Although, the Road March is still to be officially declared, there is little doubt that it is a sure bet for the title and prize of a car from the competition’s sponsor Vibe CT 105FM.
“Palance” enjoyed a heavy rotation from the start of the Parade of the Bands at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain at about 8.20 am when the large band Harts crossed the stage with their presentation “50”.
Since then, for every successive band, the DJs on music trucks played “Palance”, mostly alternating between the original version and the “road mix” made to be played especially for Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
The song echoed across the country to other main Carnival venues, such as Arima, Chaguanas, San Fernando and Tobago where it was undoubtedly the people’s song with its energetic melody, catchy refrain and accompanying dance as masqueraders swayed in a spontaneous choreography.
It’s the first time since Nigel and Marvin Lewis’ Road March “Movin” in 1996, whose instructions to move “left, right, down south and up north” were obediently followed by revellers, that a song has had a similar unrehearsed effect.
Masqueraders enjoyed every moment and took every opportunity to lean and stagger from left to right when the chorus of “Palance” was heard. One DJ on a music truck playing for Tribe masqueraders, took the opportunity to involve spectators in the revelry by encouraging those in the stands at the Savannah to stand and do the dance as well.
At Adam’s Smith Square, it was clear that “Palance” was the runaway favourite for masqueraders.
When the Belmont Jewels arrived at the square with their 2010 offering Pirates and Plunderers, one band member became visibly upset when the DJ stopped playing “Palance” in favour of another song. As he gesticulated to the DJ, urging him to play “Palance”, another band member tried to calm him down.
Even the steelbands got into the act with Sagicor Exodus playing “Palance” as they rolled past the square on their way to downtown Port-of-Spain.
At High Street, San Fernando, masqueraders, almost on cue, leaned from side to side, whenever Palance played. A few contrasting melodies floated through the overpowering refrain of “Palance”, such as Groovy Soca Monarch finalist Rikki Jai’s chutney soca hit “Barman”.
Several traditional bands chose to go with songs to reflect their portrayals such as Belmont Jewels which played three-time Road March winner Christopher “Tambu” Herbert’s hits, such as “Play Mr DJ”, a song of a much slower tempo than the frenetic “Palaaance, Palaaance” chorus.
The late Road March king Lord Kitchener’s “Sugar Bum Bum” also enjoyed moderate air-play. So too did, “Wining on anything” by Buffy, Fay Ann’s “True Lies”, Destra Garcia and Machel Montano’s previous hit “It’s Carnival” and Shurwayne Winchester’s former Road March “Dead or Alive”. The popularity of “Palance” surged over the Carnival season as the song has been used in several commercials, the most high-profile of which is the humorous KFC ad, featured the heads of JW (Jason Williams) and Blaze (Ancil Isaac Jr), who are also radio and television personalities, in cartoon-styled characters.