Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ is arguably one of the group’s finest moments, serving as not only their breakthrough hit, but also one of the most memorable songs of the early ’00s. However, the group were recently forced to rethink the song’s usage in an upcoming film after becoming concerned about the track’s possible racist connotations.
If you haven’t been paying attention to the current movie box office releases, then you might not be aware of Crazy Rich Asians, the cinematic adaptation of of Kevin Kwan’s 2013 book, which is set to be released in Australia shortly.
The film has already been released overseas, and is already bringing in rave reviews, with viewers praising the its comedy, acting, and diverse cast. However, the movie’s closing scene apparently took a little bit of work to get right.
As Quartzy reports, Crazy Rich Asians closes with a Mandarin-language performance of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’, delivered by former The Voice contestant Katherine Ho. While all accounts indicate the presence of the song in the film almost seems like a perfect fit, it seems the band took a little bit of convincing.
As director Jon M. Chu explains, Coldplay had a little bit of trouble getting on board with the track’s inclusion in the movie, due to their unwillingness to be associated with the racial slur ‘yellow’.
“They were like, ‘Whoa, we can’t do that, what do you think people will say?’,” explained Chu. “And I told them, ‘Well, a white director couldn’t do it.’”
While Chu noted that Warner Bros. Pictures sided with him on his musical choice, he explained that he had to write Coldplay a letter in order to sell them on the concept.
“For the first time in my life, it described the color in the most beautiful, magical ways,” Chu wrote in his letter. “The color 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.”
Chu explained that by using the song in the movie, he felt that it would provide “a whole generation of Asian-Americans, and others, the same sense of pride I got when I heard your song.”
In Coldplay’s defence though, they’ve previously been accused of racism on a couple of occasions, so it’s easy to see why they might have baulked at the initial idea.
As Quartzy points out, Coldplay were first accused of racism over the video for 2012’s ‘Princess Of China’, which saw guest artist Rihanna dressed in “gangsta goth geisha” attire, while 2016’s ‘Hymn For The Weekend’ saw the band cop heat for filming their video during the Indian festival of Holi, and for the culturally-insensitive clothing that Beyoncé wore throughout.
Needless to say, while the band might have been nervous to let their song be used, most reviews of the movie are tending to agree they made the right choice, with Katherine Ho’s cover being deemed a highlight of the entire film.