Although I’ve never been much of a moviegoer, I was in fervent anticipation of the recent ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ film for obvious reasons. Asian representation in the media plays a big part in fostering cultural understanding and bridging the gap, and in its own way can even impact on the passage of Chinese music across borders. If it might not occur to you immediately why this might be, the case study of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and its soundtrack is a perfect place to launch such a discussion.
Despite the overly positive reviews of the soundtrack (most of which come from a western viewpoint); I thought it would be an interesting experiment to share my perspective on the film’s soundscape. As a Singaporean, member of the Asian diasporic community and a Mandopop enthusiast, it seems that I just so happen to possess the rare (but often useless) permutation of skills to launch a well-rounded critique of the film.
As soon as the titles started to roll and the sounds of a familiar Mandarin classic piped serenely into the background, I was choked with emotion. Never has a Western Blockbuster so prominently and positively displayed the music I loved. It had always been the small victories; like a end credits Mandarin song for Transformers, or some Jay Chou thrown into The Green Hornet or one of his other titles as a freebie; examples few and far between. And as the soundtrack progressed, I was in absolute euphoria. Never had I expected the soundtrack to be made up majorly of Mandarin tracks. By exposing millions of Western and worldwide audiences to Mandarin music, this would potentially be a huge for the industry. If executed well, the movie could be a perfect stepping stone for bridging cultural gaps between the east and the west; not only through the visual techniques, narratives and themes of the movie; but also through the film’s soundscape.