Arriving in theaters this week, Joy Ride is the tale of four unlikely friends who embark on a hilarious and unapologetically explicit adventure through Asia.
When the high-achieving Audrey (Ashley Park) travels to China for a business trip with her irreverent best friend, Lolo (Sherry Cola), they are joined by Audrey’s college pal turned Chinese soap star, Kat (Stephanie Hsu), and Lolo’s K-Pop-loving cousin, Deadeye (Sabrina Wu). From there things go sideways, but over the course of the film, the no-holds-barred mayhem turns into a journey of bonding, friendship, and debauchery.
Offering a glimpse into the Asian American experience—particularly for young women—Joy Ride reveals the universal truth of what it means to know and love who you are.
Music also plays a prominent role in the film. K-Pop’s massive cultural impact is felt throughout it, but especially when the quartet creates their own K-Pop group, Brownie Tuesday, complete with a cover of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP.”
To celebrate the release of the film, the four stars put their heads together to create the Joy Ride Official Playlist, collecting their personal favorite songs that capture the collective spirit of the characters they portrayed.
With new and classic hits from BTS, BLACKPINK, Spice Girls, Drake, Lizzo, Vanessa Carlton, Kelly Clarkson, Victoria Monet, and New Edition, as well as official soundtrack cuts from The Linda Lindas, Queen WA$ABII, and VaVa, it’s a collection that evokes both nostalgia and a desire to sing along.
For the Record caught up with the foursome to talk about their picks, what it was like to perform “WAP,” and the influence of K-Pop culture on the movie.
What inspired the mood for the Joy Ride Official Playlist? Were there any songs that you were especially excited to include?
Stephanie: I think that if we were on a road trip, we’d just want that nostalgia. There are certain albums and songs that spoke to you at an exact time and place of your life. I threw in one that’s very tweeny, which is not my typical forte of music, but it’s Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles.”
Ashley: The four of us would be in a car looking out the window as if we were Vanessa Carlton herself . . . and then nobody would be driving.
Sherry: “Say You’ll Be There” by the Spice Girls is a big one for me. It’s about friendship, you know, and having each other’s backs and having a good time while we’re doing it.
Stephanie: Sabrina, do you know the Spice Girls?
Sabrina: Yeah I know the Spice Girls. To be clear, you’re gonna be surprised that some of those songs that I threw on the playlist are pretty old. I was thinking about the big breakup at the end and so I threw in “After the Love Has Gone” by Earth, Wind & Fire.
Ashley: I added some BLACKPINK because we want that K-Pop type of beat behind us, but also included Kelly Clarkson because I think we all love to emote as well. We’re dramatic.
Ashley: Yeah! They used that for the moment when we first walk in the airport as Brownie Tuesday so that we could feel like the best versions of ourselves. I always associate that with the movie.
Sabrina: I also felt like there needed to be a hot song that references travel. So I had “Coastin’” by Victoria Monet. And I’m gonna butcher the lines, but there’s a moment that’s like, “Feel like a Thursday how I’m throwin’ it back. Baby we can go North, South, East, West Coast.” And I thought that was pretty hot.
You cover Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion for the big Brownie Tuesday airport scene. How did that go down?
Ashley: I think that’s special in the film because it was the first time us four got together and really collaborated creatively. We worked on that during the very first table read, and we discovered that Sabrina is an amazing beatboxer.
And we’re really happy that Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B gave their blessing to have the song in the film. That was the best form of allyship we could ask for. We’ve all blared the song to ourselves, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, this really pushes buttons and breaks barriers that shouldn’t have even been there.” I don’t even think I realized until we were recording it, but the way that the lyrics were rewritten by our writers was so specific to us and they still worked so well. I felt very liberated listening to it.
Sabrina: Cardi and Meg really did a lot for women’s sexuality and we are lucky to live in a world with them. We are not deserving of that song and their power.
Sherry: Truly, truly, truly. Yeah. I can’t wait for Cardi B and Meg to watch the film.
That scene also includes a fully choreographed K-Pop routine. What was the whole experience like?
Stephanie: Well I’ll just say that making a movie is like co-birthing a baby and also the most profound form of trauma bonding. We would film Monday through Friday and rehearse on Saturdays. And we were rewriting lyrics as we were going so it was kind of a frenzy and chaos—we really wanted to get it right. But it was really fun. We really wanted to honor the original songs and honor Deadeye’s vision of friendship and badassness.
Sherry: Yeah. We really went all out. And shout out to Joe Tuliao, our incredible choreographer, and also the backup dancers. I mean, that was the squad.
Were there any K-Pop songs or artists you listened to during the shoot to prepare for the Brownie Tuesday scene?
Sabrina: I think we listened to a lot of BLACKPINK, if I remember.
Stephanie: Yeah. We watched the BLACKPINK documentary together.
Ashley: I wish the BLACKPINK song “Pink Venom” was out when we did the film, because I feel like the vibe of it is absolutely exactly what we needed for the scene.
Sherry: The whole scene was definitely an homage to BLACKPINK and just the fact that K-Pop is this global sensation that’s taking over.
Sabrina, did you discover any particular pockets of K-Pop fandom to help inform Deadeye?
Sabrina: Yeah, I definitely took a look at things like fancams when we were filming, because K-Pop was definitely in the cultural spotlight at the time—it was all over the internet. People were talking about K-Pop fans a lot because they disrupted a political rally in Oklahoma by buying all of the tickets.
I was very aware of just how powerful of a global community it was, so that informed my character. And when I was growing up, I lived very much on the internet. I was obsessed with Asian YouTube and Asian hip-hop. And so I sort of brought that personal experience of being deeply involved in and drawn to Asian culture. So that’s sort of how Deadeye was born.
Ashley: Also what I love about the movie is we get to see the K-Pop community and really understand why Deadeye and the K-Pop army really love and cherishes this music and these groups. I’m so happy in the way that we present them as heroes and show how they show up for people they’ve never met in real life.
Discover all the ups, downs, and mayhem of this fearsome foursome in Joy Ride, playing in theaters now.