When it comes to documentaries - or any other genre - Netflix is the place to go. Featuring hundreds of options, covering topics from serial killers to social commentary, the streaming service offers a plethora of diverse music-related documentaries. With docs ranging from rap legends Biggie and Tupac to pianist and trailblazing civil rights activist Nina Simone to classical songstress Barbra Streisand, the international streaming service is not lacking in music-related documentaries, but there are some seriously rockin’ standouts.
10 HΘMΣCΘMING: A Film By Beyoncé
Written, directed, and produced by Queen Bey herself, HΘMΣCΘMING: A Film By Beyoncé tracks the road to the songstress’ jaw-dropping and long-awaited return to the stage. Beyoncé also welcomed other artists to the stage, including her husband, Jay-Z, and fellow members of Destiny’s Child, fans old and new experienced history in the making as Beyoncé became the first-ever black female headliner to perform at the Coachella Valley and Music Festival.
Like other performances during her decades-long career, Queen Bey included fan-favorite hits, a full brass band, 64 credited performers, and a firework finale. What's noticeably different, however, are Beyoncé’s more recent lyrical messages.
The celebrated artist has evolved from a poppy girl group vocalist to a strong, powerful advocate for her community. In keeping with the show's theme of homecoming at historically black colleges and universities, Beyoncé incorporated years of black musical and dance traditions, black campus Greek life, and poignant quotes from black academics and civil rights leaders into her history-making performance. While Bey may be a queen to the masses, she uses her fame to challenge an overwhelmingly white music industry and its standards. Simply put: we aren’t worthy.
9 Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour
Unlike the other expository or performative documentaries on the list, Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour is purely a two-hour concert taping. Released on New Year’s Eve, fans and haters, alike, tuned in to live—or relive—vicariously through her concert attendees.
Swift has always been a polarizing artist. Whether it’s her songs or her fame, the country and pop powerhouse has spent years under scrutiny for whom she’s dated, her friend group (dubbed a “squad” by rag mags), her songwriting, and her alleged beef with other celebs. One of the selling points of the film is the lack of drama and critical reception. Tay doesn’t address her public or private life, she lets her music and performance speak for itself.
Opening with a darker, slower rendition of her aptly titled single, “Are You Ready For It?,” and closing with “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” the rockumentary’s unvarnished look makes you feel as though you’re experiencing the show right along with the crowd—except with a VIP vantage point and studio sound quality. Call it what you want, but Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour is a must-see for both fans and haters alike.
8 Gaga: Five Foot Two
I’ll just get all of the puns out of the way now: The Fame Monster may have been “Born This Way” and made it to “The Edge of Glory,” there are still easily “A Million Reasons” why you should watch Gaga: Five Foot Two and discover why it’s earned so much “Applause.” There. Done.
Gaga: Five Foot Two introduces us to a side of Lady Gaga we haven't seen. Chronicling the singer's JoAnne album launch and Super Bowl performance, Gaga: Five Foot Two reminds us why Mother Monster is one of the most talked-about artists on the planet.
However, the true draw of Gaga: Five Foot Two is the petite powerhouse's humor and self-awareness. Throughout her star-studded career, Gaga has amassed a ruthlessly loyal fanbase—and rightfully so. Unlike many other stars of her caliber, Lady Gaga practices what she preaches. Her songs celebrate differences and encourage inclusion. In the most literal and least cheesy sense, Mother Monster wants her fans to see themselves the way she does: perfectly imperfect.
And "perfectly imperfect" might be the best way to describe the film. Gaga’s documentary shares the singer’s moments—and not just the great ones. From meltdowns to Madonna drama to music to monsters, the documentary highlights her imperfections, which only adds to the multi-faceted musician’s image. The singer’s raw relatability, juxtaposed with superstardom, makes Gaga: Five Foot Two a must-see.
7 FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
Co-produced by the social media agency responsible for promoting what was advertised as a two-week luxury island getaway, FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened tore open the FEMA tents and exposed the mind-boggling event from inception to catastrophic completion.
“Bait and switch” doesn’t begin to cover what happened on Great Exuma Island. Marketed to rich millennials and social media influencers, Rapper Ja Rule, along with some of the most famous faces in the entertainment industry, teamed up with Billy McFarland to host a luxury music festival. A series of unfortunate events, some born out of McFarland's blinding ego and others from ironic and uncontrollable circumstances, brought down the fake festival of cards
Juxtaposing the FYRE Fest’s false advertisements and questionable marketing practices with the depressing outcome, the dark documentary takes a cold, hard look at the public’s use of social media. Not only questioning the legitimacy and legality of online misrepresentation, the documentary also explores how millennial society refuses to look past the shiny toy in front of them and see the lies and destruction producing it.
Everyone has at least one friend who whips out the guitar at parties and tries to impress the group with a rousing rendition of Oasis’ “Wonderwall.” Though it’s been years since Oasis’ final performance in 2009, the famous British band's songs continue to entertain while Noel and Liam Gallaghers' dirty laundry continues to produce rag mag fodder.
Aptly named after Oasis’ first hit single, Supersonic balances the group’s fame and the Gallagher brothers' bitter—and very public—rifts with great music and exclusive footage from studio and stage—including clips from their famous 1996 Knebworth performance—making the expository documentary a must-see for any music fan.
As far as music biopics go, Amy is an absolute must-see. Don’t believe me? Well, not only is it the top-grossing British documentary of all-time, Amy won the Best Documentary Oscar in 2016. Shot in chronological order, the biopic catalogs the life and tragic death of one of the most promising British songstresses, as Amy passed away at 27-years-old due to alcohol poisoning at her home in London.
Captivating from the moment it starts, Amy doesn’t skimp on exclusives or jaw-dropping insight, either. Brimming with never-before-seen footage of concerts, studio sessions, and even home movies. Though the documentary tracks the life and times of an incredible talent who passed away far too young, Amy is an engrossing reminder that her music will always live on.
Unlike many of the films featured on this list, Rapture isn' a singular artist’s story, but rather a lens into the evolution of hip hop in the music industry and the artists responsible for building the genre from the ground up.
Split into eight episodes and highlighting eight different performers, each chapter of the series features interviews with hip hop royalty, as well as up-and-comers. All of them are worth watching—just don’t blame me if you fall in love and binge it!
3 27: Gone Too Soon
27: Gone Too Soon features of the few clubs you don’t want to get into: The 27 Club. Its members include Jim Morrison, Amy Winehouse, and Kurt Cobain. Sadly, the roster goes on and on.
With rare footage from each artist’s life and death, the documentary explores the mythology and society’s curious obsession with the phenomenon. Critical reception for this film has been polarizing, to say the least, which speaks to how engrossing the documentary is. Watch 27: Gone Too Soon with your friends—you’ll have plenty to discuss once the credits roll.
2 Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster
What was intended to be a behind-the-scenes rockumentary of the metal band recording their most recent album, Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster evolved into an unfiltered and compelling look into the inner workings of the notorious metal band. Arguably the biggest band in the history of metal music, the rockumentary was coincidentally filmed when Metallica was imploding. The group’s critically panned album, St. Anger, takes a backseat to the emotional interpersonal turmoil during a time when one of the most influential heavy metal bands in the world hit its lowest points.
Spliced with concert clips and exclusive recording studio footage, Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster is riveting as you’re treated to incredible music while acting as a fly on the wall during the metal band’s rockiest period.
1 Avicii: True Stories
In an intimate glimpse into the artist’s life and death, Avicii: True Stories highlights the DJ’s personal life, the impact of superstardom, and the health scares that forced early retirement, before Tim Bergling—aka Avicii—tragically took his own life in April 2018 at the young age of 28.
Regardless of your taste in music, this eye-opening documentary is about so much more than EDM. As much about us and our social media-obsessed society, as it is about Tim, Avicii: True Stories forces us to evaluate how we view celebrities as entities instead of people and the consequences of valuing his assets, art, and preconceived notions about celebrities, at the expense of his life.