On Thursday, Billboard gave props to 29-year-old Jamaican artist OMI, naming his song “Cheerleader” the ‘Song of the Summer’.
This is huge for OMI, born Omar Samuel Pasley, for several reasons, chief among them being that Billboard sort of sets the tone in the American music industry. As an outfit devoted to music, it does the research, notices the trends and its charts are closely followed by hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
“Cheerleader”, a catchy song which OMI first released in 2012, was recently remixed by young German music-producing sensation Felix Jaehn, who some say has the Midas touch when it comes to music. “Cheerleader” was moderately successful when it was first launched but with Jaehn’s international retouches it has truly taken off.
Just how much has “Cheerleader” taken off? Well for starters, Pentatonix, possibly the sweetest acapella group around now, has already done a rocking cover of it, which is beautiful in its simplicity.
OMI has done a new video as well, replacing the original, which had a gangster/robbery/con slant, with one that is just too typical – wining girls. I’m still trying to decide which one I like less, as much as I love the song.
The reason why, for me, neither of the videos fit, is because “Cheerleader” is so clearly a love song. It has a kind of a Beres Hammond feel to it, in the sense that it lifts up rather than brings down women. And before the Beres fans begin to see red, please note that I have made that analogy simply because both men are Jamaican and not because I think OMI can fit into Beres’s shoes.
In “Cheerleader” OMI bucks the trend of the ‘average’ Jamaican artiste. Not only does he not sing dancehall or reggae, but he successfully hypes and plugs monogamy, which is really refreshing. “Cheerleader” is a feel-good song and OMI’s sincere voice—he also uses a mere hint of his Jamaican accent, which is somehow really sexy—makes it believable. And this is a good thing.
Up against songs such as Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again”, Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”, The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face”, Bruno Mar’s popular “Uptown Funk” and others, “Cheerleader” held its own to become the song that owned the summer.
Every year Billboard tracks the songs that get the most airplay between June and September and then names the best one as its ‘Song of the Summer’. And while it’s not the same thing as earning the pole position on the Billboard Top 100 Chart, this accolade means the song, which saw significant play during that period and is now likely to see much more.
Once it gets the Billboard nod, it’s bound to take off. And not just the song, but the artiste. So OMI is set to be the next Jamaican to make some waves in the US.
He has an album ‘Me 4 U’ that is due out on October 16 and has already released one single from it “Hula Hoop” which is getting rave reviews. In fact, some commenters are saying they like “Hula Hoop” better than “Cheerleader.” Not me though.
Maybe it’s just a ‘thing’, but I do tend to hold on to the song the first drew me in. Perhaps it’s just a loyalty thing – I don’t know. But “oh I think I’ve found myself a cheerleader.”