Following a successful staging of calypso semi-finals on Sunday July 1, 2012, nine calypsonians have been chosen to compete against reigning calypso Monarch Menelle for the 2012 calypso crown.?The semi-final competition at the National Cultural Centre (NCC) featured eighteen calypsonians from the various participating tents including: Soca Village (Walleigh; Ti-Carro), Black & White Ambassadors (Bingo; Educator), Chairman’s Reserve Take Over Tent (Herb Black), De Soca-Lypso Revue (Blaze) and South Calypso Tent (Menelle; Nintus).?Dressed in a full red outfit, reigning monarch Menelle delivered two great performances to get the full house at the NCC in a calypso mood. The attendance of women compared to men at the show left the two MCs— Che Campeche’s Carlton “Coax” Cyril and Esi Hall to assume most of the men attended the weekend’s Wet Fete where majority of St Lucia’s beautiful women were expected to be. (Oops! Did they mean to say the women at the NCC were chopped liver?)?But enough of the assumptions and back to Menelle’s performances. She sang “Never Say Never,” and “All on Board.” The latter, was about a big red bus. By now you would be wondering whether it had anything to do with politics and of course, the crowd had no problems anticipating performances by this artiste and others would have much to do with politics for as soon as Menelle appeared in red, there were instant shouts of “En Rouge.”?First time participant, Julie B enticed the crowd with her rendition of “Real Prostitute.” Dressed as one of the Playboy Mansion girls, this performer kept the crowd going “coo-coo” throughout her performance even more so, when she removed her coat providing the audience with a better view of her outfit. You can just imagine the noise and screaming that erupted out of the NCC. Her second song for the night, “Deliver Us” was less exciting to the audience, perhaps because it was the total opposite of her first song. “Deliver us,” a song about prayers for the people of the Nation in order to escape the bad practices of corrupt politicians, still managed to gain much applause from the audience. Undoubtedly, this performer has secured a special place in the hearts of her listeners.?Another great and surprising performance of the evening came from second time participant, Ally Cat. She sang “Who is Going to Save She” and “This One is for You Pelay” both of which got positive responses from the audience. And I dare not say it had anything to do with her disability for this remarkable young woman displayed quite the dynamic vocal you would not expect just by looking at her. Her first song she says is about a young girl and her struggles but the second is her favourite. She says it was dedicated to Pelay not only because he was her local hero but because he was the greatest calypsonian St Lucia ever had and she wanted to show some appreciation to him publicly for the few words of encouragement he showered upon her.?Ashanti’s “Doh Call Me” was more than entertaining. Not only in his performance but lyrics as well. The song was cleverly written to tell a story of a few surnames in society who have over the past few years been reaping fortunes in St Lucia. The positive response from the crowd could almost indicate that Ashanti is finally back in the calypso arena to stay. However, his second song, “Every Day is a Hustle Day” did not manage to bring out this effect. Perhaps the audience was lost in trying to figure out why Ashanti, dressed was a woman and found it hard to focus on the melody or lyrics. Maybe, the song just did not reach the audience or perhaps, Ashanti’s days are finally over.?If Ashanti had in any way slowed down the tempo, Blaze quickly revived the crowd when he gave a spectacular performance of “Tootsie for Sale.” Originally entitled “Poom Poom for Sale,” Blaze says after his first performance, the judges along with his tent managers agreed that the words “poom poom” was too strong and needed to be changed if the song should be accepted.?He then decided to change the lyrics to “tootsie” which landed him a place in the semifinals. The artiste says he did not know which kept the crowd going more, his song or the outfit he wore to perform. Whichever it was, it did not seem to matter to the audience at all, they just loved the entertainment all round.?As if that wasn’t enough, Blaze came back in round two and surprised the audience when he performed, “Six for a Nine.” This was by far one of the evening’s best performances, both in song and performance. Could the song’s appeal have to do with the fact that it is a common scenario among many St Lucians households? A husband comes home to find his wife with another man. With four verses, this song flows naturally and the artiste did an excellent job acting it out while singing.?With crying in between, the facial expressions perhaps connected more with the audience than anything else. As he ended his last verse, a surprising twist demanded an anchor, the only encore of the evening from the audience. It remains to be seen whether this artiste will steal the heart of the judges and dethrone the reigning monarch.?Most artistes had their fair share of slip-ups during their performances and Nintus was no exception. During his performance of the song entitled, “I Pray for You,” the South Calypso Tent singer mumbled a few words causing the crowd to explode with laughter. Poor fellow kept his composure and recovered almost immediately to finish the song on a high note and still managed to gain a hearty round of applause from the audience.?With the recent incident involving a police officer and civilian in Canaries, Nintus’s “Tiway” was sure to get a positive reaction from the crowd. With all credits going to much airplay on local radio stations, most persons from the audience joined with Nintus in singing this song that advocates for children’s rights. Arguably, this has become the most popular calypso for the season and remains to be seen whether this will be the winning song for 2012.?Many of the veterans including Invader have admitted this season is a very competitive one.?Artistes such as Ally Cat, Blaze and Nintus are the ones to watch for 2012.?Come Sunday July 15th at the Beausejour Cricket Stadium the following nine finalists will do battle against the reigning Calypso Monarch Menelle: Ally Cat; Blaze; Davis; Educator; Invader; Julie B; Mary G; Nintus and Walleigh.