Soca: the music of Carnival!

Other | Thursday 21st February 2013 | Varala


Last week Tuesday was just another cold day for us in the UK. But in the Caribbean, it was Carnival! This is a party so big, it goes on for two full days of celebration each year in Trinidad and Tobago. People from all over the world flock to the islands for this. They call it, ‘the greatest show on earth’.


So what exactly is this ‘Carnival’?

A parade, a dance party, a glitter show, a costume display, an excuse to be half naked in the streets, an artistic expression, a design competition and a scandal. What do they all have in common? They all fuse together with the burning sun to make Carnival!

It’s so much fun, that now it takes place all over the world with festivals like Caribana in Canada and Notting Hill Carnival in London.


What on earth is ‘soca’?

Soca is a genre of Caribbean music that stems from calypso and reggae elements amongst many others. Soca is the music of Carnival. It is the soundtrack for ‘the road’ (the experience of playing carnival). But soca has been changing over the years.  

A classic soca hit that encapsulates what Carnival is all about is Destra Garcia’s ‘It’s Carnival’. Have a listen to the Caribbean party anthem that Nicki Minaj calls her “fave song in the whole wide world”.



But that was soca ten years ago. Over the years, the game has been changing, with artists like Kes including more pop elements to his tracks to crossover to an international audience. It’s still soca, but with a completely new sound. You can hear the electronic, pop and dance vibes layered with soca styles in his much-loved release ‘Precision Wine’.



In addition to soca artists like Super Blue and Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin had one of the best songs of the season. His release ‘Differentology’ is chanted in unison at fetes (Caribbean parties). This one is another game changer, with Orange Sky guitarist, Nigel Rojas’ instrumentals giving this song a truly unique sound.



If you're a Trinidadian native like me and missed your chance to be in T&T this Carnival, or you just want to experience a soca club night in London, check out Busspepper’s Carnival Tabanca on 2nd March 2013. 

By Varala Maraj