What Happened, Miss Simone? – Nina Simone is one of the most mysterious, ethereal singers of all time. Her music has an almost spiritual quality, especially some of the early 1960s recordings like “Sinnerman” and “Strange Fruit.” As talented as she was, Simone was also beset by demons that left her alienated from friends and family as she moved from America to Europe while also battling an abusive spouse and the crackdown against African-Americans in America in the face of the civil rights movement. “What Happened, Miss Simone?” is a film that captures a full portrait of this one-of-a-kind woman.
The History of the Eagles – This might just be the greatest music documentary of all time. Directed by Alison Ellwood, “The History of the Eagles” tells the full story of the most commercially successful American rock band in history. The documentary is broken up into two parts with the first and far more interesting half dedicated to their heady rise and inevitable combustion, and the second recounting their solo years before ultimately reuniting. It’s a story like no other told in the frankest terms possible.
20 Feet from Stardom – As the name suggests, “20 Feet from Stardom” tells the story of the people onstage who make the rest of the band look incredible. I’m talking of course about the backup singers. Directed by Morgan Neville, this film, which took home the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the 86th Academy Awards, profiles the lives and trials of those figures we hear but rarely ever pay attention to onstage.
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me – A portrait of one of the true titans of country music, Glen Campbell, as he embarked on one final tour after discovering he’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a tough watch for anyone who knows someone who’s been afflicted with this catastrophic disease, but Campbell handles it with the same grace, humor, and grit that endeared him to millions of people around the world throughout his lengthy career.
Gaga: Five Foot Two – Documentaries about pop stars that go beyond fan service propaganda are exceedingly rare. It’s one of the reasons that “Gaga: Five Foot Two” is so compelling. Rarely do we ever really get to see the physical and mental toll it takes to roll out a new album and prepare to perform in front of more than 100 million people at the halftime show at the Super Bowl. Lady Gaga allowed the cameras to film her every move as she did just that for an unflinching and uncompromising look at what it’s really like to be an artist of the highest level in the 21st century.
See the 15 other best music documentaries on Netflix at Uproxx.
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