTNEY CATEGORY Rooplal G – Lage Re Drupatee – Dholakawa Rasika Dindial – Cooko Ru Heeralal Rampartap – Suno Suno Hemlatha Dindial – Kuku Kar Kai Kai Ravi B/Rikki Jai – Chale Awoh Boodram Holass – Phoolan Kay Har Rakesh Yankaran – Doo Doo Darling Rawytee Ramroop – Nache Nachaniya Kavita Maharajh – Loota Loota   CHUTNEY SOCA CATEGORY Ravi B/Rikki Jai – CSM 20 Rooplal G – Celebration Nadia Batson – Sunday Indian Movie Edwin Ayoung (Crazy) – Respect D’ Elder Nishard Mayrhoo – Mischief Maker Anil Bheem – Trinidad Andy Singh – Inside Di Party Artie Butkoon – Friend Zone Saleem Beharry – Next Man Wife KI Persad – No Gyal Again Cultural researcher by choice, culture lover by nature, DJ MACO is a Canadian-born but Caribbean-bred chutney soca-cologist during the day and an amateur beat-mixer by night. When he’s not working on his PhD, he’s busy pelting waist, drinking gin and rum (in that order) and living life like he’s playing mas. He’s really not that macocious, by the way, and you can reach him at setdemoff@hotmail.com https://www.facebook.com/macociousvibes