Nicki Sun’s Interview of Katherine Ho – “Yellow” in ‘Crazy Rich Asians’

I admit it, I’m been kind of obsessed with the film ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ since seeing it in a pre-screening in August: I’ve been following tweets on #CrazyRichAsians, reviews on YouTube (and I’m amazed at how many people do reviews on YouTube), and have religiously followed the box office numbers daily.

And I really like the soundtrack, as I mention in my review of the film – so much that I bought the MP3 album off of Amazon and have been listening to the album constantly. My favorite song from the film is the cover of ‘Yellow’ by Katherine Ho.

When I looked for more information about Katherine Ho, Wikipedia said she was on season 10 of The Voice and was a 19-year-old sophomore at USC, but she didn’t seem to be very active on her social media channels (YouTube | Instagram | Twitter). So I was really excited to read more about her in The Los Angeles Times:

After chemistry class on a recent weekday, sophomore Katherine Ho sat at an outdoor table in USC Village, and shared the chain of events that made the pre-med student’s rendition of Coldplay’s “Yellow” appear during the climactic scene in the box-office topping movie “Crazy Rich Asians.” … A first-generation Chinese American from Woodland Hills, the 19-year-old is a lifelong singer who has performed on the NBC singing competition show “The Voice.” She is also minoring in songwriting at USC. … Despite the fact that she was starting her second semester as a freshman — and was already overwhelmed with studies — late one night, she got her dad on the phone to perfect the Mandarin lyrics for “Yellow,” working line by line through meanings and inflections.

But I was even more excited to see Katherine Ho being interviewed by Nicki Sun on YouTube (as embedded above). I don’t think I had heard of Sun before, but I think I came across her during my #CrazyRichAsians Twitter search and followed her when she tweeted a link to her interview.

In her 27-minute interview, Sun asks Ho more about her background and how she got to do the cover for “Yellow,” and then she details and translates the Mandarin lyrics of the song. Ho also discusses growing up Chinese American, going to Chinese school and speaking Chinese to her parents and mixing it up with English (like me; my listening is better than my speaking,  but Ho’s Chinese is way better than mine). Ho is pre-med by choice (not being forced by her parents) and minoring in song writing.

As I tweeted to Sun, it’s instances like this that makes me wish I lived in Los Angeles, to get the opportunity to interview artists like Ho!

8Tracks Review: ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Crazy Rich Asians (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
WaterTower Music, 2018

(no movie spoilers)

Look how they shine for you

Almost nobody discusses Crazy Rich Asians (the film) without mentioning the movie’s soundtrack, which is pretty cool, because how often does this happen anymore?  Soundtrack albums used to be huge marketing tools for films, but unless the film is a musical, nowadays you seldom hear people talk about soundtracks.  I suspect the persistent conversation means the soundtrack in CRA is especially effective. Its first few spins took me immediately to specific places they appear in the movie, which may also be a sign of its effectiveness.

I wrote a song for you

  1. Waiting for Your Return (Jasmine Chen) (2:58)
  2. Money (That’s What I Want) (Cheryl K) (3:12)
  3. Wo Yao Ni De Ai (I Want Your Love — I Want You  to Be My Baby) (Grace Chang) (2:41)
  4. My New Swag (VaVa featuring Ty and Nina Wang) (4:05)
  5. Give Me a Kiss (Jasmine Chen) (3:01)
  6. Ren Sheng Jiu Shi Xi (Yao Lee) (3:02)
  7. Ni Dong Bu Dong (Do You Understand) (Lilian Chen) (2:32)
  8. Wo Yao Fei Shang Qing Tian (Grace Chang) (3:17)
  9. Material Girl (200 Du) (4:25)
  10. Can’t Help Falling in Love (Kina Grannis) (3:21)
  11. Wo Yao Ne De Ai (I Want Y our Love — I Want You to Be My Baby (Jasmine Chen) (2:04)
  12. Yellow (Katherine Ho) (4:08)
  13. Vote (Miguel) (3:22)
  14. Money (That’s What I Want) (Cheryl K featuring Awkwafina) (3:12)

Turn into something beautiful

I’m pretty sensitive to the way music is used in film, and I dislike most soundtracks and most movie scores.  This one impressed me beginning with the opening swing of “Waiting for Your Return,” then it surprised me with interesting Chinese-language covers of familiar songs.  I didn’t know anything about the soundtrack before going in, so covers of “Material Girl,” and “Yellow” caught me off guard and really work with the moods of their scenes and the context of the film’s plot.

I had one moment where the song choice took me out of the movie for about nine seconds, when I recognized Kina Grannis’s cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and couldn’t understand how it existed in the film right when it did, but then it all made sense.  You’ll see what I mean either when you see the movie or when you look at the acting credits.

That’s really about the movie, not about this album, and this is what I’m talking about. Listening to the soundtrack is remembering the movie, which perhaps makes it a great soundtrack, but I wonder if it makes it not as good an album. Because Crazy Rich Asians is a good movie, I’m going to dismiss this possibility; yet if it had been a terrible movie, and if the soundtrack album kept reminding you of scenes in this terrible movie, would it be a terrible soundtrack, no matter how good the songs?

A moot consideration in this case.

It seems a sequel film is in the works, and I have to say I’m here for it and really interested in what’ll be on the soundtrack.

Your skin and bones

Best song: Yeah, I’m going with the crowd on this.  “Yellow.”
Second best song: The closing credits version of “Money,” the one with Awkwafina’s raps.
Surprise: “Vote” by Miguel. It’s the first interesting thing I’ve ever heard from him. I really like this.
Song to make you want to call your mom (do it!): “Yellow.”
Song to make you want to text your ex (don’t do it!): “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”
Song to make you go “Wha?”: “Material Girl.”

And all the things you do

site, amzn, sptfy, imdb

also this video of Katherine Ho singing her “PB&J”

‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is not our ‘Black Panther.’ It’s a Movement.

By Tim Lounibos

Major strides (25 years ago)

Twenty-five years ago, an Asian American industry movement seemed imminent. I was young and returned from Hong Kong as the lead in Clara Law’s Wonton Soup. Major strides were being made with the successful releases of Dragon: The Bruce Lee StoryMap of The Human HeartThe Joy Luck ClubAll-American Girl (highest-ranked new series of the season), and Vanishing Son.

My acting success was directly entwined with this movement. From summer ’93 to spring ’94, I booked a high-profile indie film, big-budget commercial film, sweeps-period telefilm, Star Trek: TNG guest star (which was just plain cool), and the pilot episode of Margaret Cho’s ground-breaking series as a would-be suitor. My career was taking off and dreams were tantalizingly achievable. Success seemed right around the corner!

However, despite the nation’s readiness to embrace Asian American actors on the large and small screens, the overall failure of All-American Girl – due to the network’s mishandling of Margaret Cho, unenlightened writing, and negative community reaction – brought everything to a screeching halt. The proverbial balloon popped and studios and networks reverted back to tried-and-true non-inclusive projects.

Popped balloons and fears of backlash
Over the next decade, though, I remained optimistic as I continued to land guest star roles, buoyed by the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition’s efforts to increase diversity on both sides of the camera—but my career eventually plateaued as momentum proved elusive for an Asian American actor in Hollywood. Along with being considered “too manly” and often hearing “we’re not going that way,” I sadly discovered that white writers hesitated to write POC-specific roles because they feared backlash from advocacy groups and feigned ignorance due to their lack of life experience.

Yet, I persisted in following my passion and overall conditions continued to improve with the help of various initiatives (internships, showcases, staffing mandates, etc.), but this forced transition of inclusive change often resulted in feelings of marginalization on staffs and in writers rooms. Some actors did find success as series regulars or supporting leads, but more often than not diversity and inclusion were reflected in the delivery guy, the nurse, or the silent extras in the background.  By that time, I reached an age where I just fell through the cracks.

Thus, as an Asian American actor, my optimism waned. I lost confidence that the industry would undergo real and meaningful change, not even allowing me the ability to provide for my growing family.  So I left Hollywood.

Business mandates, game-changers, and new optimism
Fast forward in my absence, social media and streaming content begin to wreak havoc on the Hollywood landscape. Tinseltown undergoes a seismic transformation, becoming an ultra-modern Wild West with seemingly unlimited access points and distribution outlets. Decision-makers are forced to adapt or be left behind. Content creators and viewers’ voices demand change on a viral level, and the small screen responds for Asian Americans with the shows SelfieFresh Off the Boat, and Dr. Ken.

This piques my interest.
Continue reading “‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is not our ‘Black Panther.’ It’s a Movement.”