In a frenzy of creativity after hearing Barack Obama’s speech in New Hampshire, Will.I.Am made a YouTube video called “Yes We Can” with friends like Scarlett Johansson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; the clip went on to get over ten million hits, and turned Will.I.Am into a kind of spokesperson for the YouTube age. Yesterday he took part in a Huffington Post panel about new versus old media where he and Washington Post publisher Katherine Weymouth got into some lively battles over whether old media is dead. Weymouth emphasized the resources needed to keep quality journalism alive; Will.I.Am compared Web media to a horse, then jumped up and pretended to mount one.
But perhaps the biggest surprise came when we asked Will.I.Am if he’d write a song for other big figures in the election. Michelle Obama? Of course. “I’d call it ‘Go On Girl,’ or ‘Strong Lady,’” he said. And what about John McCain? “If he inspired me, yes.” Well, does he? Will.I.Am thought for a second, then nodded. “The POW thing is very inspirational,” he said, getting more assured of his decision as he spoke. “I’m not saying that John McCain isn’t inspiring, with the things that he’s overcome and done. And, you know what, I would like to overcome that kind of stuff. That’s beyond inspirational. That’s triumph. He is an inspiring guy.” But for now, at least, he says he’s got to stick to one muse. “We’re lucky to have two inspiring people running for president, but I side with Obama to be the inspiring person to lead the nation.”