Why music documentaries have taken off

February 9, 2022
Max Gruber 0

There’s no denying that the popularity of documentaries has grown significantly in the past 15 years, especially with the rise of popular streaming platforms such as Netflix and Apple TV. One sub-genre that has really taken off, however, is music documentaries.

These films and short series give us a glimpse into the inner lives of musicians and bands as they are rising, falling, fighting, or simply playing music. But why are these documentaries so popular, and what are some of the best music documentaries out there?

Why are music documentaries so popular right now?

One of the main reasons why music documentaries are so popular is down to the modern world’s obsession with pop culture. Celebrities, especially musicians, are constantly under scrutiny from their fans and the paparazzi. So when we get a small glimpse into their lives, such as through a music documentary on Netflix, it’s like we are getting the music star equivalent of an up-close and personal.

For example, the American music documentary, Miss Americana, gives us a revealing portrait of one of the biggest A-listers in the world, Taylor Swift. In a climate where access to these musicians is increasingly off-limits, we see Taylor open up about her battle with media scrutiny and the issues caused as a result. This glimpse of her life is something that we, as viewers, would not usually see when she’s on stage performing.

Music documentaries are simply no longer restricted to just concerts and biographies. Docs like Miss Americana and Framing Britney Spears are changing the way we think about pop culture.

What are some of the best music documentaries out now?

The Beatles: Get Back (2021)

This Peter Jackson music docu series was made with unused footage and audio material from a 1970s Beatles documentary. It follows the band during the making and recording of their 1970 album, Let It Be, as they prepare for their first live performance in over two years. Get Back has received critical acclaim for its depiction of Paul, John, Ringo and George as they struggle through a particularly difficult time in their careers.

Miss Americana (2020)

This film is arguably one of the best Netflix music documentaries that have been released in the past couple of years. The film follows Taylor Swift as she not only embraces her life as a singer-songwriter but as an influential woman ‘harnessing the full power of her voice.’ Taylor has suffered plenty of media scrutiny over her career, and this documentary is her version of events and truth to many of the stories and controversies that have followed her over the past few years.

Bros: After The Screaming Stops (2019)

After the Screaming Stops is a documentary film that follows Matt and Luke Goss from the 80s/90s pop band Bros. It aired on BBC4 in 2019 and unexpectedly became a cult hit, sparking countless memes and even winning a BAFTA! This was thanks to the comedic nature of the film, which had the brothers delivering iconic one-liners such as: “I think the letters H-O-M-E are so important because they personify the word home.”

Framing Britney Spears (2021)

Framing Britney Spears is a powerful music documentary that tells the story of Britney’s iconic music career – from her beginnings to superstardom and worldwide fame. It features some exclusive footage that shows the singer in a more vulnerable light than ever before, showcasing the misogyny she faced as a young female singer in the 90s. The documentary’s release spurred the #FreeBritney movement that ultimately led to the ending of Britney’s infamous conservatorship at the hands of her father.

The Velvet Underground (2021)

The Velvet Underground are such a unique and influential band, that a straightforward rock documentary approach would not work for them. This music documentary, however, gives viewers a glimpse into the 1960s band that helped steer music culture from traditional rock ‘n’ roll to punk and new wave. And there’s no concert footage whatsoever – instead the film focuses solely on a slideshow of still photographs alongside newly uncovered interviews and clips of this iconic band.

Music documentary reviews and more by Ready Steady Cut

Besides music, if you love film and TV, then you’ll want to check out the rest of the Ready Steady Cut site! We specialise in detailed reviews of your favourite (or least favourite) movies and TV shows. Our reviews are up-to-date and in line with the latest viewer trends, so be sure to take a look around, maybe you’ll find your next viewing inspiration!