clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Let’s Get Weird—All World All Time Best Song Competition: Trinidad & Tobago

Well, this is a different mix of stuff.

WOMAD Festival At Charlton Park, Wiltshire Photo by C Brandon/Redferns

Feel free to click on the first Global Song Competition post in which we determined “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” was Australia’s best ever contribution to music to learn the rules of this game. In short, we didn’t want to talk about the aftermath of the last regular season baseball series, so Andrew started a distraction contest to...

...determine the greatest song of all time, based on my limited knowledge of music and other countries.

First, we’ll go with the smattering of countries I can accurately point to on a globe and spell correctly—sorry, Kyrgustan (nope: it was Kyrgyzstan)—and then, we’ll go state by state in the good ol’ US of A.

*Note: Feel free to disagree with my choices violently, and suggest better songs in the comments. I will not listen to you, nor will it affect the outcome of this ridiculous distraction contest, but I want you all to feel both seen and heard, even though I don’t know what most of you look like, nor sound like, but I want you all to feel effectively placated.

So the four Jethro Tull songs split Scotland’s vote, allowing 500 Miles to slip through with a plurality. Also, Final Countdown won Sweden, although I have no idea if that counts or not. I mean, it’s no less weird than Potato Pride, right?

I can tell this is breaking what’s left of my mind, because I’ve been sitting around willingly listening to Uzbek pop music. Yes, I know this is the Trinidadian entry. No, I have no idea what that means for my terrifyingly fragile sanity.

Let’s...let’s just get on Trinidad and Tobago, shall we? Yes indeed.

The Songs

1) Sir Lancelot - Atomic Energy

Sweet Lord, what a find. Trinidad is the birthplace of calypso, and here we go. This is clearly from the late 1940s given the subject matter, but the recording quality sounds like an Edison wax cylinder (fine, it was probably an old shellac 78).

This reminds me of those really weird war-era propaganda Warner Brothers cartoons. The ones with the one-off characters, where nearly the whole thing is just a song and dance number, and you’re sitting there like “I just wanted to see Wile E. Coyote fall off a cliff, what even is this.” Or Duck and Cover! Holy crap, it’s the anti-Duck and Cover.

This showed up on a Spotify-generated Trinidadian playlist, and other artists included The Great Honourable Lord Pretender, The Duke of Iron, Lord Invader, and (I swear I am not making this up) Attila the Hun.

The lyrics really are something though, so give it a listen. Then it’s up to you to crusade, and see that no more bombs are made.

2) Calypso Rose - Calypso Blues

I love the world’s tiniest keyboard making a cameo at the beginning. It needed Lord Vinheteiro playing it on YouTube, while staring straight into your soul. That’s my primary suggestion for improvement here. It should also make my computer spew money out of the USB ports, but that doesn’t seem terribly likely.

Calypso Rose has been doing this since the 1950s. She performed at Coachella a couple of years ago, and has won an unbelievable number of awards. She’s also originally from Tobago, so this gets us a Tobagonian entry as well. Woo-hoo!

3) Billy Ocean - Caribbean Queen

I know, I know, I could’ve included “Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car” as well. If Scotland taught us anything, it’s not to split the vote.

This is as 80s as it gets, hit #1 on the Billboard Top 40, and won him the 1985 Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. As it should have, this is a classic. If you’re really bored, pay attention a minute in. You’ll see a European Queen poster, which immediately changes back to Caribbean Queen at the next cut. Oops!

The sax solo admittedly isn’t as great as Junior Walker’s in “Urgent,” but what is?

4) Haddaway - What Is Love

Back in the Sweden post, I commented that 90s Eurodance was like a fever dream. Watch this video if you haven’t before, and see how long it takes you to lose it. I resent the death of this genre so very much. It’s the Earthbound of music.

(I swear the entire decade wasn’t like this. Wait, was it? Oh God, what did I miss being stranded in rural Tennessee? No, there’s no way this was real. The 90s was watching Vanderbilt football have a decade of losing seasons, and basketball make the NIT every year...wait a minute.

Except the 90s had Chrono Trigger and Eurodance for distractions, and now we have cable news and social media. In conclusion, everything is terrible. Po dangum.)

Honorable Mentions

Trinidad Steel Band - Mongoose

I’m pretty sure steel drum music is designed to be listened to in 30-60 second intervals, and then it just turns into an endurance contest. The vocal harmonies while they yell “mongoose!” at the end are pretty sweet, though. It’s like Trinidad’s answer to “Tequila.”

ABBA - Kisses of Fire

This doesn’t have anything to do with Trinidad or Tobago. I’m just aghast Tom only knows one ABBA song, and seeking to rectify that.

Vote in the Poll


Which Trinidadian or Tobagonian entry should represent their islands in this contest?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Sir Lancelot - Atomic Energy
    (5 votes)
  • 32%
    Calypso Rose - Calypso Blues
    (11 votes)
  • 20%
    Billy Ocean - Caribbean Queen
    (7 votes)
  • 32%
    Haddaway - What Is Love
    (11 votes)
34 votes total Vote Now

Up Next


Which "U" country will U (hurr!) vote for?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    (14 votes)
  • 29%
    (8 votes)
  • 14%
    (4 votes)
  • 3%
    (1 vote)
27 votes total Vote Now