If the name “Margaret” conjures up an image of an old lady who lives with two cats and spends her days knitting, be prepared to be shocked and thoroughly entertained. Polish singer-songwriter Margaret has just internationally released her explosive single, “Cool Me Down,” which won second place in the Polish qualifying round of the Eurovision Song Contest 2016. Placing in a Eurovision contest doesn’t typically matter much in terms of commercial prowess-the last successful Eurovision winner who actually made a name for herself was Celine Dion… in 1988. However, this song is a monster hit waiting to happen.
“Cool Me Down” is the complex, hit-worthy single you may have expected from Rihanna herself had her latest record, Anti, been less of a foray into the avant garde. However, that’s not quite fair. “Cool Me Down” just might be on par with many of Rihanna’s hit singles and other hits of 2015-2016, and should be absolutely worthy of your attention. The track was produced by Alex P who has worked with artists like JLo and Nicki Minaj under the producer RedOne’s tutelage. “Cool Me Down” cleverly combines production elements of songs you may already love in a way that’s totally unique. So just like we did with “Roses,” let’s break it down. This is why you will love “Cool Me Down.”
Reason # 1 : The unique inflections of artists like Rihanna, Bibi Rexha, Nicki Minaj, and MO.
Look no further than Bebe Rexha and her recent hit with G Eazy, “Me, Myself & I,” for an example of how infectious vocal inflections can make a song unforgettable. Take a look at the way Bebe sings words like “right,” “life,” “hold,” and “cold” in the video below.
In “Cool Me Down,” listen to the way Margaret pronounces words like “fire,” “over,” and “goddess” in the first minute. These bright, tight vowel sounds hook into our ears because they’re pronounced differently than we’re used to. They’re the type of vocals that might seem odd, maybe even annoying at first, but tend to lend to memorable hooks that don’t let go.
Reason #2 – A big, brassy chorus – with real brass instruments.
The brass band behind the chorus of “Cool me down” harkens back to the days when brass musicians played big fanfares to introduce members of the royal class to the public. When the King or Queen made any sort of major announcement, it was expected that a fanfare would precede their speech. Pop music has taken note of the effect that such a musical statement has on listeners, and has absorbed this technique. Check out Demi Lovato’s “Confident” for the use of brass as fanfare. Then listen to the chorus of “Cool Me Down.” It might feel larger than life or royal; the brass grabs your attention and forces you to listen.
Reason #3 – The big drop… or not.
So remember when I took a look at “Roses” and claimed that the drop was similar to Justin Bieber’s “Sorry?” (If not, check it out here). Take a look at the percussive tension in “Sorry” as it builds up in the snare between 1:06 and 1:11. Then note the big drop.
Here’s that same exact sound in “Cool Me Down” (time stamp: 0:57 seconds):
In “Sorry” the drop is an ecstasy-filled electronic bonanza. When that drop happens after a huge buildup, you’re anticipation pays off; you’re expecting something big to happen and that’s exactly what you get. Margaret does something totally different to your mainstream ears with a fake-out. On the line “do-do-do-down,” instead of inundating the song with lush electronics, the production takes on a minimal turn, composed of only 3 instrumental voices: the vocal, a percussive kick to emphasize the text, and a bouncing melody in the background. The first time you hear it, don’t be surprised if you’re totally weirded out. Trust me, this is one of those elements that will perplex you, but is one of the reasons this song works so well.
These production elements solidify “Cool Me Down” as the type of tune that could really do well on the charts. Aside from these production elements, “Cool Me Down” is coming out at the perfect time for foreign artists who want to hit the US charts as well. You may have heard Lukas Graham’s “7 Years,” Zara Larsson and MNEK’s “Never Forget You,” or “Stole the Show” by Kygo, all of which are making headway in the United States now. These songs all came out of Europe and first charted in their respective countries (Denmark, Sweden, and Norway) anywhere from six to twelve months before charting in the US. “Cool Me Down” will likely join this group, if Warner (who is releasing the single in the US) can get together a solid marketing plan for this country. The song by itself is a smash, and as long as Warner can properly target it to an American audience, it might be one of the easiest hits to promote that the company has worked with in a long time. I’d generously give “Cool Me Down” a three- to sixth-month gestation period before it smashes the US charts, but when it does it’s going to be stuck in your head for quite some time.