50 AWESOME MUSIC MOVIES

 

To celebrate the launch of NME.COM/movies we've put together our pick of the greatest music films ever made.

And we're not just talking about rockumentaries and biopics – this list also encompasses any movie that is defined by its soundtrack. These are films for music fans to love.

Hence you'll find Trainspotting rubbing shoulders with Control, Almost Famous celebrated alongside Meeting People Is Easy.

So please, take your seat and grab an oversize tub of popcorn as we count down the 50 best music movies ever to grace the big screen.

What have we missed? Should 8 Mile be higher than 30 Century Man? Have your say now here.

 
 
 

The best music movie that most people have never seen – largely because it’s not available on DVD – this charmingly haphazard documentary captures the leading lights of the US glam-metal scene – Poison, WASP et al - just as it was starting to slide into self-parody.

Featuring an endless parade of drunken, semi-coherent rock star idiots, the viewer is left with an inescapable impression of: “This is why grunge had to happen.”

Best music moment: The Megadeth footage rocks fairly hard, but it’s the rambling interviews that you’ll enjoy the most.

Luke Lewis

 
 
 

Here’s a neat concept: borrow a bunch of video cameras, dispense them to 50 super-fans at a live show and give them one instruction: “Just keep filming”.

Frame-perfect editing of the ensuing hundreds of hours of footage ensures that this innovative “fan’s eye view” (including one punter’s comic rush to and from a urinal) of a Beastie Boys show at Madison Square Garden is unlike any other live DVD you’ll ever see.

Best music moment: Cameo appearances include Doug E. Fresh and DMC (of Run DMC). Oh, and Ben Stiller rapping along with his missus.

David Moynihan

 
 
 

Listening to their music is like being thrust into the thumping heart of a great, demonic robot. So it’s only fitting that this raucous documentary encapsulates the wild, strobe-infested days of French DJ duo Xavier and Gaspard on tour.

Their Led Zeppelin-esque adventures with guns, groupies, cops and million-dollar mansions may have been ‘accentuated’ for the camera, but the result is still a thrilling slice of rock ‘n’ roll that makes you want to go out tonight and get utterly obliterated.

Plus, it’s funny, fast-paced and sexy. What’s not to like?

Best Music Moment: Xavier serenades an bemused Anthony Kiedis with a bizarre rendition of 'Under The Bridge'.
David Moynihan

 
 
 

The video accompaniment to Neil Young’s classic 1979 live album of the same name, this film really needs a DVD release.

Capturing Young at his creative peak, where shows would veer from electric to acoustic at the drop of a pick, this is one of the definitive concert films.

Best music moment: ‘Like A Hurricane’ performed like a, well, hurricane.

Tim Chester

 
 
 

Gotta give it to those Vice documentary guys. From True Norwegian Black Metal through to the more recent Guide To Liberia, they know how to consistently produce some of the smartest, most balls-out filmmaking online.

Flying into the Baghdad war zone to trail Iraq’s only heavy metal band Acrassicauda, their heart-in-mouth mission is best summed up by presenter (and Vice founder) Suroosh Alvi: “This is risky, it’s dangerous. People would say that it’s really fucking stupid for us to be doing this. But, y’know, heavy metal rules.”

Best music moment: Watching Acrassicauda put their lives on the line to rock out live: “Most of our fans are either dead or out of this country. They just disappeared.”


David Moynihan

 
 
 

Motown's house band The Funk Brothers have played on more number-one hits than The Beatles, Elvis, The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys combined.

However, it took this stunning 2002 documentary to pull them out, blinking, into the limelight to get the credit they deserve, for the likes of 'The Tears Of A Clown' and 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine'.

Best music moment: The modern day Funk Brothers hooking up with Chaka Khan for 'What's Going On'.

Tim Chester

 
 
 

There’s an argument that Woodstock – the festival – would never have accrued so much cultural and historical significance, had it not been for Woodstock the movie, which won an Best Documentary Oscar in 1970.

Certainly, nothing makes a rock show seem more important than a feature-length film (edited by Martin Scorsese, among others).

Forty years on, some of the hippy-dippy talking head stuff can feel a bit directionless – but the live performances still stand up, in particular Sly And The Family Stone’s can’t-tear-your-eyes-away rendition of ‘I Want To Take You Higher’.

Best music moment: The aforementioned Sly Stone.

Luke Lewis

 
 
 

Based on the book American Hardcore: A Tribal History, this is the definitive documentary on the fiercely politicized movement that threw up such incendiary bands as Bad Brains, Black Flag and Minor Threat in the early-mid 80s, and – mysteriously – ended up mutating so far, we ended up twenty years later with Owl City.

If bald heads, screaming, tattoos and “beatdowns” are your thing, then… well, you’ve almost certainly already seen this.

Best music moment: Hard to pick one song, but the Minor Threat footage provides the biggest fist in the face, sonically speaking.

Luke Lewis

 
 
 

This being a Cameron Crowe film, Singles took the self-lacerating, counter-cultural rage of grunge and made it as safe and saccharine as an episode of Friends - which incidentally launched two years later, and surely took a few tips from this film, with its cast of quirky-yet-clean-cut young apartment-dwellers.

But it’s not quite as much a betrayal of the scene as purists made out at the time (Kurt Cobain hated it, for example). After all, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains all get cameos, and there’s even a reference to Mudhoney - hardly your usual, sugar-coated Hollywood fare.

Best music moment: The brief blast of Alice In Chains’ ‘Would?’, surely one the heaviest songs ever to appear in a mainstream rom-com.

Luke Lewis

 
 
 

Martin Scorsese’s film captures The Band’s 1976 farewell concert at San Franscisco’s Winterland Ballroom – but thanks to a host of special guests (Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan), it also documents, more broadly, American folk-rock in its high pomp.

The gig was a debauched affair, with Scorsese as well as the musicians indulging in heavy cocaine use backstage. Legend has it a large lump of coke – visibly hanging from Neil Young’s nose – had to be edited out in post-production.

Best music moment: ‘The Weight’ takes some beating.

Luke Lewis

 
 
 
 
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