Crazy Rich Asians soundtrack: Mandarin version of Coldplay’s Yellow tops music charts … but it was almost cut from the film
Katherine Ho’s version of the song Yellow is No. 1 on the Spotify Viral 50 Global chart. The song was almost cut from the film because the word ‘yellow’ is considered derogatory towards Asians
Many people who watched Crazy Rich Asians would have left the cinema with some deeply embedded earworms. The film’s soundtrack features well-known Mandarin numbers by Ge Lan (Grace Chang) from the 1950s and 1960s and American pop classics including Sally Yeh's 1980 Cantonese version of Madonna’s Material Girl.
But it’s the song Yellow, a cover of the 2000 hit by British band Coldplay, which accompanies the final scenes of the film (track 12 on the official Crazy Rich Asians soundtrack) that is striking a chord with global audiences.
It’s been less than a month since the film opened in Hong Kong, yet the Mandarin cover of Yellow, recorded by Katherine Ho, a Chinese-American YouTuber who appeared in season 10 of the US TV show The Voice, has reached No. 1 on the Spotify Viral 50 Global and Hong Kong charts.
The 19-year-old’s single is also No. 1 on the Spotify Viral 50 chart in the USA, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Spotify rankings are based on how often a tune is streamed and shared.
“Getting to sing one of my all-time favourite songs in Mandarin is a sort of musical marriage of two worlds that have shaped my identity, which is why I am especially excited for you guys to hear this song,” Ho shared on Instagram.
But the song almost didn’t make the cut.
According to media reports, Warner Bros. didn’t want the song included in the soundtrack because the studio giant was concerned about the title, a word considered derogatory against Asians. This was, after all, the first US studio film with an all-Asian cast in 25 years.
The film’s director Jon Chu had different plans. He wanted the song, and wrote a heartfelt email to Coldplay members Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland and Will Champion outlining what the song meant to him.
View this post on Instagram
Ahhh guys I am SO excited that the Crazy Rich Asians soundtrack is finally out on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube (link in my bio!) My song is Track 12, a Mandarin version of Coldplay’s “Yellow”. But honestly, go listen to the whole album; it’s SO good!! The song that I recorded, “流星” by 郑钧 (Zheng Jun), is a Mandarin version of Coldplay’s “Yellow”, and this particular version is based on the beautiful cover sung by 李文琦 (Li Wenqi) on The Voice of China. “Yellow” was my first favorite song ever; I remember that my brother first introduced me to it when I was maybe 8 years old. Getting to sing one of my all-time favorite songs in Mandarin is a sort of musical marriage of two worlds that have shaped my identity, which is why I am especially excited for you guys to hear this song. The Mandarin version is not a direct translation from the English one, but the lyrics are beautiful nonetheless. To me, they tell a story of being scared to take a risk on someone or something, but eventually taking that leap of faith and watching love win in the end. I think that the lyrics are fitting for the movie and the circumstances surrounding the movie’s making. Being one of the only Hollywood productions in decades to feature an all-Asian cast, I can imagine that there was plenty of risk and uncertainty during the movie-making process. But despite it all, I truly believe that this film is groundbreaking, not only for it’s significance regarding representation but also because it’s just an amazing film that will get you laughing, crying, thinking, and feeling. Plus the cast is literally phenomenal!! Please, please, PLEASE go see the film this Wednesday, August 15th, directed by @jonmchu and based on the bestseller by @kevinkwanbooks!! In the meantime, enjoy this lil clip! #crazyrichasians #soundtrack
A post shared by Katherine Ho (@katho.de) on Aug 11, 2018 at 3:51pm PDT
“[The word yellow] has always had a negative connotation in my life … until I heard your song,” Chu’s letter reads.
“I remember seeing the music video in college for the first time on [MTV's] TRL [show]. That one shot with the sun rising was breathtaking for both my filmmaker and music-loving side.
“It immediately became an anthem for me and my friends, and gave us a new sense of pride we never felt before.”
It continued: “For the first time in my life, it described the colour in the most beautiful, magical ways.
“The colour of the stars, her skin, the love. It was an incredible image of attraction and aspiration that it made me rethink my own self image.
“[It would give] a whole generation of Asian-Americans, and others, the same sense of pride I got when I heard your song.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the band replied to Chu’s email within an hour, approving his request.
“We’re going to own that term,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “If we’re going to be called yellow, we’re going to make it beautiful.”