Posted by: mallory527 | January 25, 2009

YouTube Review: Yes, We Can


            This music video “Yes, We Can” was released and made popular during the presidential race of 2008.  The music video is done in all black and white and features several vocalists such as John Legend, Common, and, as well as actors such as Scarlett Johansson and Nick Cannon.  The music video is simple in comparison to others of different genres, however, it speaks volumes.  As we all know this presidential race was very significant for many reasons and was vitally important with concerns to the US’s future.  The lyrics of the song were taken from our now President Obama’s speech and were transformed into something even more soulful, inspiring, and convincing. 

            The video begins with standing alone in silence, only to begin reciting Obama’s “Yes, We Can” speech  in sync with a recording.  A visual of Obama delivering this speech appears on the right side of the screen as continues to recite it.  As the speech continues, Obama’s image moves to the center of the screen with two different celebrities reciting on either side of him.  The words “Yes, We Can” appear in bold white letters as the song continues, pointing out the significance of the phrase.  As mentioned, the video plays for its entire length in black and white, only to reach the end where the word “Vote” is colored in red, obviously indicating its importance.

            What works about this video is that the performers all seem sincere as they recite the speech, as captured in their gestures and facial expressions; this further convinces the audience to listen to what the words are saying and what they actually mean. Placing only a little bit of text into the video works because instead of reading you listen fully to the lyrics.  Placing “Yes, We Can,” “Hope,” and “Vote” in bold lettering during the song only add to the importance of listening to the lyrics because they all tie into the what Obama is saying in his speech. Also, the slight changes in the screen, meaning when images are slid in and out, is good because they did change what the viewer was seeing but they weren’t distracting from the lyrics.

            I liked the color scheme of the video as well as the lighting that was used because it allowed for just enough shadow and illumination of the performers’ faces.  Anything brighter would take away from the ambiance and feeling of the music video, leading to distraction from the lyrics.  I also did like the fact that the word “Vote” was the only thing that had color in the clip because it shows the significance of the word and the importance of it.  Choosing the color red was also a good idea because it supports the importance of the word and really communicates it to the viewer.  

            When it comes to the aesthetics of this video, I don’t think I would change anything.  The grayscale coloring of the performers and the black backdrop behind them simply influences the viewer to listen to the lyrics.  If there was more color, or a brighter backdrop I feel like the meaningfulness of the lyrics would be lost due to the fact that the viewer would be distracted. Although a music video was created for this song, I think the main purpose of it is to get people to listen, which is why the video is not ‘over the top’.  Overall, the clip masterfully accomplished what it set out to do, in my opinion, which was for viewers to listen and understand what Obama had to say about change and what we can do as a country.



  1. I also enjoyed the use of color, the deliberately limited palette, and sparse text for emphasis. I think the choice of the only exception to the black and white presentation, red, connotes power, helping to reinforce the significance of the word ‘vote’. I also like the use of repetition, including the cloning affect of two identical side-by-side shots of Obama. The contrast of pairing different speakers of varied sexes, races, and even languages with Obama’s original speech, and the rapid succession of different faces fading into the next towards the end helps to convey the universality of the message. I agree with your final critique, that the overall visual effect of the video is accomplished and supports the central idea very well.

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