Fed up with staying at home and jamming? Here are some Netflix documentaries about music that will blow your mind. There are so many flicks out there about bands and artists that you probably have never heard of, but which are definitely worth your screen time. To make it easier, we highlight a few. If you’re not into Netflix, that’s okay, we also went snooping around on Amazon Prime. These are the best six we found so far.
Looking for Netflix documentaries to broaden your musical horizons? You’ve come to the right place. In this blog post you’ll find three gems that you can check out on the famous streaming service. More of an Amazon Prime fan? No worries! We have three documentaries from that platform as well. Enjoy!
Taylor Swift: Miss Americana – Netflix
“Throughout my whole career, label executives would just say: ‘A nice girl doesn’t force her opinions on people. A nice girl smiles and waves, and says thank you.’ I became the person everyone wanted me to be.” It ain’t easy being a pop star, and it definitely is hard to be presented as a person that’s not actually who you are.
In this documentary, Taylor Swift tells her story of emancipation. How she tore apart the image of the perfect American girl, and took a political stand with the risk of losing her fans and destroying her career. In the end it’s best to be yourself no matter what, yes even if president Trump tweets that he likes you less.
Gaga: Five Foot Two – Netflix
In the Academy award winning movie A Star is Born we see how Bradley Cooper’s character Jackson is struggling with addiction and mental health issues due to his job as a musician. The song “Shallow” also elaborates on this matter. In an interview Lady Gaga says that these problems are very real in the music business, and we should not underestimate them.
She knows because the famous pop icon struggled herself with mental health issues. This might be one of the most raw Netflix documentaries you’ve seen about the life of a star. As fans we only see the glitter and the glamour, but when the lights go out, even the indestructible Lady Gaga falls apart.
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool – Netflix
Now that we’re on the subject of depression, and addiction… Miles Davis is the godfather of the Cool genre in jazz. A style that in the words of Bruce Lee: “Is a style with no style”. Of course the martial artist was talking about Jeet Kune Do, but the idea is the same. Miles Davis changed the way people were listening to, and thinking about music and jazz in particular.
This is one of those Netflix documentaries where you sit back and watch a whole new world unfold before you. That’s if you don’t know much about Davis’ work. If you do, this movie is probably even more fun, because you’ll learn stuff about Miles Davis that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
808 – Amazon Prime
Often when a new musical generation sees the light of day, it’s due to a technological breakthrough in sound. Think about it, if Bartolomeo Cristofori hadn’t invented the piano in 1700, we would never have had Beethoven piano sonatas, wunderkind Franz Liszt, or Alicia Keys and Elton John for that matter. One technological invention changed the world of music as we knew it. As we go into the future we see the development of amplifiers, electric guitars, and the dawn of electronic music.
The latter one has a universe of its own, and one very important aspect is a little machine that sound engineer Roland invented in the 80’s — the 808 drum machine. The Roland 808 changed the world of music as we know it. Don’t take it from us, just check out this documentary where artists like David Guetta, Africa Bombaata, the Beastie Boys, and other awesome musicians tell you why.
A Band Called Death – Amazon Prime
Sometimes the world isn’t ready for a certain kind of sound. Sometimes the industry isn’t ready for a certain kind of musician creating a sound that already is big in the mainstream. Combine these two aspects, and you have the fundamentals of the story of A Band Called Death. A young group of Afro-american brothers that dedicated their lives to playing rock ‘n roll in a time where that was considered “white boys’ music”.
Thank God that Death recorded their music. After they went from record label to record label, and got rejected every time, they just saved the master tapes and waited for the right moment. After decades of catching dust in an attic that moment finally came in 2012.
Sound City – Amazon Prime
The Roland 808 changed music as we knew it, but sometimes new doesn’t mean better. In a world where you don’t even have to be able to play an instrument to compose, record, and distribute a record, it’s hard to remember that once upon a time there were actual studios where artists went to create. Some studios were even famous for their specific sound. Here’s a question: what do the records Nirvana’s Nevermind, Guns ‘n Roses Appetite for Destruction, Johnny Cash’s Unchained, and Tom Petty’s Greatest Hits have in common?
Any idea? They’re most definitely not the same genre. Alright, here’s another hint: Neil Young’s After the Goldrush. Still oblivious? Okay we’ll just go ahead and spit it out then. All these albums were recorded at the same place. In Sound City Studios to be more precise. So why is this place so special? Just check out this documentary, and find out for yourself. Spoiler alert: the nicest guy in rock ‘n roll Dave Grohl is a leading star in this flick. Enjoy the show, and if rock ‘n roll isn’t your thang, just try one of the other Amazon Prime or Netflix documentaries we highlighted. Happy jamming!