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How we predicted Road March 2019

A full week before road march, we predicted who would win. I'm sure you’d want to know how. In this article, we’ll look at how we predicted Famalay as the Winner for Road March 2019 using Neuroscience and Data. This may be the future of judging for Carnival.


The Road March competition for Trinidad Carnival, goes back almost a century with Inveigler winning in 1930. It’s an important part of the Carnival story and has crowned the chords of legends like: Railway Douglas, Kitchener, Mighty Duke and Super Blue. Not even world war could drum out, with its bedlam of death, the strains of Rum and Coca Cola by Invader. Put simply, the Road March tradition in Trinidad and Tobago is older than our sovereignty and is a resilient part of our culture.

Orchestrated or Obeah

Over the years, the way it worked was imbued with mysticism and skepticism. This seemed especially the case when Machel Montano began claiming nearly every crown there was. Some suggested it was the colloquial bobol that secured victory while others agreed it was his inextricable talent and yet, others couldn’t care less and wined into Ash Wednesday without worry.

I wonder

Yes. I wondered, “which was it?”. I don’t claim by any means to be a Soca connoisseur but the niggling skepticism still remained amidst the obviousness of judging criteria. By the end of my little jaunt through history, I realized that Machel is much like the Kitchener of our time who won 8 out of 10 Road Marches from 1963-1973.

Given this newfound information, I wondered if maybe Trinis have an awkward relationship with excellence. To be extraordinary is to be imaginary, somehow unreal and thus self-invalidating. It reminds me of a craft gift-exchange I had when I was in standard 3 and Ms. Incredulity (not her real name) thought I bought the item rather than made it. If this hasn’t happened to you in Trinidad, it sure has happened to someone you know. Put simply, the response to Road March swiftly became “too good is no good”, but I digress.

Yet the wonder did not cease. Is there some way to quiet the skepticism of the Carnival conspiracists? Is there some way to subdue the deviousness of the Soca Mafia? Is there some way we could quiet our suspicions empirically and with science, yet represent our subjectivity and choice? Almost paradoxical right? Given all the odds, we found it. The first of its kind in the Caribbean. Allegori, a Neuro-Innovation company based in Trinidad and Tobago that has developed amongst other things, a method for assessing and rating our content; from Soca to smoothies and even ads. To say the applications are broad would be both oversimplified and understated. I’m sure you’re wondering how we did it. Here's how.

The Current Method

Currently, the song played most often at the judging points along the parade route Dons the title of Road March for that year. The Kings of Soca 2019 are Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin and Skinny Fabulous who sang the vocals for Famalay and the excellence of Travis World engineered the rhythm on which they performed.

Our Method

The current method is simple and will likely be the staple for Road March selection for years to come. It is, however, subject to interference. We proposed The Brain Choice method that examines the brain activity of listeners to rate the excitement, engagement and interest of the music.

The Brain and music

A study by Stanford University School of Medicine, showed that regardless of musical taste, the brain responds almost identically to music. Dr. Vinod Menon and his team uncovered this by doing an FMRI study. They placed a lot of emphasis on the music rather than lyrics since it could be a confounding variable. Maybe the true winner is Travis World but that’s a conversation for another article.

“Activity levels in several different places in the brain responded similarly from one individual to the next to music”


This was a core premise for us when executing this study and provided a sure footing for its use in the future as a prospective measure for rating, ranking and evaluating regional content - A process we are excited to engage in for years to come.

The Procedure

  • A public Ad was placed requesting participants for the study. 10 participants contributed in total (4 male, 6 female).
  • They each suggested a list of 5 songs which they considered their top Soca tunes for 2019. Song selections along with those suggested from viewers on TTT were accepted.
  • The top 5 songs were then selected using a simple tally method.
  • 40 seconds of the selected songs were played in this order:
  • Famalay- Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin and Skinny Fabulous
  • Savannah Grass- Kes
  • Issa Snack- Nessa Preppy, Machel Montano
  • Run Wid it- Mr. Killa
  • Alive and Well- Voice
  • Flying High- Machel Montano
  • 15 seconds of white noise was played before each song
  • Using an EEG device, we recorded raw EEG waves for each song and white noise.
  • Data was collected and processed using python analytics package pandas.
  • The EEG scores were converted to Excitement, Interest and Engagement scores using third-party algorithms.
  • The scores were aggregated across participants and each song was ranked.
  • An overall score was given and the song with the highest score was awarded the Brain Choice Award
  • Other subcategories were selected
  • Men’s Choice
  • Women’s Choice

Watch Video

Click here to see what happened during the experiment.


Brain Choice Award Winner

Soca Songs 2019- Points

  1. Famalay- 650.7407407
  2. Issa snack- 622.2222222
  3. Flying High- 622.2222222
  4. Run wid it- 602.7160494
  5. Alive and Well- 589.6296296
  6. Savannah Grass- 573.3333333

Men’s Choice


Women’s Choice

Issa Snack


The brain’s response to music is stereotypical, therefore, we can use this to understand how fans and even customers engage with our music and even ads.

This was an incredibly enjoyable experience for us and the panel and we will be expanding this Award to other genres including Gospel and Reggae in 2019. Want to be part of one of our panels? Sign up here.

This Award opens up the conversation about the way we rate our products and provides another way to do it that solves the paradoxical nature of subjective objectivity.

We are giving 10,000 TTD of our service to the charity of choice in Trinidad for Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin and Skinny Fabulous.

What do you think about this year's Road March? What was your top pick?