Last year's winner Mr Killa won't be competing in the finals of the Play Whe International Soca Monarch (ISM) but might make an appearance.
ISM creative director Simon Baptiste said, “We had a really positive dialogue yesterday with him and his team and we are going to try to be full of surprises on the night.” The ISM finalists draw was held at the NLCB booth, Queen’s Park Oval, Tragarete Road, Port of Spain on Wednesday.
Last Saturday Mr Killa caused shock waves by announcing that he would not defend his crown because he had not been given the details and tools he needed to prepare for his performance.
At the draw Baptiste also revealed some future plans for the ISM show, including patterning it after the Super Bowl half-time show or the Grammys. He also said there would be a new stage.
Baptiste told the finalists and the media, “Our desire is to get this show to more like something that you will look at, let’s say a Super Bowl half-time performance or a Grammy or Oscars. That is kind of where our head is at. It is not going to happen overnight.”
He added that there were several new aspects to this year’s show, including each performer having a six-minute time limit. Other changes included the show being more TV-friendly and having several segments including a tribute to Ras Shorty I, one for emerging and established women in the soca industry and a dancehall/zesser segment. Baptiste said there will also be a surprise guest performer.
“We are doing a lot of things that are different. But we are also in a sense embracing our youth, embracing movements, embracing the power of our artistes, male or female,” Baptiste said.
US choreographer and artistic director Chris Scott has been enlisted to assist with this year’s show. Scott has worked on the Step Up movie franchise and on this year’s Super Bowl half-time performance by Jennifer Lopez and Shakira .
Baptiste said Scott was coming to develop the segments so they feel more fluid and advise the finalists on making better presentations.
He added ISM’s organisers intend to set up an advisory board to get "key players” to help “forge a path forward so that this is not an event that we look at that takes place over a period of a couple days, but rather 365 days.”
He added a problem event organisers have in TT is that they typically start planning mere months before the event.
“If we want to bring this event back to the good old days, as they call it – where you have tens of thousands – we have to build trust not only among the artistes but among our communities."
Baptiste said the ISM finals has waned in popularity over the years from an attendance standpoint, but has grown in viewership globally.
Order of appearance for ISM finals:
1. Mr Renzo (Fan Fave)
3. Mical Teja
5. Luni Spark and Electrify
6. Shal Marshall
7. Neil “Iwer” George
8. Prophet Benjamin
10. Problem Child
12. Trinidad Ghost
2. Asten Isaac
5. Kerry John
7. Ding Dong
8. College Boy Jesse
10. Skinny Banton
12. Swappi (reigning Groovy monarch)
Correction: An earlier version of this story's headline said Mr Killa will be at Soca Monarch finals. That headline was misleading and has been changed. Newsday regrets the error.