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Story of Song

It all started 7 years ago for OMI, an unknown Jamaican artist who woke up in the morning with a melody in his head. When interviewed on the web exclusive “How I Wrote the Song,” OMI told the story behind “Cheerleader” before going live on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

OMI explains: “About seven years ago I was developing my catalogue at an underground studio. I was in a taxi heading to the studio and I had the melody in my head early that morning, I was working out the melody in my head and it was so catchy you know… and I was thinking. I used to love to write from a metaphoric standpoint, that was like… my thing you know!…  so that’s how I came up with the metaphor “Cheerleader” to mean the support system.. So I had enough to go on, by the time I got to the studio the concept was already there, and it was just for the lyrical composition. But I had an idea, I didn’t want to put a beat underneath the song, the idea was for it is to be an interlude to what would be an album, eventually.  So I finished writing the lyrics , it was only 2 verses because it was supposed to be sharp I had the idea to use vocals to actually create like a beat box technique, that’s how that really came about. If you listen to the original you can still hear there’s not a live base playing in there, that’s actually a beat box technique. We recorded it, it was nice, it sounded really creative and I was pretty excited about it”.

Success was yet to come for OMI, though his manager knew there was more potential to this song and that it could become a hit. OMI said:”When I met my manager Clifton “Specialist” Dillon he said to me that this is a really interesting concept, this is like a hit song, you know, but I think we need to put a beat underneath it and I was like ‘okay, you’re the boss, so let’s do that.’ We linked up with Sly Dunbar from the popular duo Sly & Robbie and “Dean Fraser” played horns on it and Sly played drums, you know! He was just like a mad scientist in the studio and I watched him

work. We put it together and he said “You need to do a third verse” I was like… ok, I like the direction where this is going, so I wrote the third verse, we put it together, he had it mixed, mastered and it was out. It had such a huge impact back in 2012 when it was originally released in Jamaica, Hawaii, Dubai… it was doing pretty well. But we knew it had the potential to do a lot more, and so when I signed Ultra back in 2013, the 28th of November–I remember the date and everything–they told me that they really love the song and they were on board with the project. Felix Jaehn was also with Ultra, so they had him do a remix, also a Ricky Blaze version, and both were sent to us. I really love the Ricky Blaze remix but Felix Jaehn took it from a whole different angle… you know! And he kept true to the essence of the song and that’s one of the things that i always respect about him. It was released, and I heard it started doing very well. In Sweden it started going 3 times platinum, 4 times platinum, 5 times. And I’m like wow this is amazing, took off in Europe spread to other European countries, also platinum certified in the UK, Germany and Italy just to name a few, and eventually here in the US it’s like taking it from a whole different angle, and that’s how this song came about and that’s how I got to this point”.

When OMI was asked who his biggest cheerleader is, he said it’s hi smom.

Release date

Original release was in 2012.

Felix Jaehn remix was released May 19, 2014


Omar Samuel Pasley (OMI) – Clifton Dillon – Mark Bradford – Ryan Dillon


Oufah – Ultra – Columbia

Chart Rankings

US – 1

UK – 1


“Cheerleader” reached number 1 in 20 countries ( Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Scotland, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and US). This 5 platinum hit achieved the biggest success for OMI when DJ Felix Jaehn did a remix and it was released again in 2014. The British music mogul Simon Cowell who owns Syco Music label signed a deal to promote and distribute the song throughout England.


Artist’s age on release date

OMI was 26 years of age when he first released “Cheerleader” in 2012, and 27 years of age when Felix Jaehn remix was released.

Cover Versions

Pentatonix and other less famous artists such as 96OneDream and Tianna.

Added by Slate

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