Popular music listening activity: “Cheerleader” by OMI


The number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this week is “Cheerleader” by OMI. It’s a pretty straightforward song with the lyrics so go ahead and listen to it with your students. Here’s my breakdown:

Form Letter Time Description
Intro 0:00 – 0:24 Trumpet performs a repetitive melody
over piano chord progression.
Verse A 0:24 – 0:42 “When I need motivation…”
Singer enters accompanied by a conga
drum and continued piano chord progression.
No trumpet.
Pre-chorus B 0:42 – 0:49 “Do you need me?”
Piano accompaniment changes to
arpeggiated chords. More drums enter
toward end of section in preparation of chorus.
Chorus C 0:49 – 1:05 “Oh, I think I’ve found myself a cheerleader…”
Steady synthetic bass and keyboard
underscore the new singable melody.
Verse A 1:05 – 1:23 “She walks like a model…”
Same piano and conga drum as first verse
but more drums added.
Pre-chorus 1:23 – 1:29 Same as before. Adds crescendoing single
trumpet notes to accentuate strong beats.
Chorus C 1:29 – 1:46 Same as before but trumpet continues to
play a counter-melody above singer.
Break D 1:46 – 2:18 Instrumental break continues the
instrumental counter-melody on trumpet
and same accompaniment. A new trumpet
melody enters at the 2:05 mark over the
original piano chord progression.
Bridge E 2:18 – 2:35 “She gives me love and affection…”
Conga, piano chord progression, and new
melody on the trumpet
Chorus C 2:35 – 2:52 Same as before.
Coda 2:52 – 3:09 Similar to intro

There are several fascinating parts of the song to elaborate on if you would like.

  • OMI is Jamaican but the sound of the song has more to do with the producer, who was given the song in 2011. The producer, Felix Jaehn, is German.
  • The song was recorded in 2011, released in May of 2014, and hit number on in the summer of 2015. Weird.

There are multiple ways I have students analyze a song like this. If this is their first time listening critically like this, fill it in on the SMART board or chalk board for them, replaying the sections several times to let them hear what you are pulling apart. Then go back and listen to the whole thing to show them the overall form.

Once students get the hang of it, let them pick their own song to analyze. It’s how they build skills for their own compositions and analysis, by listening to what others have done.


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Popular music listening activity: “Cheerleader” by OMI

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