Divine Ikubor, known professionally as Rema, a Nigerian emerging artist in the Afrobeats scene, has managed to captivate global audiences and redefine the genre with his unique sound.
One of his standout tracks, “Calm Down”, featuring Selena Gomez, has dominated the charts, spending an astonishing 41 weeks on Billboard’s U.S. Afrobeats Songs chart and still going strong.
The Afrobeat collaboration, “Calm Down,” has not only become a global sensation but also holds the record for the highest-charting hit from an Afrobeat lead artist in Billboard Hot 100 history.
The song’s allure lies in its enticing and ambient composition, where Rema pleads with a young woman at a local club to trust his pure intentions.
What sets this Afrobeat song apart and contributes to its global success?
While many songs experience a surge in popularity driven by cultural moments, they often fade away once the moment passes. However, according to Kyle Denis of Billboard, “Calm Down” continues to grow in popularity because it is not tied to a specific cultural moment like other Afrobeat hits.
For instance, Burna Boy’s “Last Last” was associated with the summer of 2021, and Wizkid & Tems’ “Essence” with the summer before that.
In contrast, “Calm Down” continues to capture new audiences worldwide, thanks to Rema’s rising global profile. Selena Gomez’s remix of the song arrived at just the right time to breathe new life into it and expand its reach.
When the song made its debut on Billboard’s U.S. Afrobeats Songs chart, two months after its initial release, Rema made a shrewd move by enlisting Selena Gomez to elevate it to the next level.
Selena’s remix injected fresh energy into “Calm Down,” ultimately enabling it to enter the prestigious Hot 100 chart. Heran Mamo of Billboard suggests that by bringing a familiar voice into Rema’s fresh Afro-rave sound, the song has enjoyed sustained success.
Additionally, having a female voice and perspective on a love song like “Calm Down” adds a refreshing dimension to the track. Selena’s involvement in the song highlights her enduring popularity and ability to attract attention, even after taking breaks from music.
While “Calm Down” initially gained traction through streaming platforms rather than traditional radio airplay, its popularity on the radio cannot be overlooked. Andrew Unterber asserts that radio plays a crucial role in sustaining the song’s chart life, especially during periods with relatively few major releases.
As new audiences continue to discover “Calm Down” daily, the song remains relevant and in demand. Selena’s contribution to the song’s global visibility has also made it more appealing to Top 40 radio programmers.
It’s worth noting that Selena Gomez holds the distinction of being the most-followed woman on Instagram, boasting an impressive 421 million followers, and her longstanding presence in the music industry adds to her appeal.
Remarkably, despite Selena Gomez’s involvement, Rema ensured that she did not overshadow the original track. He carefully maintained the integrity of the song’s musical qualities, ensuring that Selena’s contributions complement rather than detract from the original version.
This collaborative effort demonstrates Rema’s commitment to preserving the essence of the track.
Interestingly, while artists like Burna Boy and Wizkid have been influential in the Afrobeats movement, they have yet to produce a hit of the same magnitude as “Calm Down.”
It is truly remarkable that a young artist like Rema, born in 2000, has achieved such monumental success with one of the biggest Afrobeats crossovers hits on his debut album.
Rema and Selena Gomez’s collaboration on “Calm Down” has taken the world by storm, captivating audiences globally with its unique blend of Afrobeats and infectious melodies.
The song’s longevity and sustained success can be attributed to its ability to transcend cultural moments, Selena’s significant contribution, and Rema’s rising global profile. As the Afrobeats genre continues to flourish, “Calm Down” stands as a testament to its immense potential to captivate and resonate with diverse audiences worldwide.
Words By: Daniel Nzohabonimana