Music / Feature

New must-see music documentaries to watch

Satisfy your lust for live music by streaming one of these fascinating films from the last five years.

When it comes to our favourite artists and bands, watching a documentary is the next best thing to getting a new album. You see, these films not only capture iconic performance moments, but also give us a more unfiltered peek at their private lives, career evolution and artistic vision.

Want to follow Taylor Swift through a transformative period in her life or see Foals during two epic sold-out nights at London’s Alexandra Palace last June?

To help you narrow things down, we’ve selected some of our best-loved films from the past five years – they’ll give you the opportunity to feel like you’re learning something while you spend all this extra time sitting on the couch.


Taylor Swift – Miss Americana (2020)

Available on Netflix

Released at the end of January, the name of this Taylor Swift documentary is based on a similarly titled track, Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince, from her latest album Lover. Just as that song is about disillusionment with politics and inequality in today’s world, Miss Americana is largely about the pop star finding her voice as both a feminist and LGBTQ ally – particularly in the political arena.

Following Swift over the course of several years, Miss Americana also gives unparalleled access into her life from struggling with an eating disorder to the 2013 court battle with a Denver radio host. You’ll really get to enter Swift’s world – and not just in the recording studio and on stage – but as she reads through childhood diaries, travels with her mom and plays with her beloved cats (she even has a rucksack cum pet carrier that we adore).


Foals – Rip Up The Road (2019)

Available on Amazon Prime Video

This documentary came out after the release of Foals’ first ever No.1 album, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2. Encompassing 12 months in the band’s career when they embarked on a world tour celebrating its predecessor, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1, Rip Up The Road features loads of concert footage including clips from two phenomenal sold-out shows at London’s historic Alexandra Palace last summer.

Raw and intimate, you get to go behind the scenes after the departure of founder Walter Gervers and be immersed in Foals’ creative process – now led by vocalist and guitarist Yannis Philippakis (who wrote all the lyrics for their latest album in a pub garden). Rip Up The Road also lets you experience Foals’ ups and downs while touring. You’ll hear their frustration after performances where the energy fell flat, watch Yannis dive off numerous balconies and see them laugh together while playing ball on the beach.


Beyoncé – Homecoming (2019)

Available on Netflix

Homecoming chronicles Beyoncé’s two performances at Coachella in 2018, which marked the first time an African-American woman ever headlined the music festival. The documentary mixes rehearsal and live footage to capture an incredible display of artistry and dedication.

Speaking mostly through voiceover, Beyoncé displays her hands-on vision throughout the process. From the lighting to the bright yellow and pink hoodies worn by her backup dancers, she was personally involved in every decision. Homecoming also provides moments of vulnerability as Beyoncé struggles with the aftermath of a difficult pregnancy and worries about getting back into her pre-twins costume. A disciplined performer who truly values her fans, this film lets you see just how much work it takes to be Queen Bey.


Michael Hutchence – Mystify (2019)

Available on Amazon Prime Video

Michael Hutchence, the extraordinarily talented lead singer of the Australian rock band INXS, committed suicide in 1997 at the age of 37. The music documentary Mystify arrives courtesy of his friend Richard Lowenstein, who directed about 20 of the band’s videos. It weaves together the tragedy of Hutchence’s death through voiceovers from those who were nearest and dearest to him.

Although it spans his life, the focus is around the group’s peak in the late ’80s when INXS racked up huge hits with New Sensation, Devil Inside and Need You Tonight. The documentary includes footage of him both as a child and adult, along with home videos shot by Hutchence himself and vintage concert clips. In addition to learning about Hutchence’s tumultuous last years, you’ll also discover lesser known details that make Mystify a heartbreaking and emotional experience.


Linda Ronstadt – The Sound Of My Voice (2019)

Available on Amazon Prime Video

You’ll be absorbed by this story of ’70s singer Linda Ronstadt, a boundary-breaking artist and trailblazing woman in the male-dominated music industry. Born in Tucson, Arizona, The Sound Of My Voice uncovers how her sound was influenced by her Southwest upbringing and Mexican-American heritage.

From her folk days in the ’60s and rise as a rock queen during the ’70s through to international stardom, Ronstadt is revered for her versatile vocals. The Sound Of My Voice also explores each of these phases of her career and shows how even when she did covers, she had an uncanny way of making them her own. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Ronstadt was forced into retirement and there’s touching footage of her final performance in Texas in 2009.


Quincy Jones – Quincy (2018)

Available on Netflix

You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger industry giant than Quincy Jones, who has a whopping 27 Grammy Awards under his belt. A unique force in music for over 70 years, Quincy offers an intimate look at this cultural icon with a candid look at his private life.

Directed by daughter Rashida Jones – best known for playing Ann Perkins on the TV comedy Parks And Recreation – and Alan Hicks, Quincy tells the story of his life from growing up in Chicago to present day and follows him as he organizes a concert for the opening of the National Museum Of African-American History And Culture. In addition to footage from his childhood and in conversation with people like Frank Sinatra, the documentary boasts poignant clips of Ray Charles singing My Buddy and Quincy at the 2001 Kennedy Centre Honours presentation.


Lady Gaga – Gaga: Five Foot Two (2017)

Available on Netflix

Shot throughout the making of Lady Gaga’s fifth studio album, Joanne, this film gives you a glimpse of the human being behind the artist and pop superstar. Filmed in cinéma vérité style, Five Foot Two puts her in a whole new light – from cooking chicken in her sweatpants and feeding her dogs to dealing with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia.

Known as an artist with uncompromising standards, as Lady Gaga preps for her 2017 Super Bowl halftime performance you’ll witness the hard work that not only goes into creating her music but the whole experience surrounding it. What’s more, Five Foot Two gives insight into how she really feels about Madonna, as well as showing her strolling through a Walmart to find out if her latest album was selling.


Grateful Dead – Long Strange Trip: The Untold Story Of The Grateful Dead (2017)

Available on Amazon Prime Video

Got time for a four-hour crash course on all things Grateful Dead? Long Strange Trip takes a comprehensive look at the band’s creative spirit – and that’s a challenging thing to do. Melding an array of influences from folk to bluegrass, psychedelia to reggae, RnB to jazz – the Grateful Dead were not just about music, but offered fans a whole experience, community and way of life.

Along with performance footage, Long Strange Trip features candid interviews with surviving members Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir. Constantly on the road throughout their 30 years together, Jerry Garcia and company were basically on one long tour, and this music documentary offers an inside look at everything from their drug-fuelled lows to their artistic highs.


Oasis – Supersonic (2016)

Available on Netflix

Manchester brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher were part of the biggest thing to happen to Britain’s music scene since The Beatles. The documentary Supersonic is framed around the breakthrough years of their band Oasis, with the central narrative being the destructive relationship that existed between them.

Supersonic begins and ends with footage of their career-defining 1996 Knebworth concerts, where Oasis played to a total of 250,000 people. In between it examines the band’s meteoric rise in the ’90s along with Noel’s songwriting genius and Liam’s vocal gifts, while tracing some of their troubles back to their abusive father. Blending cool concert footage with interviews from their close inner circle, this music documentary truly puts their sibling dynamic into full focus.


Nina Simone – What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)

Available on Netflix

Numerous complexities and contradictions are uncovered about Nina Simone in this music documentary. It opens at the 1976 Montreux Jazz Festival with the beloved American soul singer walking out, taking a long bow, standing on stage and staring into the audience. After finally sitting down at the piano she says, “We will start at the beginning” before playing Little Girl Blue. What Happened, Miss Simone? then attempts to understand just why she gave up performing.

Featuring previously unheard recordings and archival footage, the film sheds light on the classically trained pianist with a voice like no other who battled with depression, abuse and other personal demons. A powerful civil rights activist, Simone retreated into obscurity when fame proved too much, but What Happened, Miss Simone? brings her musical inventiveness vividly back to life.


Discover more:

Feature: The 21 best fictional bands from films
Feature: 10 feel-good films to watch to get your theatre fix
Feature: 20 unexpectd musician cameos in films we love


Have a browse of our Concerts And Tours guide right here.

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