The best music documentaries to binge on while in isolation
From Supersonic to Searching for Sugar Man, these should see you through a few weeks at least.
Last updated: 2nd Apr 2020
Remember all the times someone suggested a music documentary you should watch and you replied, "Yeah sounds good, I'll get on that", and then obviously never did?
Well, now you have time... loads and loads of time.
Next time someone talks about 'how Dr. Dre became a billionaire' or about 'that festival guy who offered someone oral sex in return for bottles of water' you'll actually know what they're talking about.
The time is now. The list is here. Stay home. Watch these. Be safe.
A closer look at the careers of two music heavyweights and how their destinies became intertwined. From inside info on studio sessions with John Lennon and Stevie Nicks to interviews with Eminem, Snoop and loads more, The Defiant Ones is a fascinating insight into the workings of the industry, how Dre became a billionaire, and how they went on to found a little headphones company called Beats. Plus it comes a series, so it's a binge watcher's dream.
A sad but gripping tale of one of the finest British voices of all time. Amy is an intimate portrayal of the great artists' life and career in music, from trouble with the tabloids to her destructive relationship with husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, and her struggles with heroin addiction.
A typically bold, brash and empowering documentation of Queen Bey's worldwide domination, culminating with an out-of-this-world headline performance at Coachella Festival in 2018. Homecoming was written, directed and executive produced by Beyoncé herself, demonstrating, once again, her genius for contemporary entertainment (and a whole load of slaying, naturally).
A lengthy but nonetheless fascinating insight into the world of the quiet Beatle. For Fab Four fans this is a must see, offering an in-depth look at George's life as part of the greatest band of all time, and what came after, including the release of seminal album All Things Must Pass (plus lots more too).
Snoop Dogg. Snoop Doggy Dogg. DJ Snoopadelic. Ah, and what else? Oh of course: Snoop Lion. This absolute gem on Netflix sees Vice magazine's Andy Capper follow the D O double G to Jamaica after a spiritual moment with Bob Marley advised him to become a reggae artist. This is definitely one for the smokers. Oh, and count how many Adidas football shirts you see Snoop go through.
Filmed in part by DeMarco himself, as well as his bassist Pierce McGarry, this self-titled 'Mac-umentary' shows Mac at home teaching us how to record rock and roll music, as well as generally dicking about on tour in China with the gang. Featuring an abundance of puerile humour, beers and slacker rock, this is 34 minute film also boasts a pretty memorable shower scene.
The tale of the Gallagher brothers stratospheric rock 'n' roll ride to the top with Oasis has been told plenty of times before, but not quite like this. Culminating with a knockout performance at their enormous Knebworth shows, Supersonic is a hilarious, emotional, rip-roaring rags to riches tale with one of the greatest British bands of all time. It'll have you swaggering all the way to the kitchen to get more snacks and drinks.
What Happened, Miss Simone? - Nina Simone
This story of legendary soul singer Nina Simone pulls together rare archive footage and never-before-heard recordings, charting her journey from a child trained in classic piano through an illustrious (but troubled) career into civil rights activism and exile in Liberia.
This Was Tomorrowland
If you're looking for an electronic music doc, this is a biggie. Marking the tenth anniversary of the world's largest dance music festival, this 77 minute film follows the unique journeys of six festival-goers as they travel to three Tomorrowland festivals in three different countries: Belgium (where it all began), Brazil and the U.S..
Dig was created from over 1500 hours of footage, shot over a seven year period, as the contrasting music careers of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols collided to seismic (and seriously watchable) effect. This documentary mainly focuses on the love-hate relationship between frontmen Courtney Taylor-Taylor and Anton Newcombe, and if you enjoy a fall out, as well as a shed load of top tunes, then this one is for you.
FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
Aside from birthing one of the finest meme outbreaks ever seen on the internet, FYRE is an almost unbelievable lesson in not believing all that you see on the internet. At once a behind-the-scenes study in how not to organise a festival and a takedown of influencer culture, it's hard not to reach for the popcorn as the situation becomes more and more dire on the 'paradise' island.
Searching for Sugar Man - Sixto Rodriguez
You've probably never heard of Sixto Rodriguez, but he's become something of a cult hero following this Oscar-winning documentary, which follows the journey of two South African superfans who go in the search of the little known (in his own country at least) Detroit folk-rock singer songwriter, who may or may not have died in spectacular circumstances.
An intimate portrait of LCD frontman James Murphy in the build-up to the band's four-hour farewell show at Madison Square Garden in April 2011 - a performance Murphy would later describe as “a perfect swan-dive”. Although the dance-punk pioneers would reform just a few years later (reportedly at the insistence of David Bowie, no less), the documentary serves as a both a concert film and captivating study of a band considered by many to be one of the finest to come out of American this century.
Keith Richards: Under the Influence - Keith Richards
A lightweight portrait of the legendary Rolling Stones' guitarist and hell-raiser as he records his first solo album in two decades, this 90 minute documentary tells the tale of how Richards and Jagger came together (on platform 2 of Dartford station in 1961), explores the artists and genres which have inspired him, and spends a good deal of time with the man himself who, as ever, is charming, self-deprecating and just bloody good company.
Manchester Keeps On Dancing
This 90 minute film documents the arrival of house music in Manchester from Chicago in the 1980s, through to the acid house explosion of 1988 and beyond. Presenting never-seen-before archive footage and in-depth interviews with local and international DJs, including Andrew Weatherall, Seth Troxler and Greg Wilson, this is a fascinating study into a subculture which put Manchester firmly on the worldwide music map.
HOMOBLOC: The Story Behind The UK's Biggest Ever Queer Rave
We don't want to blow our own trumpets or anything... well, actually we do. Skiddle's very own mini-documentary about the history of Manchester LGBT+ club night, Homoelectric, and it's epic, 10,000 capacity 'queer rave' in 2019 is both an unlikely tale of an underground (and almost accidental) clubbing success and an eye-opening look at one of the most memorable events in recent club history. This is definitely Not Safe For Work(ing From Home).