Andrea Arnold’s American Honey premiered at Cannes this week to very mixed reviews, with some applauding it as a rebellious masterpiece and others, this critic included, finding it to have far less to offer. You can read my full review here.
The film focuses on a road trip undertaken by Star (Sasha Lane) and a group of fellow youngsters who are travelling across the country selling magazine subscriptions. As they move from town to town, across the vast expanses of America, they listen to a lot of music in the mini-van they are travelling in. They also use music for motivation for selling, including a daily ritual of listening to ‘Choices (Yup)’ by E-40. There’s a lot of hip hop, but there are also a few moments in the film in which different sorts of music creep in, including a somewhat surprising appearance of a song by Bonnie “Prince” Billy.
In choosing the hip hop and R&B tracks for American Honey, there appears to have been a desire to not pick the most obvious choices, but to kept things relatively mainstream. The characters can rap along with Kevin Gates, Juicy J, and Migos tracks, and like to grind in the van to Jeremih, but their tastes cover artists who are relatively well known. There aren’t really any ‘deep cuts’ to be found here.
A key scene uses Rhianna and Calvin Harris’ ‘We Found Love’ – this song returns again, playing as something of a signifier of the intoxication that Star feels throughout the film – but unfortunately this serves a little too much to remind one of the far greater use of a Rhianna song in Celine Sciamma’s Girlhood.
There’s also an early moment in which Jake (Shia LaBeouf) serenades Star with a rendition of ‘Dream Baby Dream’, a song by electronic punk band, Suicide. This isn’t the version that Jake, or a truck driver who plays it in his cab, is familiar with though. Instead we hear Bruce Springsteen’s haunting cover version, a cover that is perhaps one of Springsteen’s most beautiful recordings and is easily up there with anything from his sublime Nebraska.
You can find the full soundtrack listing for the film below/listen to all the songs (apart from ‘Careless Love’ by Bonnie “Prince” Billy, which you’ll need to find elsewhere) with this handy Spotify playlist:
Juicy J feat. Wale and Trey Songz – Bounce It
Quigley – Beginning of Anything
Rhianna feat. Calvin Harris – We Found Love
Madeintyo – Uber Everywhere
Sam Hunt – Take Your Time
Lee Brice – I Don’t Dance
Steve Earle – Copperhead Road
Kevin Gates – Out the Mud
Big Sean feat. E-40 – I Don’t Fuck With You
Jeremih feat. Lil Wayne and Natasha Mosley – All the Time
E-40 – Choices (Yup)
Ciara feat. Ludacris – Ride
The Ravonettes – Recharge and Revolt
Rae Sremmmurd – No Type
Mazzy Star – Fade Into You
Carnage feat. Migos – Bricks
Bruce Springsteen – Dream Baby Dream
Carnage feat. ILoveMakonnen – I Like Tuh
Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Careless Love
Låpsley – 8896
OG Maco – U Guessed It
Lady Antebellum – American Honey
Raury – God’s Whisper
Razzy Bailey – I Hate Hate