By Thomas Kaplan
DENVER, 2:23 p.m. — This winter, the musical artist known as will.i.am was feeling blue. His single album had flopped. He had a falling out with his manager.
Then came the song that changed it all.
Six months after the Black Eyed Peas frontman gave the campaign of Senator Barack Obama a shot in the arm with his widely-circulated music video adapted from one of the presumptive Democratic nominee’s speeches, will.i.am reminisced Monday about how it all began.
Heading into the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 8, the 33-year-old said he was genuinely undecided between Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton LAW ’73. Then he watched Obama’s concession speech, delivered to a raucous crowd in Nashua.
“It was inspiration,” he told a crowd of reporters and young Democrats gathered for an event about youth involvement in the presidential race. “I was like, ‘Wow, this man can inspire me when he lost. How is he going to inspire me when he wins?’”
So will.i.am immediately headed downstairs to his studio. He watched it again on YouTube. Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe was personally lobbying him to throw his support behind Clinton, but will.i.am had made up his mind.
“A whole bunch of people were trying to pull me in, right?” he said. “The speech was what pulled me in.”
And to him, it had potential beyond just being a speech. “I started listening to the speech, but this time differently – like as if it were a song,” will.i.am said. “What if I were to turn the speech into a song?”
So he did. Comprised entirely from quotations of Obama’s concession speech in the Granite State, it hit YouTube less than a month later.
An Emmy award and 21 million views later, will.i.am is not so glum anymore.