Will.i.am Takes Over Louvre with New Video for ‘Mona Lisa Smile’

He describes the museum as "a collection of inspiration."

will.i.am.Photo: via DailyMotion.
Photo: via DailyMotion.

Musician will.i.am visits one of the world’s greatest museums in his new video for the 2013 single Mona Lisa Smile. Featuring a virtual visit to the Louvre, the video casts singer-songwriter Nicole Scherzinger in the role of the 16th-century woman with the mysterious smile painted by Leonardo da Vinci.

“Let me tell you about my girlfriend—my girlfriend Mona Lisa,” says the former Black-Eyed Peas frontman in the opening moments of the video, where he appears as a figure in a painting, wearing a ruff collar and writing with a quill pen. He explains to the listener that his girlfriend wants to be a fashionista, a model, and “rock the runways in Milano.” He’s jealous, he says, and wants to trust her, but all the other guys are looking at her—those other guys show up in the guise of other paintings, eyeing Mona Lisa.

Thus is explained that mysterious smile.

Nicole Scherzinger in will.i.am's new video.<br>Photo: via DailyMotion.

Nicole Scherzinger in will.i.am’s new video.
Photo: via DailyMotion.

The singer, meanwhile, makes a tour of art history, appearing in masterpieces like Johannes Vermeer’s The Astronomer, a Rembrandt self-portrait, and Jacques-Louis David’s Bonaparte Crossing the Alps.

The video recalls works by Kehinde Wiley, who replaces the figures in classic icons of art history. It also parallels art-related lyrics by rapper Jay Z, who, in Picasso Baby, declares, “see me throning at the Met,” compares his house to the Louvre, and says he’s “sleeping every night next to Mona Lisa.”

Will.i.am’s approach is a little more modest, however, emphasizing the muse rather than his own prowess.

“The whole idea of a museum is a collection of inspiration,” says the musician in a video about the Louvre’s vast holdings. “If you inspire me to do something, you would be my muse. If you made me laugh, you would be a-muse-ing. If I spread an inspiration, and it became an epidemic, it would be music.”

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