The Inclusion of Coldplay's "Yellow" in Crazy Rich Asians Is More Significant Than You Realize
If you've seen Crazy Rich Asians, then chances are you've fallen just as hard in love with the film's soundtrack as Nick falls for Rachel. From a truly stunning cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love" to an upbeat love song from Miguel, the music featured deserves to be at the top of all your playlists. That's why you might be surprised to discover that the song in the rom-com's final, beautiful moments almost didn't make the cut.
At the end of the film, emotions are running high as Rachel (Constance Wu) considers her departure from Singapore, as her estranged boyfriend, Nick (Henry Golding), struggles with his relationship with his demanding mother, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh). There's also the matter of Astrid (Gemma Chan) and her own romantic woes (which luckily get a lift in the adorable midcredits scene). Director John M. Chu had the perfect song in mind to capture all of these themes from the very beginning: Coldplay's "Yellow." The only problem? Neither Warner Bros. or Coldplay wanted the song in the film.
Since the word "yellow" has racist connotations for Asian and Asian-American people, the studio was reluctant to include the song in Crazy Rich Asians, no matter how thematically perfect. Coldplay apparently had similar reservations, especially since the band has dealt with cultural appropriation accusations in the past. But Chu knew he had to have Coldplay's 2000 hit play over his big finale, for exactly that reason. "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 . . . We tried so many other songs, but everything was about the love story and not about the bigger context of who we are."
Warner Bros. eventually saw how important the song was to Chu's vision for the film — "I told them, 'Well, a white director couldn't do it'" — but it wasn't until the director sent a personal letter to Coldplay bandmates Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, and Will Champion that "Yellow" was finally allowed into the movie. Chu shared the letter with THR, an excerpt of which you can read below:
"I know it's a bit strange, but my whole life I've had a complicated relationship with the color yellow . . . That is, until I heard your song. For the first time in my life, it described the color in the most beautiful magical ways I had ever heard . . . I remember seeing the music video in college for the first time on [MTV's] TRL. That oner 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 would be such an honor to use your song that gave me so much strength throughout the years, to underscore this final part of our film. And for me personally, it would complete a journey that I've been going through, fighting to make it in the movie business."
Within 24 hours of sending his letter, the band approved his musical request and he set about commissioning a Chinese-language cover. The tune ended up landing in the hands (er, vocal cords) of Katherine Ho, a freshman at USC who competed on season 10 of The Voice. She sang the Mandarin version, called "Liu Xing," popularized by Beijing singer Li Wenqi, resulting in a memorable, romantic final scene for the film that's far more significant than most audiences might have initially realized.
As long as your tear ducts are ready to do some work, listen to the gorgeous cover in question ahead.