One of the surprise highlights of “Crazy Rich Asians” is the film’s highly evocative soundtrack which fittingly features contemporary Asian performers taking on soulful Chinese big-band jazz classics and some remakes of American pop songs.
With just the right mix of party tunes, such as Cheryl K and Awkwafina’s “Money (That’s What I Want),” and love songs such as “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Kina Grannis, the selection of music for the highly anticipated rom-com is indeed a special treat in itself.
Among the most notable was a Mandarin cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow,” which was the final track played in the movie.
Performed by former “The Voice” contestant Katherine Ho, the haunting rendition was deemed by director Jon M. Chu to be the perfect song to bring the film to its end.
“That crazy blend of identities and cultures that makes up who we are. It felt to me like a critical part of what we were trying to do,” Chu told Quartz.
The filmmaker reportedly had to convince both Warner Bros. and Coldplay that the use of the term “Yellow” in the Chinese version will not be misconstrued.
The studio was initially apprehensive since the song’s title is also a slur against Asian and Asian Americans. Chu had told the execs that he wanted the song specifically because of the negative racist connotations the term “yellow” evokes.
“They were like, ‘Whoa, we can’t do that, what do you think people will say?’ And I told them, ‘Well, a white director couldn’t do it,’” he explained.
After Warner Bros. was eventually convinced, Chu went on to persuade Coldplay, which posed more of a challenge.
Being accused of appropriation was nothing new to the band as it has involved itself in a couple of controversies in the past. In their 2012 song “Princess of China” with Rihanna, the music video featured an assortment of random Asian imagery which many found distasteful.
The band was also criticized for using the Hindu festival of Holi in India as the backdrop for their 2016 “Hymn for the Weekend” song with Beyoncé.
When the band rejected Chu’s request, the director decided to write an impassioned letter to the band.
“For the first time in my life, it described the color in the most beautiful, magical ways,” he recalled writing. “The color of the stars, her skin, the love. It was an incredible image of attraction and aspiration that made me rethink my own self-image.”
Within an hour, Chu received a response from the band giving him the go-ahead to use the song in the film. The rest, as they say, is cinema history.
Other Asian artists featured on the amazing soundtrack include Taiwanese artist Sally Yeh, Chinese singers VAVA, Grace Chang, Jasmine Chen, Yao Lee, and Lilan Chen.