Sarabeth Murray

Maybe one of the most frustratingly catchiest songs ever written, you could argue that Omi took the world by storm last year when he released “Cheerleader”. Undeniably a classic 2015 summer hit, the overly cheerful melody didn’t waste any time invading my thoughts; clearly it was quite the feat of musical genius.

The song itself seems innocent enough at first listen – a casual dude proclaiming his somewhat reluctant yet supposedly genuine dedication to some chick. And, hey, I’ve heard that not really feeling like cheating is about equivalent to love these days. So in relationship terms, I think I hear wedding bells chiming for Omi and his cheerleader. But then at second listen and after much detailed inspection, it becomes clear that, much like the will of the melody to latch itself to your mind and never let go, this supposedly lay-by-the-pool-and-drink-mimosas summer song offers a much more earnest message.

After hours of analysis and research, delving into the deepest chasms of the internet, interviewing sources who prefer to keep their identities private and conducting a variety of top-secret investigations into phone records, emails and Instagram posts of the highest-ranking officials, I can confirm that Omi’s “Cheerleader” is indeed a propagandistic piece of brilliance. Despite his Jamaican roots, I have reason to believe that Omi has a close relationship with the Russian government. In fact, his grandmother’s first employer was the son of a leading ex-KGB agent, who shall not be named here for reasons pertaining to security (perhaps also for reasons of blatant fabrication, but let’s not focus on that). I have picked the most pertinent lyric to expose the song in all of its subliminal-messaging glory:

She is always right there when I need her.

The line suggests the presence of a constant companion; a friend who appears to protect or stand up for another WHENEVER and WHEREVER necessary. But naturally, it’s a political comment. “Cheerleader” is, in all of its reggae glory, an open letter of sorts from the Russian government.

In a world of capitalist expansion, it seems that most countries in the Western hemisphere are turning to democratic systems of government, or at least leaning towards regimes that have been vetted by leading Western countries and determined inactive enough not to need intervention. Maybe it’s just my sinister outlook towards most existing political systems, but Western governments seem to have a mightily overwhelming interest in influencing politics in countries which are unaligned in the East versus West fight (homeboy America, I’m looking at you!). I sound like I’m living in the 1970s, complaining about the Cold War, but look around: the US and Russia continue to play tug-of-war with their military investments and puppet governments.

Regardless of the playground antics that seem to be intrinsic to international politics, “Cheerleader” is an insurance offering, if you will, of Russia’s commitment to protect its Ukrainian brother from Western infiltration. It is by no means a coincidence that the song was released in 2014, closely following the escalated tensions in Ukraine between nationalist and rebel forces. The great and mysterious ‘she’ is mother Russia, fundamentally dedicated to challenging any Western cause in any country.

Now, yes, the notion of Russia looming over Ukraine’s shoulder, breathing down her goose-bump coated neck could come across as a little overbearing, if not ominous as shit. But, quite honestly, I don’t find it overtly manipulative as a policy. The Ukraine did float under Soviet influence for a significant part of its life span, perhaps not willingly, but not necessarily forcibly either. In the grand scheme of things, it is a country which could indeed be a little politically lost, like a teenager having a hormonal identity crisis, and could benefit from the oversight of a big brother figure. Naturally, I am not suggesting that Ukraine should be infiltrated by Russian troops and controlled directly from the Kremlin, with Russian police roaming the streets, but why shouldn’t she have the autonomy to choose her own political path? We can’t really be sure of anything, regarding the Ukrainian crisis, with both sides fine-tuning their ‘truths’ to craft the other into the devil’s advocate.

In this sense, the Russian offer of effective back-up to any country desiring to resist Western pressures is fair enough. Peer pressure shouldn’t be a policy with which governments decide their political alignment and, frankly, isn’t it refreshing that Russia offers an alternative to increasingly dominant Western influence? A world centered around one solidary super power would result in reduced potential for improvement, as there would be no contested challenge to that super power’s ideas; if democracy was an undisputed, globally enforced political system, it would sink into a comfortable slump on the couch in the living room with a box of Krispy Kremes and Netflix to it’s not-so-little but diabetes-hosting hearts content.

The existence of a political alternative, in this case the Russian model, is in itself an achievement, being at least strong enough on its own to offer political alternatives to Western models. Thus Russia’s offer of support to any country experiencing political tumult is justified as long as the countries themselves have the autonomy to decide whether they accept this offering or reject it. In short, she can be there when they need motivation, but should give them a little space sometimes; at least that’s what the relationships column in Cosmopolitan suggests.

So did Ukraine feel like cheating? Yeah, I would say a little bit. Ukraine decidedly played hard to get, which is fair enough in this case. Maybe the Ukraine wasn’t as blinded by Russia’s model-like walk as Omi was. You didn’t get that from the song?