Following the commercial failures of their previous albums and singles, there was doubt over whether The Black Eyed Peas would continue to record together. A&R executive Ron Fair approached them and suggested a crossover to a more mainstream pop sound. will.i.am in particular resisted the idea for fear that they would be seen as sellouts. However, after discussions and some writing sessions, the idea was pursued.
Shortly after Christmas 2001, will.i.am created a loop and a guitar part that he liked. apl.de.ap and Taboo also heard the track and were able to write similar lyrics over it. Justin Timberlake was introduced to the group by Taboo, and got a chance to hear the track that will.i.am created. Impressed with the music, Timberlake helped write and sing the chorus.
Timberlake was in the midst of promotion of his debut solo album, Justified, and his label Jive Records was concerned about possible overexposure. The Black Eyed Peas were worried about this, as getting some assistance from an established pop star like Timberlake had been the original point of this song. A compromise was reached eventually in which Jive gave clearance for the vocals of Timberlake to be released on the song, but he does not appear in the song's music video nor is he officially credited on the song as an artist. By 2008, the single had sold 954,000 digital copies.
The song was the biggest selling single of 2003 in the UK. It was also the 25th best-selling single of the 2000s (decade) in the UK.
On May 12, 2013, after 10 years since the song's release, the song re-entered the official UK singles charts at 40, eventually peaking at 35.
The music video for "Where Is the Love?" was shot in East Los Angeles and features The Black Eyed Peas and various other people, including various young children, asking the world where the love really is. In the video, will.i.am and Taboo act as a soul music road duo who use music to tell people what is wrong with the world, Fergie appears as a peacemaker who places stickers with question marks on them all over the place to ask people where the love is in the world, and apl.de.ap is a criminal who is arrested for using criminal offences to tell people the truth. Justin Timberlake does not appear in the video, although several different people are seen mouthing his part.
The video is similar to a 2002 British television advertisement for T-Mobile, in which a face of a young baby is presented in various forms around a large city, much like the question mark in this video. The Bon Jovi music video "Have a Nice Day" is also similar to both the advertisement and this video.
The video features gameplay footage of the extremely graphic and controversial video game Postal 2, in which a group of young children are playing the game. This suggests that violence in the media and entertainment industry affects the morals of children. Near the beginning of the video, posters of the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City are shown.
Inspired by tragedies, like the attacks in Paris, and in Brussels and Orlando, and police shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, the Peas saw the relevance of the song and decided it was time to revive the track for a new generation. Family members affected by gun violence including (Alton Sterling's aunt Sandra, Philando Castile's mother Valerie) and police officials (Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown, Officer Miguel Salcedo) and more appear in the video.
Written by will.i.am, apl.de.ap, Taboo, Justin Timberlake, The Game, ASAP Rocky, DJ Khaled and Giorgio Tuinfort
Piano by Giorgio Tuinfort
First Violin by Ben Mathot, Inger van Vliet, Marleen Wester, Tseroeja van den Bos and Sofie van der Pol
Second Violin by Judith van Driel, Loes Dooren, Diewertje Wanders and Azra Dizdar
Alt Violin by Ian de Jong, Yanna Pelser, Bas Goossens
Cello by David Faber and Jascha Bordon
Bass by Hinse Mutter
Horns by Jenneke de Jonge
Trumpet by Printz Board
Orchestra Midi Programming by Franck van der Heijden
Orchestra Arrangement by Franck van der Heijden and Giorgio Tuinfort
Orchestra recorded and mixed by Paul Power
Vocals recorded by will.i.am and padraic kerin
Main and additional vocals by The Black Eyed Peas, Justin Timberlake, Jamie Foxx, Ty Dolla $ign, Mary J. Blige, Diddy, Cassie, Andra Day, The Game, Tori Kelly, V. Bozeman, Jessie J, French Montana, DJ Khaled, Usher, Nicole Scherzinger, ASAP Rocky, Jaden Smith and a 40-member children's choir.
The Black Eyed Peas also released a bilingual Spanish/English version of "Where's the Love?", titled "Dónde Está El Amor?" crediting The Black Eyed Peas featuring El Mundo. The version was premiered on November 7, 2016, during Premios de la Radio. The music video premiered days later, featuring a roster of Latin stars including Gerardo Ortiz, Milkman, Pepe Aguilar, Becky G, Fey, Paulina Rubio, Luis Coronel and many others.