6. Antigua and Barbuda — ‘Don’t Stop The Music’ by King Short Shirt
Another challenging one. With less than 100000 citizens, the selection of albums to pick from wasn’t that big. I selected ‘Don’t Stop The Music’ by Sir MacLean Emanuel — better known in Antigua as King Short Shirt. Born in 1942, he is the nation’s most successful calypsonian.
In the beginning, I struggled with this album. It feels long — 11 songs that last over an hour — and there’s not much variety in its production. It reminded me of that keyboard I had as a child in the late 80s, that had all those preset rhythms and melodies. Every song has a karaoke feeling to it — a distance between King Short Shirt’s voice and the instruments, and you can imagine him singing in his restaurant (called Shorty’s Bar-B-Q) whilst people are having a chat and a drink.
I think I’ve only played the album once in its entirety. Most of the times, I stop it every two or three tracks. Maybe the circumstances (writing this in London, in December, and 2020) don’t allow me to enjoy the tropical vibes that the music has.
According to Wikipedia, his lyrics are full of social commentary against injustice of all kinds. I tried to focus on that. Then I listened to the song ‘The Password’ a few times, and now I’m hooked. “The password / can somebody help me / the password / I forgot it already / is it ABC123 / the password / and I need it instantly / please make it easy”. It made me wonder why hasn’t Taylor Swift ever written a song about the pain of passwords.
This song is definitely the highlight the album. Other than that, you need to get over the fact that the album is what it is. You shouldn’t take it too seriously, as it is obvious that neither King Short Shirt did. It is meant to be light, fun, and even though fun albums can be made with a lot of effort — and this doesn’t seem to be the case — I wouldn’t mind swapping this dreary winter weather for a trip to Antigua and Barbuda and have this as the soundtrack of my holiday.