Coldplay Didn't Want Their Song to Play in Crazy Rich Asians
By December Savage-Brown
August 26, 2018
There's something special and nostalgic about snail mail that can instantly warm your heart. Not many will take the time today to sit down, grab a pen and paper and jot out their thoughts for another to read, but that's exactly what Jon M. Chu did. Chu, director of Crazy Rich Asians, was initially turned down when asking to license Coldplay's song Yellow. Both the record label, Warner Bros., and the group were hesitant about the term "yellow" due to it holding a racist connotation against Asian and Asain-American people. To avoid any future backlash and accusations of cultural appropriation, Chu was initially unable to use the song to close out his film.
Vulture reports that Warner Bros. did eventually come around to agreeing after hearing Chu's argument that his use of the song would be a sort of reclaiming.
“I told them, ‘Well, a white director couldn’t do it’.”
As far as Coldplay was concerned, that took a bit more effort. Chu penned a letter to the group that was so moving it resulted in a change of heart within 24 hours.
Although it may have been fine untouched, Chu decided on issuing a Mandarin cover of the song, performed by Chinese-American singer Katherine Ho. The cover was to be used to close out the film at a most pivotal moment. He stated that the new version would give it more power.
Read a portion of the letter obtained by The Hollywood Reporter below:
"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. I know as an artist it’s always difficult to decide when it’s okay to attach your art to someone else’s, and I am sure in most instances you’re inclined to say no. However, I do believe this project is special. I do believe this is a unique situation in which the first Hollywood studio film, with an All-Asian cast is not playing stereotypes or side-players, but romantic and comedic leads. It will give a whole generation of Asian-Americans, and others, the same sense of pride I got when I heard your song."
Chu closes out the letter stating how important the song has been to him in his life.
“I want all of them to have an anthem that makes them feel as beautiful as your words and melody made me feel,” he concluded to Coldplay, “when I needed it most.”
Listen to a cover of the song "Yellow" below.