Musicians and celebrities are some of the most popular subjects on YouTube, and a new video is tapping that star power to mobilize young voters for Barack Obama.
On Saturday, YouTuber user "WeCan08" uploaded "Yes We Can," a music video for a new Obama ballad by the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am and director Jesse Dylan, Bob Dylan's son. The "song" was essentially written by Barack Obama, since the lyrics are adapted from his "Yes We Can" speech after the New Hampshire primary. That speech, of course, was inspired by Cesar Chavez's motto for a United Farm Workers hunger strike in 1972. Excerpts of Obama play throughout the video, with accompaniment from stars like John Legend, Herbie Hancock, Common, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Scarlett Johansson, Tatyana Ali and Nick Cannon. The video was first reported by ABC News, which interviewed the creators.
There's no telling if this video will catch on, but musicians have turned political speeches into popular songs before. The most famous example is Haile Selassie's 1963 address to the UN, which Bob Marley put to music in the song "War."
While the Obama campaign had no role in this video, it has run a sophisticated and effective YouTube strategy. It was the only campaign to record a YouTube address for this week's State of the Union, which has already drawn over 850,000 views and is one of the most popular clips in the world this week. The campaign also promotes a battery of ring tones, which splice one-liners from Obama with riffs of music. Young voters can get the items for free by providing the campaign with their cell phone number -- a life-line for organizing a demographic that is rarely listed in party databases.
The music video is below, followed by a CNN segment picking up on The Nation's prior reporting on Obama's YouTube's records.a