*Nah Going Home is actually 11 years old but born after the school year…;)
30 Tunes for Soca Dummies 1-10
So here ends the list. If you had gone through all the stages then you should be pretty competent by now. So read and listen through to #1 and be a Soca Dummy never again.
10. Massage (USVI/St. Kitts)
The Northern Caribbean has not been known as a production centre in terms of Soca especially where I live in the Southern Caribbean. However, a movement with a distinctive Soca sound, no doubt influenced by crunk and loud rap, has been going on for the last few years there. Pumpa’s song “Massage” is the best known of its type and managed to penetrate regionally. With lyrics not for the faint hearted, this song rocked many Carnivals, letting people know that Soca artists in the North Caribbean do indeed exist.
9. Tempted to Touch (Barbados)
Barbadian artist Rupee is one of the few Caribbean Soca artists to have received a major record label contract. Tempted to Touch was Rupee’s big hit from this period. This song featured on the soundtrack to the movie “After the Sunset” and remains Rupee’s most popular song to this day.
8. Sugar Bum Bum (Trinidad)
If Endless Vibrations was the watershed, then Sugar Bum Bum was the flood. Despite his large and illustrious body of work, “Sugar Bum Bum” was Kitchener’s most popular work. The bass line alone can cause uncontrollable revelry on over 50 Trinidadians, so play with caution.
7. Big Truck (Trinidad)
Machel Montano is probably the biggest name in Soca. In the 1990s, his band Xtatik had this hit. This song also uniquely features a reggae section which makes it a fairly different.
6. Jumbie (Trinidad)
I know this last list might seem as an ode to Machel but how can any Soca list worth its weight not have a heavy presence of one of its biggest Soca stars? Jumbie is a high tempo Soca song with a level of rhythmic intricacy in the melody that few could execute in the genre. This song and its accompanying imagery were well put together and was merely another indicator of Machel’s ability.
5. Dollar Wine (Trinidad)
Dollar Wine dates back to the end of the Classic Soca Sound and this song and accompanying dance were everywhere. Done by Collin Lucas, it is still a hit with many a hotel band throughout the Caribbean with tourists unable to pay the ‘dollars.’ And you know a song is big when it can set off related songs in other genres like Lil Rick’s Dollar Wine.
4. Fly – (Trinidad)
Destra is one of the female artists that emerged in the early 2000s along with Fay-Ann Lyons and Patrice Roberts. This song “Fly” shows her breakthrough sound, half-time melodies (borrowed from Euro-American pop music), and generous use of R&B singing.
3. Band of the Year (Trinidad)
Machel Montano is again on the list this time in a duet with Patrice Roberts. This song, with its half-time melody, was massive, introducing Roberts to a wide audience. It also won Road March in Trinidad and Tobago in 2006.
2. Tiney Winey (Jamaica)
Tiny Winey is from Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, an uptown Jamaican band that over the years made a killing from remaking popular carnival hits. This song is one of the few that was actually theirs and was arranged by super producer Leston Paul as well.
1. Carnival Train (Antigua)
Burning Flames is here again with another Antiguan Special. This song bears the usual imprint of Flames—ripping instrumental breaks, prominent drum machines and great hook combinations. This too, like Workey in list 21-30, managed to cross over in the 1980s to the other Carnivals.
So that is it my friends. You can pick up your qualification by going out and supporting Caribbean Soca artists whenever they are close to you. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.
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30 Tunes for Soca Dummies 21-30
Are you a Soca dummy? Can’t tell a wine from a pooch back a jump from a wave? Well here is a list that will help you, 30 Soca songs for dummies. The songs appear in no particular order and are merely numbered to keep you following my blog. So get smart Soca dummy, here we go:
30. Workey Workey (Antigua)
This song from Antiguan super group Burning Flames acknowledges a couple of styles, most notably Zouk, Konpas and Classic Soca. Its form is taken from the first two styles with some (comparatively) long instrumental breaks. The lyrics are suggestive in keeping with the tradition. This track never fails to destroy any Caribbean party and is part of the Soca canon. Speak ill of this tune in the Lesser Antilles and risk expulsion.
29. Differentology (Trinidad)
Bunji Garlin has been a huge name in Soca since the end of the 90s. This track from 2013 has propelled him into another popular realm. In keeping with the tradition of noticeable popular music borrowing within Soca, there is a healthy presence of (euro) house synths in “Differentology.” It also shows Bunji’s tremendous rhythmic prowess with a verse that is tasty!
28. Pump Me Up (Barbados)
This mid-nineties song more than any introduced Edwin Yearwood and Krosfyah to the region (important names to the Soca world, go and Google) “Pump Me Up” was at that time a very fresh approach to Carnival music and was responsible in large part for the eventual establishment of Ragga/Groovy Soca as a sub-genre of its own. Edwin’s vocals are unmistakable, and he continued from where David Rudder left off, by placing a R&B singing style into the rhythms of the Anglo-Caribbean. A must check for anyone interested in what Barbadians term Ragga Soca and the Trinidadians call Groovy Soca.
27. Turn Me On (St. Vincent)
Kevyn Lyttle’s smash hit is possibly the most popular Ragga Soca/Groovy Soca song ever. This early noughties number propelled Lyttle to success in 2004 and for a while threatened to open the door to Ragga/Groovy becoming the next ‘big’ thing. That did not materialise however but both the genre and the track live on.
26. Balance Batty (Dominica)
Bouyon was a style developed by Dominican group WCK. This track is the best representative of the genre and WCK gained tremendous popularity within the region from it. Sung in English, this song still gets the party going with their “Concentration” command. Possibly one of the most important Dominican Soca tunes outside of the influential Exile One group.
25. Get Something and Wave (Trinidad)
Super Blue/Blue Boy has been one of the most successful Soca artists in Trinidad. This song, “Get Something and Wave,” confirmed his legacy, as it not only won the Road March that year, but started a whole change in partying at Soca fetes, where instead of dancing alone, waving emerged as the thing to do. Described at the time as a fad, this style of partying has been going strong for the last 20 years.
24. Ragga Ragga (Barbados)
This song was not meant to be taken seriously and was in fact a filler on Red Plastic Bag’s 1993 album. However, its impact has been far-reaching with this song being a true watershed recording and being played from Panama to Chicago. It also propelled Red Plastic Bag’s career and put the studio where it was recorded, Chambers studio, run by Nicholas Brancker firmly on the map.
23. Wicked Jab (Grenada)
Wicked Jab comes from Grenadian artist Tallpree and is but one in the long line of Jab songs from Grenada. The Jab Jab is a feature of Jouvert and once again Tallpree pays tribute. Notice the conspicuous conch rhythm which is a characteristic of the Jab songs. Needless to say this one would obliterate any party in the Spice Isle.
22. Endless Vibrations (Trinidad)
For sheer historical significance alone, never mind the killing arrangement, this song would have made the list. However, it remains the breakthrough Soca track which enabled Lord Shorty (Ras Shorty I) to say his (Soca) innovation had arrived. Even though Shorty meant an Indian calypso fusion, this track with prominent guitar and snare drum opened the door for Soul and calypso fusion, on which Soca as a genre became grounded.
21. Hot, Hot, Hot (Montserrat)
“Hot Hot Hot” is possibly the biggest selling Soca track of all time. Arrow, from the satellite Soca region of Montserrat, conservatively put its sales in the millions in the mid-80s and the remake was even bigger causing many a Caribbean cruise ship and hotel band since then to have to play it. For me this track IS the Classic Soca sound and highlights the arranging style of one of the big three producers of the time, Leston Paul. (see Snapshots in Soca)
Hit follow so you won’t miss tracks 20-11 for Soca Dummies. I promise thee more big TUNES and an end to Soca ignorance.