Top 5 Music Documentaries

Olivia Walters picks her Top 5 Music Documentaries that changed her life.

NUSU
26th October 2015

Twenty Feet From Stardom:

This powerful film centres around the often difficult lives of backing singers for major artists like Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson and The Rolling Stones. Rarely receiving the credit they deserve and often exposed to manipulation and deception, these inspirational women power through due to their love of music. This film is provides a much needed service through telling the stories of these women (the majority women of colour) that we are all too ready to ignore. After watching this film it is difficult not to fume when you see the words “That woman's voice gives me goosebumps” in the youtube comment section of Gimme Shelter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9PXdv3mLhc

Fleetwood Mac Behind the Music:

Although I, like the majority, am a fan of the Mac, there is only one reason why this is on my list. It was my introduction to Stevie Nicks, who I'd only ever known from her raspy voice on mix CDs in my Mum’s car. This was when I first became aware of her magnetism and uncompromising nature when on stage and when interviewed. The image of her in white stilettos kneeling at the front of a stage banging intensely on a tambourine is seared in my brain. It is also the reason why I will forever drunkenly attempt to form all girl bands at parties.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWBp-Lgo5qM

1991: The Year Punk Broke:

Although I originally watched this documentary with the sole intent to look at Thurston Moore's face. After a recent re-watch, I found footage of a Sonic Youth European tour, featuring bands such as Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr, extremely interesting. This is due to the footage of Kurt Cobain goofing off and having fun with his friends. Especially today, it is hard to find a portrayal of the late singer that isn't through the lens of hero-worship, tragedy or conspiracy. This documentary reminds us of what we normally forget about the musicians we martyr and idolise; they are normal people.

20,000 Days On Earth:

Described as a “documentary musical drama” this film uses sets and scripted dialogue to portray the myth behind Nick Cave, as opposed to the musician himself. I found the artistic choices this film made extremely unique and intriguing. Throughout the documentary, people from Cave's past such as Kylie Minogue and Blixa Bargeld ride in the back of his car with him as opposed to being interviewed separately. It is also interesting that the film is completely from Cave's perspective. Aspects he does not want to mention - most noticeably PJ Harvey - are completely forgotten, leaving the menacing forehead of rock an even bigger mystery than before.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QGqckpW7Tg

The Punk Singer:

Your music idols coming together and gushing over each other for 1 hour and 22 minutes is never going to be a difficult watch. This documentary provided a true sense of female camaraderie as well as an accurate depiction of the struggles female musicians in the Riot Grrrl movement faced (a struggle many female musicians including myself relate to today). Although the movement itself is far from unproblematic it is difficult to ignore Kathleen Hanna's strength, courage and drive to make a difference as well as the impact she had on women at the time and continues to have today.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bf8-Yliuo1M

Olivia Walters

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