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 11-20

20. Pan in A Minor (Trinidad)

Lord Kitchener is one of the foremost composers in Calypso and one of the important composers of the pan Calypso style. Pan in A minor is one of the most famous of these pan songs and features the Classic Soca Sound by super producer Leston Paul. This song is a staple of pan players globally and still rocks a crowd.

 

19.  Faluma (Barbados/Suriname)

Faluma, by the Barbadian band Square One, was a massive hit in the mid-1990s. It was a remake of a song from Suriname and lead vocalist Alison Hinds, though not a speaker of the language, learnt the song phonetically. The song uses the Soca beat common at that time and is one of the great Wuk-Up songs in Barbados. This track is still a major part of Alison Hinds’ repertoire to this day.

 

18.  Head Bad (St. Vincent)

Vincentian Soca has not been as dominant as that from Trinidad and Barbados. However, Skinny Fabulous has emerged as a new Soca star and is not only incredibly popular in his homeland, but also in the other Soca locations in the Caribbean. “Head Bad” is testament to that, and its horn intro alone ravages any party.

 
 

17.  Dr. Cassandra (Barbados)

Gabby, like Red Plastic Bag looked at earlier, was known as a calypsonian. Gabby however had already had an earlier hit with “Boots,” which came out of his earlier work with Eddy Grant. Dr. Cassandra however was one of the most popular songs on the Eddie Grant constructed Ring Bang rhythm. It features a completely stripped down arrangement with plenty of drums. This still holds Caribbean audiences to this day.

 

16.   Pressure Boom (St. Lucia)

Ricky T is from St. Lucia, and like Skinny Fabulous has emerged in the last 5 years within Soca. During that time he has become one of the premier Soca stars from St. Lucia. His song “Pressure Boom” from 2009 is largely responsible for this regional recognition.

 

15.   Chutney Bacchanal (Trinidad)

Chris Garcia has quite harshly been described as one-hit Soca wonder. He was in fact much more than just a singer and appeared on regional television as an actor in a leading Trinidadian soap. His song Chutney Bacchanal was absolutely massive in 1996 and had everyone saying the non-English (non-anything) chorus. It is also a unique beast as it is a Soca song with a story and though not strictly Chutney Soca, it had enough elements of it to have introduced audiences to this sub-genre.

 

 

14.  Lotala (Trinidad)

“Lotala is one of the biggest crossover Chutney Soca tracks ever. Sung originally by Sonny Man, the remix, featuring General Grant and Denise Belfon, went on to destroy fetes all throughout the Caribbean. On Lotala, the usual Chutney sounds,such as the harmonium and singing style are present and Sonny Man lends the expected singing style.

 

 

13.  Small Pin (St. Vincent)

Before Skinny Fabulous, Beckett was the most popular artist in the Soca/Calypso genre from St. Vincent. This song, “Small Pin,” is his most famous and the chorus still earns some laughter.

 

 
12.   Blue (Trinidad)
 

12.   Blue (Trinidad)

I included “Blue” not necessarily for its overwhelming popularity. It is known but there are some not in this list that are more famous. I put “Blue,” by 3 Canal, here because of its unique rhythm and the fact that is a Rapso song, another sub-genre of Soca. Rapso features greater use of speech in melody and it is political. However, this song isn’t and is a J’ouvert song like Tall Pree’s Jab.

 

 

11.   Soca Baptist (Trinidad)

This early Soca song from 1980 was before the Classic Soca song took root. Although it was arranged by Pelham Goddard, one of the big three producers of the Classic Soca Sound, it utilised the two and four rhythm on the drum set like the early experiments after Endless Vibrations. This song won the Road March for Blue Boy, later Super Blue and is still a favourite among those from that generation. Then again who could resist that hook?