Cheerleader
by OMI

Album: Me 4 U (2012)
Charted: 1 1
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Songfacts®:

  • Omar Samuel Pasley is a Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter who records under the name of OMI. He was discovered by international talent wizard Clifton "Specialist" Dillon (who has also also worked with Shabba Ranks), and signed with Ultra Music, a division of Sony Music.
  • In the United States, cheerleaders are typically a team of females who perform organized cheering, chanting and dancing in support of a sports team at a match. This 2012 single finds OMI singing of having found the right girl, whom he describes as a "cheerleader" as she's always there to support him when he needs her.
  • This started off as merely a musical interlude on the album - it wasn't supposed to be a full song.
  • The song was produced by Dillon and features the talents of Sly and Robbie and saxophonist Dean Fraser.
  • OMI's single became a hit after being remixed by German DJ Felix Jaehn.
    Jaehn recalled to Artist Direct: "That was early 2014. I was putting out songs online at that time mainly bootlegs. I just remixed songs I liked and found online. Record companies started to contact me to do official remixes, and one of those songs was OMI's 'Cheerleader.' They sent into me in the original version which was reggaeton released in 2012. I felt the vibes, had a great vision, and thought I could do something with it. So, I asked for the acapella. Then, I took the vocal, made it a lot faster, almost 20-30bpms faster, and I built the new track remix around the vocal."
  • Other songs about cheerleaders include ones by:

    Marcy Playground "Death of a Cheerleader" (Based on a true story about a cheerleader who killed herself.)

    St. Vincent "Cheerleader" (Annie Clark rejects the concept of femininity in which she plays dumb or acts clever depending on her perception of what her guy wants. She tells him that she "don't wanna be your cheerleader no more.")

    Aerosmith "Walk This Way" (About a promiscuous cheerleader who walks a schoolboy through his first sexual experience.)

    Lucy Hale "From the Backseat" (About a cheerleader that falls in love with her high school sweetheart.)
  • The original version relies on offbeat guitar rhythms, joined by the saxophone and backing vocals, to conjure a reggae feel. Those are left out of the remix in favor of the piano-driven hooks with percussive bass and synthesized elements for more of a club beat, but components like the prominent solo trumpet and hand claps are retained.
  • OMI was the first artist with a three-character name to reach #1 on the Hot 100 since Dev was featured on Far East Movement's "Like a G6" in late 2010. The previous three-letter lead artist to top the chart was D4L in 2005 with "Laffy Taffy."

    The shortest name to reach the summit of the Hot 100 was M (aka British musician Robin Scott), whose "Pop Muzik" climbed to the peak position in 1979.
  • Who is OMI's biggest cheerleader? He says it's his mom.
  • The song evolved from a melody that came to OMI back in 2007. "I woke up humming the melody one morning when I was 21," he told Billboard magazine. "It was like a little Jamaican nursery rhyme, like 'one, two, buckle my shoe,' that kind of thing - 'ring game' is what we'd call it. The rest of the song just fell into place like a jigsaw puzzle."
  • This was a #1 UK hit, even though they don't really have cheerleaders there. However, cheerleaders crop up enough in American movies and TV shows that most folks understand what they're about.
  • Most songs end with a chorus or resolve with a vocal outro, but this one takes a different approach, using its last 15 seconds to close with an instrumental break, punctuated by a trumpet lick.
  • Felix Jaehn's remix transformed the song into a worldwide hit. It topped the charts in a number of countries, including Australia, Austria, Belgium (Flanders), Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland. South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, The UK and the US.
  • OMI's name is pronounced "OH-mee." It is the nickname his father used to call him.
  • The remix doesn't let you get too relaxed with the island vibe, as the beats-per-minute are also ratcheted up from 100 to 118 to get listeners getting out of the hammock and onto the dance floor.
  • The title is mentioned six times and is confined to the chorus, but OMI's delivery of the lyric "ne-ed her" mimics his emphasis on "cheer-lead-er," making both the title and the lyrics easier to remember.
  • If that piano hook throughout the song sounds familiar, it's because it has a similar progression to The Who's "Baba O'Riley."

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