From BTS, Shanti Dope, BLACKPINK, and more, these Asian artists and their songs were able to soundtrack big-budget Hollywood productions.
The powerful thing about music is that it is universal. Even if you don’t speak the language of the song’s lyrics, it won’t stop you from enjoying it. This is exemplified in the fact that genres like Latin music and K-Pop are so popular around the world even in places that don’t speak the language. It’s no surprise then to see that Hollywood has featured Asian artists and their songs in Hollywood soundtracks. Even if they aren’t in the English language, these Asian songs have helped soundtrack some iconic scenes in Hollywood productions and still match or enhance the vibe perfectly. Here then are 15 times when Asian artists and their songs were featured in the soundtracks to Hollywood productions.
BTS – THE ETERNALS
Given how BTS has exploded in popularity in the past few years, it was only a matter of time before one of their songs would be used in a major Hollywood production. And that time is now as it was recently announced that their song Friends would be featured in The Eternals official soundtrack. Friends is Jimin and V’s duet about the special friendship they have. It was included as a B-side in their Map of the Soul:7 album in 2020. We were already excited to watch The Eternals and this news just made us want to see it more.
BTS’S RM – FANTASTIC FOUR
While many ARMY were excited about the news of Friends being in The Eternals, this actually is not the first time a BTS song was featured in a Marvel movie. Back in 2015, to celebrate the release of the Fantastic Four reboot in Korea, RM actually made an original song called Fantastic for the movie. The track is a collaboration with Mandy Ventrice and was used to promote the movie in Korea. Fantastic is an underrated bop and it’s kinda sad that it was made for the Fantastic Four reboot given how disappointing that movie was. Hopefully, RM or the whole group could make another original song for a Hollywood movie.
VARIOUS – CRAZY RICH ASIANS
When Crazy Rich Asians landed in theaters in 2018, the movie was not only a critical and commercial success but was praised for having an all-Asian cast as its lead. The representation wasn’t just limited to the onscreen actors though as even the soundtrack featured a mostly Asian line-up. Artists like Katherine Ho, Cherly K, Grace Cheng, Jasmine Chen, Vava, and more were brought on into the movie’s soundtrack. Some of the stand-out tracks include Katherine Ho’s Mandarin cover of Yellow by Coldplay and Japanese-American singer Kina Grannis’s cover of Can’t Help Falling in Love With You by Elvis Presley.
PSY- BLACK PANTHER
BTS isn’t the only K-Pop-related act to have one of their songs be featured in the soundtrack to a Marvel movie. One of PSY’s songs was included in the movie Black Panther. During the scene where the leads travel to Busan, South Korea, PSY’s song Hangover can briefly be heard in the background.
VARIOUS – SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS
Another important milestone for Asians in Hollywood movies, Shang-Chi changed the game for superhero movies as it was the first time Marvel featured an Asian superhero as its lead character. From front to back, the whole movie made sure to spotlight Asian excellence and that includes its soundtrack. The official Shang-Chi soundtrack was produced by 88rising and features a who’s who of Asian acts from Rich Brian, Warren Hue, NIKI, Mark Tuan, BIBI, keshi, and more. The album is a worthy listen even if you haven’t seen the movie yet.
WONDER GIRLS – PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR
Nobody by the Wonder Girls is a true classic. Most K-pop stans of today may have heard of Nobody even before they realized it was from a K-Pop group. The song’s popularity also got the song featured in a few productions. Most notably, it was used in a quick scene in the Penguins Of Madagascar movie in 2013. The girls also performed the song in their Nickelodeon movie, The Wonder Girls. Yes, you read that right. The Wonder Girls had their own Nickelodeon movie where they played themselves and even had JYP in a supporting role.
MEIKO KAJI AND THE 5,6,7,8’S – KILL BIL VOL 1 AND 2
Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol.1 and 2 are some of the best action movies ever made. The tale of revenge of a former assassin against her co-workers for trying to kill her is highly regarded as a masterpiece. The movies were also known for taking heavy inspiration from Japanese cinema. Some of the first film even took place in Japan and The Bride’s yellow tracksuit was inspired by Bruce Lee.
Given this, it’s no surprise then to learn that the film’s soundtrack featured Asian artists. Japanese singer Meiko Kaji was featured in both films. In Vol 1, she sang The Flower Of Carnage, while in Vol. 2, she sang Urami Bushi. Then there’s also Japanese girl band, The 5,6,7,8’s. The group was actually in the movie as they were the band signing during the Showdown at the House of Blue Leaves. They performed some of their songs including the memorable Woo Hoo.
RED VELVET – TROLLS 2
When Trolls 2 was announced, the producers revealed that they would be expanding the music genres featured in the movie which means K-Pop was included. Red Velvet is featured in the movie as the K-Pop trolls and actually voices their characters. Two of their songs were also used for the soundtrack, Zimzalabim and Russian Roulette.
TERIYAKI BOYZ- THE FAST AND FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is a bit of a divisive movie in the FF series. Some liked the change in setting while others felt it was too different. But many people do agree that the soundtrack was so good. One standout track from the soundtrack and probably the most memorable is Tokyo Drift (Fast & Furious) by Japanese hip hop group Teriyaki Boyz. Even if you don’t know the name of the song, then you at least have heard of the track’s iconic opening. The 5,6,7,8’s are also featured on the soundtrack with the song, Barracuda.
GIRL’S GENERATION, CHERRY BULLET, AND BLACKPINK – TO ALL THE BOYS: ALWAYS AND FOREVER
The final movie in this Netflix trilogy, To All The Boys: Always And Forever begins with Lara Jean and her family vacationing in Korea. Of course, the setting invites the film to feature a few K-Pop songs in the soundtrack. The movie opens with Girl’s Generation Gee. BLACKPINK’s Kill This Love and Pretty Savage are also used. Even the K-Pop girl group Cherry Bullet is on the soundtrack with their song, Q&A.
SHANTI DOPE – THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER
As Filipino viewers tuned in to watch the third episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, they got a pleasant surprise when they heard a Filipino song play in the episode. That song was Shanti Dope’s Amatz. In the scene, Sam Wilson, Bucky Barnes, and Baron Zemo first arrive at the Southeast Asian city of Madripoor and Amatz can be heard playing in the background. While it may only have been a snippet, the inclusion of the track in the soundtrack was a treat for Filipino Marvel fans.
BIG BANG AND PSY – GLEE
During its run, Glee covered and featured hundreds of songs from a variety of genres, and that includes K-Pop. Two K-pop songs in fact were featured on Glee. In one instance, Fantastic Baby by BIG BANG can be heard playing in the background. Meanwhile, New Directions performed PSY’s Gangnam Style during sectionals which made for one of the show’s more…unique performances. If Glee was still on the air, maybe they would have covered even more K-pop songs.
KZ TANDINGAN – RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON
Filipinos singing in Disney animated movies is nothing new. But never has it been that a song Filipino song has been featured in a soundtrack for a Disney animated film, until now. Last March, Disney tapped KZ Tandingan to sing the first ever Tagalog song in the Disney canon called Gabay. It was for the film Raya and the Last Dragon and given how it featured the first-ever Southeast Asian Disney princess, it was only right that an artist like KZ got featured.
SISTAR – FAMILY GUY
While SISTAR may be no more, their songs still live on like the earworm that is Touch My Body. It’s so addicting that it even got featured in an episode of Family Guy. The episode in question sees Peter and his friends travel to South Korea after finding out that Quagmire starred in a Korean soap opera called Winter Summer (a parody of the K-Drama Winter Sonata). There, a TV is turned on and the music video of Touch My Body by SISTAR is played. Peter then goes on to say, “What is this and how can I make the rest of my life about it,” a feeling many K-pop fans can relate to.
SHINEE – LUCIFER (TV SHOW)
In the 13th episode of the 3rd season of Lucifer, the titular character goes to a club to confront a Korean gang. A fight ensues and Lucifer by SHINee plays during the fight. The fight is well-shot and choreographed and the song fits with the scene really well. And of course, with a show called Lucifer, it’s really only a matter of time before SHINee’s Lucifer would have been used.
Continue Reading: Catch These Filipino Stars In Upcoming Hollywood Projects