Reggae’s last presence in the Billboard Hot 100 top 10 dates back to 2014, when Caucasian American band MAGIC! spent six weeks in the number-one spot with their Rude single.
The success of the record perhaps answered questions about Reggae’s relevance in the US market, however, staunch supporters of reggae music were still left a bit unsatisfied, as they were not from Jamaica and no Jamaican recording artiste had ventured into the Billboard Hot 100 top 10 chart since Sean Paul’s Get Busy in 2003. That single held the number-one spot for three weeks.
However, Jamaican recording artiste OMI has ended that drought, as his solid hit single, Cheerleader, entered the Billboard Hot 100 top 10. Originally released in 2012 as a ska record, Cheerleader found it’s way to the mainstream when it was remixed in 2014 by Germany-born Flex Jaehn. Flex brought a pop-infused reggae sound to teh track which immediately increased its appeal. The single currently sits at number seven ahead of several US-based artistes.
Since Flex Jaehn’s modification of the Cheerleader instrumental, which included speeding up the tempo, adding African drums and a saxophone interlude, the record has achieved massive success globally as well as selling large numbers internationally. In the process, it has been climbing several foreign radio charts and being certified gold and platinum in various countries. It has also been play-listed on several radio stations, including the French radio station NRJ, East FM and Swedish radio station SR P3.
Omi’s current success aside, no Jamaican reggae/dancehall artiste has convincingly broke into the Billboard Hot 100 in recent times, except for collaborations and samples like Post to Be by Omarion, which borrows lines from Chakka Demus and Pliers’Murder She Wrote; 2 On, by Tinashe, which borrows the work of Delano and other Jamaican writers, Kanye West’s Mercy, which samples Super Beagle’s Dust A Sound Boy, as well as the single All Day, also produced and performed by Kanye West, but sampled Dance With Me, performed by Jamaican comedian/artiste Noel Ellis, aka Rosa Rose.
Cheerleader joins an elite club of reggae/dancehall hits that have crossed over to the Hot 100’s top 10 over the years. Johnny Nash’s I Can See Clearly Now, was number one for four weeks in 1972 Eric Clapton version of Bob Marley’s I Shot the Sheriff, enjoyed the number-one spot for a week in 1974; Inner Circle’s Bad Boys climbed to number eight in 1993; while on the dancehall side of things, It Wasn’t Me and Angel by Shaggy, both charted at number one in 2001 as well as Sean Paul’sGet Busy, which sat in the number-one spot for three weeks in 2003.
Cheerleader has been atop the Reggae Digital Songs chart for 12 consecutive weeks and has sold more than 641,000 downloads to date, with more than half of its release-to-date totals scanned in just the last three weeks. Cheerleader also led the official UK Singles Chart for four weeks.
Omi is known to dabble in several Jamaican genres, including Ska, Mento, Dancehall and Reggae.