The Caribbean Just Might Be The Next Big Thing in Music

As 2013 comes to a close, the eyes of the world are focused on the Caribbean – and the good news is that it's not because of crime, politics or corruption. Instead, Caribbean music seems to be emerging as the next big thing.

Jamaican vocalist Tessanne Chin got the ball rolling when she earned a place in Season 5 of NBC's hit singing reality show The Voice, which she went on to win. Throughout the season, regional netizens and members of the Caribbean Diaspora were tweeting, texting and showing their support for the songstress; her win made Twitter go wild to the point where she became a trending topic.

Late last week saw a similar online frenzy, this time surrounding Trinidadian soca artiste Bunji Garlin's bid for MTV Iggy's Song of the Year. Like The Voice, the winner would be determined by votes and regional netizens took up the challenge with full force; the Polldaddy site soon crashed because of the overwhelming response from the Caribbean, which was overwhelmingly voting for Bunji's popular song “Differentology”, and fans of G-Dragon, a South Korean rapper, who wanted his song to be chosen. A face-off developed: G-Dragon had a minute lead when the polls crashed, causing MTV to call a runoff:

Wow. This has been one of the most thrilling and emotional reader polls that we’ve ever done. Song of the Year 2013 became a neck-and-neck show down for who has the most has the most passionate fans in the world.

In one corner stood Bunji Garlin. His track ‘Differentology’ demonstrated that soca didn’t just have to be confined to Trinidad and Tobago or Caribbean communities around the world; it has worldwide infectiousness that fits right in with the domination of electronic dance music in 2013. And with Tessanne Chin’s win on The Voice this week, the future is looking very Caribbean.

In the other corner stood G-Dragon.

Both fan camps put their time and energy into making sure that their favorite artist pulled far and away from other notable contenders…All of that was paying off until, with less than an hour to go… The poll froze. We worked as hard as we could to fix the problem (which is likely outside of our ability to fix), but THE FANS WERE TOO MUCH FOR THE SERVERS TO HANDLE. At the time that the poll, the margin between between the two artists was .02%.

After a staff discussion, we only thought it would be fair to give the fans a little bit more time. You now have until 5pm EST this evening (12/20/13) to choose just between Bunji Garlin’s ‘Differentology’ and G-Dragon’s ‘Crooked’ for MTV Iggy Song of the Year.

The declaration sent Caribbean netizens on a mission – Dion Boucaud was one of them, encouraging his Facebook friends to vote. Twitter was also in on the action from very early on.

After the site crashed and MTV declared that the voting would be suspended, Boucaud responded to the unhappy South Korean commentary on this Twitter hashtag, saying:

What ah go say, the Trini spirit is strong.

His status update sums up one of the most tangible things to come out of this new wave of Caribbean music – that the Internet and social media are making it possible for fans’ voices to be heard and for regional citizens to show their patriotism with online support. By way of explanation, Boucaud challenged another Facebook user, who thought all the hype surrounding the voting was unnecessary:

So someone is apparently questioning our sanity. Asking ‘what's wrong with us’. My response. ‘Sigh! Perhaps your question should be introspective. Yes it started out as a competition for a Song, but the poll has now evolved to see who has the most dedicated fan base. Full Stop. We are not as vapid as you are painting us out to be. 2) there are only 1.3 million Trinis vs 50 million Koreans, so it would be very erroneous to assume the WE are the only ones voting for Bunji. This is just pure fun. But a deep showing of National pride in a competition that hurts no one gets condemnation. What I won. A night online sharing a moment with friends and strangers to see one of my countrymen get international recognition. And that's priceless. Bless.’

The battle was finally declared a tie:

Boucaud responded to the news on Facebook:

A Draw and a call to collaborate between the Dragon and the Viking. Yeah I'll take that. Well fought VIKINGS

The battle, the draw and the global attention for home-grown talent like Bunji Garlin and Tessanne Chin will no doubt be buoying Caribbean netizens well into 2014.


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