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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMB Abroad


The season is here, millions of people from around the world will gather to celebrate Carnival in Trinidad. Thousands of people are seen in the streets dancing and partying. Queens Park Savanna overflows with tourists and locals conversing while music is heard from miles away. It’s time for Carnival and people from all over the world pay thousands of dollars—no matter the currency—to come celebrate, participate, and enjoy the once a year festival. Women dress in bikini-like clothing, masks, and headdresses, all of which are adorned with beads and feathers that dangle. Men’s costumes look like royal clothing from ancient Egypt. Extravagant makeup covers both male and female faces as this conservative country lets loose. Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad, is engulfed with colors, performers, and most of all with Soca. 

Soca is the music of Carnival. It is played everywhere from about January to Carnival time (which varies every year between February and March) throughout all of Trinidad and most of the Caribbean. Cabs, student’s dorm rooms, people’s iPods, street vendors, grocery stores, and restaurants are booming with Soca 24/7 during this time of year.

Carnival music has transformed over the past few years from Calypso to Soca. Calypso is another form of Caribbean music but it is generally slower and harder to ‘whine’ to (a Caribbean form of dancing that involves extreme versions of grinding including bending over, or picking the female up and wrapping her legs around a male’s waist). Soca is upbeat, busy music that people love to dance, or whine to. There areabout 30 Soca songs a season that are played over and over again and as Soca artists produce them, they gain heavy radio play. There are no albums, no release dates, and no stealing of music off the internet; it is all about just having these songs for the Carnival celebration. The music has its own tempo and is easily recognizable because of the style, the topics sang about are similar to modern pop and rap music with Caribbean and specifically ‘Trini’ slang mixed in. Some examples of these words are ‘wotless’ (promiscuous), ‘vexed’ (pissed), and ‘limin’ (hanging out, or getting to know a guy). 

Every year there is Soca Monarch, which is the biggest competition for Soca in the world. Artists produce songs in two different divisions: power and groovy. The groovy songs are more relaxed, while the power is upbeat, strong, loud, and fun. The tickets to Soca Monarch are 250TT (about $50USD) for general admission, and the show lasts over six hours.

This year there was a record high attendance and lasted until 5:00 am. Kes Dieffenthaler won the groovy division with the song “Wotless,” and was awarded half-a-million TT. Machel Montano, a returning Soca artist, won the power division with the song “Advantage,” for a prize of 2 million TT.