Music is one of the greatest things in the world, and accessible to people all across the globe. The thing we love the most about music is that it can mean different things to everyone. There are also certain musicians and artists who really transcend their music, and become icons in their own right. These are the people who command column inches, and the people we want to learn more about.
Many of the best music documentaries of all time focus on these sorts of artists. There are so many different music documentaries out there, and, since the Netflix boom, we have seen more and more of these documentaries cropping up. So we decided to make a selection of our 5 top music documentaries of all time. These are films you absolutely have to watch to enjoy a window into the lives of these great stars.
The tragic tale of Amy Winehouse is explored at length throughout this riveting documentary. The film chronicles the career and short life of a trouble young woman, trying to find herself through her music. Her talent and remarkable voice brought her immense critical acclaim and commercial success. Her two albums painted a portrait of her life for everyone to see. But, like so many stars, it doesn’t seem as though Amy had the right sort of people around her to help fight her demons. And this documentary chronicles her dramatic decline, but also, below the surface, tells the story of a vulnerable, sensitive young woman who was hounded by the press.
Searching for Sugar Man (2012)
This Oscar-winning documentary is one of the most captivating music documentaries we’ve seen in a long time. The brilliance of this film is that the subject of the documentary, American folk-soul singer Sixto Rodriguez, was largely unknown. He released a couple of records in the ‘70s that failed to make their mark in America. However, he became a sensation in South Africa, and, upon hearing of his death, two fans made the joinery to South Africa to see if this were true. This is a fascinating, moving tale about one of the best musicians you’ve never heard of.
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)
Many of us already know the tragic tale of grunge pioneer Kurt Cobain, frontman of incredibly successful Seattle band Nirvana. There are a lot of documentaries out there about the late Nirvana frontman, but this appears to be the only one actually endorsed by the Cobain family. Brett Morgan explores the early life of Cobain and his emergence as a reluctant global superstar. But, it also gives a much more personal look at the man behind the music, using journal extracts, unseen interviews, and audio recordings, to try to get a more in-depth look at one of rock’s most complex (and tortured) souls.
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004)
Heavy metal superstars Metallica have been flying the flag for hard rock since the 1980s. And, though the band has been mired in controversy in more recent times, this is still one of the most fun and fascinating documentaries we’ve seen. What makes this documentary more fascinating is that Metallica have expressed regret over the film, which chronicles the long and difficult process behind the making of their 2003 comeback album St. Anger. The movie chronicles many of the problems and in-fighting that plagued the group throughout the early to mid-2000s.
Don’t Look Back (1967)
Don’t Look Back was a documentary chronicling the career evolution of arguably the greatest living American songwriter, Bob Dylan. D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary shows Dylan’s transformation into a more mysterious and esoteric artist. It’s a fascinating look at how one of America’s greatest ever musicians chose to reinvent himself in the face of staunch criticism. The movie is seen as capturing the perfect blueprint for how to become a modern rock star.
There are so many excellent music documentaries out there, and many of them might be about artists you love. However, these five are up there with the best we’ve ever seen and are incredibly important in the makeup of modern music. Check them out right now, and change your way of thinking about the music world.