A Ford pickup drives down a dirt track at night toward a rendezvous at an oil field, where a well fire burns bright, illuminating our characters in the car. A rich oil worker has paid a young woman to ‘hang out‘ with him. We knew what was going to happen when the agreement was made. This scene isn’t going to be easy to watch. But then something happens. On his car stereo he plays “Dream Baby Dream” by Bruce Springsteen. It is a beautiful song, full of hope, love and dreams. The beauty metaphorically meets the ugly, and it forces us to look harder at what is happening here. Was this song played for us, is it a manipulation of the oil worker or to Star, the woman?
American Honey shows the beauty and ugliness of America. A snapshot of youth and dreams that were promised in our media but never delivered but the fire inside us that cannot be distinguished even in the most desperate of situations.
The soundtrack’s thread through varying genres can be summed up as hope. Never better illustrated than the opening scene in which our protagonist, in seemingly hopeless situation, meets a boy to soundtrack of Rihanna‘s ‘We Found Love‘. The songs emotional vocal delivery to the frenzied, processed sounds that put the beautiful with the ugly, the natural and the industrial. It is is beautiful moment, set in a microcosm that is everything wrong with our Western society.
Hedonistic tracks like “Uber Everywhere“, “Choices” and “Out Of Mud” meet homegrown American folk tales like “Copperhead Road“, “Careless Love” and the title song “American Honey” strangely mix well in the modern but weathered environments, and to the loss of innocence in our protagonist..
A lot of soundtracks are there to tell you what to feel but it seemed that American Honey is there to question what you feel. Tracks like the previously mentioned ‘Dream Baby Dream’ are at odds with the scenes that throw a myriad of emotions at you at once; Sometimes blissful but more commonly uncomfortable, violent images that invite the audience to have more than one viewpoint on what we are seeing through Star’s eyes.
The American Honey soundtrack is very successful in both a captivating and album worthy selection of songs, but on a deeper level showing us that there is hope in a world where it is so easy to get lost, and so hard to rise above the abundance of ugliness it has to offer.
The “American Honey (OST)” is out now on Universal