Words by Jam Central, Marcha M. Johnson, Tishanna Williams and Jesse Serwer
2014 was another groundbreaking year for soca, marked by its growing popularity not just in Caribbean nations, but worldwide. There was even a Carnival in Norway this summer, with mas bands chipping their way through medieval streets in Oslo.
The featured performer at that event, Bunji Garlin, had another big year full of crossover success, performing on 106 and Park and dropping the first album by a soca artist on a major label in a decade. When it came time for Trinidad Carnival, Machel Montano was still king, winning the Power Soca Monarch and Road March titles with “Ministry of Road (M.O.R.).” Barbados had something of a resurgence, led by upstart duo Lead Pipe & Saddis aka Porgie & Murda, who had hits in both of their highly entertaining guises. St. Vincent, too, made its presence felt, thanks largely to Vincy producer (and Major Lazer secret-weapon) Kubiyashi. All these positive developments made it tough to choose a Top 10 this year—we had to expand our scope to include 14 tunes just to capture the energy that was soca in 2014.
So how do we decide what to include? It’s not just about Soca Monarch contests and Road March wins. A few factors are considered: Which songs have crossover appeal beyond the particular island and Carnival from which they originate? And which have had the most staying power, generating a similar electricity in December, as they did at Carnival or Crop Over? Which ones do we really like? It’s those songs that are highest on this list. Of course, none of this is scientific so, let the jumping, waving, wining and debating begin…