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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.

 
 
 

Inspired by and featuring the Psychedelic Furs track ‘Pretty In Pink’, this quintessential John Hughes movie is a story of teenage love, high school troubles and social cliques that's both of-its-time (its time being the '80s) and in thrall to the cosy certainties of '50s America.

The film also features New Order tracks ‘Shell-Shock’, ‘Thieves Like Us (Instrumental)’, ensuring that the soundtrack has aged well, even if the on-screen drama hasn't.

Best Music Moment: Psychedelic Furs – ‘Pretty In Pink’.

Abby Tayleure

 
 
 

From the opening mud squelches onwards this documentary does what all great docs do – makes you wish you were right there in the thick of it.

Composed by Julien ‘Filth And The Fury’ Temple from live footage, interviews and stuff sent in by punters, it’s the ultimate postcard from the world’s greatest festival. It doesn’t claim to cover the sprawling bender in minute detail, rather offers a snapshot of the experience.

Best music moment: Re-arranging the tracks via the interactive options to create your own perfect setlit featuring Paul McCartney, The White Stripes and The Killers.

Tim Chester

 
 
 

Zach Braff chose all the music for his film Garden State, sending a copy of the script with every request for a track to try and persuade the artist that the song was essential for the movie.

Coldplay’s ‘Don’t Panic’, ‘New Slang’ and ‘Caring Is Creepy’ by The Shins and Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Only Living Boy In New York’ all accompany the film.

Nick Drake, Iron and Wine and Bonnie Somerville also feature as the movie – which was filmed over just 25 days - follows actor and waiter Andrew Largeman as he goes back to his hometown when his mother dies.

Best music moment: Sam tells Andrew to listen to ‘New Slang’ by The Shins saying, "You gotta hear this one song — it’ll change your life, I swear."

Abby Tayleure

 
 
 

If you ever wondered why Radiohead went all leftfield and electronic on ‘Kid A’ – rather than taking the baton from U2 as the biggest band in the world – look no further than this on-tour documentary, which captures the full horror of the promotional treadmill that ‘OK Computer’ set them on.

It’s an anti-tour film, exposing the tedium rather than the glamour of being on-the-road.

Moreover, MPIE prefigured Radiohead’s later fondness for unorthodox methods of releasing music: the film is studded with clips of work-in-progress songs, some of which (‘Nude’) didn’t surface in studio form until a decade later.

Best music moment: An early version of ‘How To Disappear Completely’ is pretty devastating.

Luke Lewis

 
 
 

Borrowing its title from one of the greatest tunes of all time, ‘Gimme Shelter’ is one of the essential music documentaries.

Recorded fly-on-the-wall – which seemed revolutionary at the time, honest – it follows the Stones at the height of their ‘70s excess, from playing Madison Square Garden to the unfortunate death of a fan at Altamont. One of the camera operators was an unknown rookie called George Lucas.

Best music moment: ‘Brown Sugar’ live, ‘Wild Horses’ in the studio, ‘Honky Tonk Woman’, ‘Sympathy For The Devil’… it’s one long music moment.
Tim Chester

 
 
 

John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman star in the film that sees violence, comedy, crime and pop culture collide as mobsters, a boxer and a gangster's wife find that their stories inter-link.

The soundtrack was a hit in itself, reaching Number 21 in the US billboard charts. With no score written for the film, Quentin Tarantino chose rock, soul and surf tracks to accompany the movie.

Best Music Moment: Dick Dale’s version of ‘Misirlou’ during the opening credits.

Abby Tayleure

 
 
 

You don’t have to be a rabid Dylanologist to enjoy Martin Scorsese’s high-minded documentary about Bob Dylan’s career between 1961 and 1966.

Sure, it’s enormously reverent – but any fears of fustiness or tedium are expelled by some genuinely illuminating archive material, including newly-discovered colour footage of the infamous “Judas” moment at the Manchester Free Trade Hall concert, May 1966.

Best music moment: For curiosity value (rather than musical quality), the grainy footage of Dylan’s high-school rock band is a highlight.

Luke Lewis

 
 
 

Richard Linklater’s love-note to his mid-70s schooldays pulls of the neat trick of making you nostalgic for a time you (probably) never even lived through.

Even if you’ve never smoked reefer, attended a keg party, or ‘hazed’ a freshman, you’ll still feel a pang of recognition from this heartfelt hymn to discovering the joys of girls and guitars.

Best music moment: When Mitch comes home after losing his virginity, puts his headphones on, and immerses himself in Foghat’s ‘Slow Ride’.

Luke Lewis

 
 
 

The highest-ranking concert movie in our list, Stop Making Sense was shot over the course of three nights at Hollywood's Pantages Theater, during Talking Heads' 1983 ‘Speaking In Tongues’ tour.

What’s noteworthy is how far it deviates from the norms of live performance footage. By largely avoiding crowd shots and quick jump-cuts, the film represented an arty counterpoint to the growing clichés of MTV, which had launched three years previously.

Best music moment: ‘Once In A Lifetime’ - for most of the song’s duration we see only David Byrne, shot in severe black and white.

Luke Lewis

 
 
 

Controversial Ondi Timoner documentary Dig! tracks the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe and Courtney Taylor of the Dandy Warhols over seven years.

Labelled by Newcombe as unfair and “at best a series of punch-ups and mishaps taken out of context”, the film charts the pair's fascinating rivalry - starting from similar backgrounds, the two musicians diverge further and further, Newcombe fading into anguished obscurity while Taylor finds fame and fortune. The resulting tension makes for compelling - yet often painful - viewing.

Best music moment: Courtney's 'Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth' and Anton's 'Not If You Were the Last Dandy on Earth' - what better way to argue than by the medium of song?
Abby Tayleure

 
 
 
 
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