Sean Drakes/CON/LatinContent Editorial/Getty Images
The audience cheers and dances at a Machel Montano concert in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in February.
The audience cheers and dances at a Machel Montano concert in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in February. Sean Drakes/CON/LatinContent Editorial/Getty Images
Soca music is not for the faint at heart. The Trinidadian genre is calypso's faster, raunchier, studio-driven wayward child; the word comes from "soul of calypso," and the genre was inaugurated in the 1970s by calypsonian Lord Shorty, who merged calypso with East Indian tones. It's also the soundtrack to the multicultural island's grand Carnival, which erupts on the streets of Port of Spain every year in late February.
As such, soca is crafted to generate what Trinidadians call bacchanal: the irrepressible urge to dance, jump, sweat, wave hands in the air and, to use hip-hop speak, generally wile out. It's party music with feverish directives. Pace and lyrics generally tell you whether to bubble (rotate hips casually), wine (gyrate waist intently) or jump and wave (usually with a flag, preferably a Trinidadian one, flung up and down to the music, which can approach 170 beats per minute).
New soca is released in Trinidad at a frenzied pace in the two months or so leading up to Carnival, as artists compete to have the most popular songs on the big day and at dozens of fetes leading up to it. After Carnival in Trinidad, the music packs up and emigrates, enlivening carnivals across the globe: Toronto in August, New York in September, Miami in October and so on.
Below is a sample of some of this season's hottest new songs for Carnival and beyond.
Wile Or Wine: 12 Soca Songs For Carnival