The Soundtrack That Did It: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was released on September 3, 2021, and was marked as the first Marvel movie to have an Asian lead (also the second Marvel movie to have a person of color as the lead). The movie not only shows Asian representation both on and off the screen but on the original soundtrack, as well; it features a plethora of Asian American and Asian artists while simultaneously featuring non-Asian artists. 88rising, a record label known for primarily promoting Asian American and Asian artists, was the executive producer for the album. 

The soundtrack starts with a track that may remind listeners of “Sicko Mode” because of the way it is structured musically. “Always Rising” is a two-part song and the first part begins with simple guitar strumming and at around 00:13, NIKI enters with vocals surrounded by a lot of reverb. The first part ends with a series of “ah ohs” sung by NIKI and the second part is then introduced with the lyrics “这是 88rising” (“this is 88rising” in Mandarin Chinese). The second part consists of Rich Brian and Warren Hue taking turns on the chorus and rapping then ending with Warren Hue singing the outro. This track really highlights the talent and skills of these Indonesian artists, from NIKI’s angelic vocals to Rich Brian’s and Warren Hue’s fast flow and delivery. 

Every original soundtrack needs an upbeat track to lift the moods and spirits of the audience and “Never Gonna Come Down” is the one to do just that. This track is performed by K-Pop idol Mark Tuan and K-Pop singer-songwriter, rapper, and producer BIBI. From Tuan’s upbeat and poppy vocals to BIBI’s rap-like vocals, this is the perfect song to blast while on car rides with your best friends. Though BIBI says one line in Korean, the rest of the song is in English and easy to follow along. 

The end credits song is one of the most important elements of a movie, in my honest opinion, because it can sometimes make or break an audience’s mood. In this case, it definitely made the audience’s mood. Co-written by Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, and several others, “Fire in the Sky” is another upbeat song with a kind of soul/funk that will leave the listener in a good mood. 

Simu Liu, who plays the titular character, also makes an appearance on the soundtrack providing both lyrics and vocals for his debut track, “Hot Soup”. He uses hot soup as a symbol of family, memories of the past, and independence; hot soup is something that is significantly important in Chinese culture because it can serve as a way to show love and even connect families together. This is a song full of emotion and fondness for something as small and simple as hot soup. 

Marvel fans were afraid that there was not going to be another soundtrack that lived up to the standards set by the soundtracks of Black Panther and the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse but many were satisfied with this soundtrack. This is an album that not only had strong East and Southeastern Asian representation, but it also showed the talent of many artists whose names might not have been familiar to listeners in the States.

About Hannah Chen

Hannah is a first-year Anthropology major from Chicago who enjoys scrolling through TikTok and YouTube, tomato beef noodle soup, tres leches cakes, and many other things.

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