35 Music Documentaries Worth Seeing

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This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

We know, we know, This Is Spinal Tap isn't actually a documentary (be careful calling it a "mockumentary" as well, Christopher Guest isn't especially fond of that term). But Spinal Tap's influence can't be dismissed. Most modern, straight music documentaries unknowingly (or knowingly?) steal narrative form, structure, and other storytelling devices from Spinal Tap, which works to increase how dead-on the satire is as time passes between viewings. It's no wonder members of famous bands (Aerosmith, U2, to name two) have said that This is Spinal Tap is too realistic to be funny; it's a sobering experience to find out that the art your life is imitating happens to be the funniest movie ever made. -- Nick Greene

This week, the latest music documentary -- One Direction: This is Us -- hits theaters. Director Morgan Spurlock spent three months on tour with the guys, whirling from Japan to Norway to Mexico, but doesn't seem to have asked them a single question besides, "How does it feel to be really, really popular?" Instead, he lumps them together like a box of chicken nuggets.

As an antidote, we present this collection of 35 music documentaries that are worth seeing.

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Published on August 29, 2013

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The Great Rock and Roll Swindle should be up there too - because its so ridiculous. I also liked the sequel of sorts by Julian Temple, (same director as the Swindle) -- The Filth and the Fury.


If you are including "This is Spinal Tap" you should also include the overlooked film "Walk Hard - The Dewey Cox Story". It's as funny as Spinal Tap and it manages to spoof all music documentaries in one film. It has all original songs in many different styles sung by John C. Reilly. If they gave Academy Awards to actors in comedies Mr. Reilly should have been a contender. What he does in this movie is as difficult as what Robert De Niro did in Raging Bull.

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