Meet the voice behind ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ rendition of ‘Yellow’

China 24

The movie “Crazy Rich Asians” continued its dominance at the box office over Labor Day weekend. It was only the number one movie for the third week in a row, and surpassed $100 million. A lot of work went into creating this groundbreaking movie, including very specific music choices.

CGTN’s May Lee has the story of how a hit Coldplay song broke down color barriers and changed the life of one young singer.

It’s all semester has begun at the University of Southern California, but sophomore pre-med student Katherine Ho has already made the grade in one of the biggest movies of the year, “Crazy Rich Asians”.

It all started when Ho, a first-generation Chinese-American, was asked by renowned music arranger and producer Ben Bram to audition for an unknown project. She had to record a Mandarin version of Coldplay’s hit song “Yellow” and do it in just one day. So she got on the phone with her father who helped fine-tune her interpretation.

“I actually practiced a little bit more and then I was like so exhausted from school so I fell asleep on the piano,” Ho said. “I woke up the next morning, super disoriented and it was like 6 or 7 am and I was like ‘crap I gotta record this before class’ and then I practiced a few more hours and then sent it in and was like I’m done.”

Just a few days later, Katherine got the job. However, she didn’t know the project was “Crazy Rich Asians” until the day she recorded in the studio, punctuated by a visit from director Jon M. Chu. It’s no surprise that he made the trip. The song plays a crucial and emotional role in the film, and to Chu himself.

Initially, Coldplay rejected the request to use the song for the movie. Chu made a personal plea in a heartfelt letter. In it, he shared the pain he felt as a young Asian American with the term “yellow”.

Chu wrote, “It’s always had a negative connotation in my life. 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.”

Chu goes on to say, “It immediately became an anthem for me and my friends and gave us a new sense of pride we never felt before…We could reclaim the color for ourselves and it has stuck with me for the majority of my life.”

 “I never actually thought about yellow as an actual beautiful adjective until after I read Jon’s letter so definitely never been prouder to be Asian American,” Ho said. “I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s all because of this film that like I feel this way.”

As do so many Asians who have found inspiration and a sense of identity in “Crazy Rich Asians”.