Music fuels our soul and keeps us sane. It is the air we breathe and the sounds that help us cope. What better way to spend the weekend than by watching some of the best music documentaries of 2020. From rock to K-Pop to new school to old school, these documentaries will bring you closer to the music icons of today, yesterday and the future of sound.
69: THE SAGA OF DANNY HERNANDEZ
Part investigative documentary, part real-life gangster movie, 69: THE SAGA OF DANNY HERNANDEZ unpacks the life of polarizing rap sensation and internet troll Tekashi69. One of the most controversial figures in contemporary pop culture, 69 repeatedly broke the internet with his sensationalist music videos and social media beefs before infamously testifying against Brooklyn gang the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods in a landmark trial. Director Vikram Gandhi (KUMARÉ, BARRY) gets up close and personal with the neighborhood locals who knew 69 when he was still just DannyHernandez—before the hard-core persona and the face tattoos—to chronicle his meteoric rise and fall from fame and probe the harsh extremes of addiction to fame in the digital era.
69: THE SAGA OF DANNY HERNANDEZ is directed by Vikram Gandhi. Produced by Vikram Gandhi of Prophets, Jeremy Falson and Jude Harris and executive produced by Van Toffler, Floris Bauer and David Gale of Gunpowder & Sky.
Taylor Swift comes from a generation of pop stars who’ve never had much of an “offstage” component to their careers. They expose themselves constantly, on social media and in their songs. Yet Miss Americana is still genuinely revealing. Lana Wilson spent a few years with Swift, during a time when she was moving into new phases with her sound and public persona. This film is about an idol trying to figure out how to use her influence wisely; but it’s also about the difficulties of wielding a strong voice in an era when fans and haters alike gather on the internet to dissect and question everything.
You’ll need to carve out some time in your schedule to watch all of Hip-Hop Evolution, a 16-part series that’s been spread across four seasons. But this project is worth the effort. Each episode has a theme and purpose: whether it’s describing a subgenre or covering a key moment in the history of rap. A lot of the feature documentaries about hip-hop remain stuck in the ’80s and ’90s; but Hip-Hop Evolution presses on into the 2000s, making room for the “Dirty South” sound, the experiments of the Neptunes crew, the controversies surrounding the mixtape revolution and more.
Beastie Boys Story
The story of 3 friends who inspired each other and the world. Watch Beastie Boys Story, a Spike Jonze live documentary, now on the Apple TV app. Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz tell you an intimate, personal story of their band and 40 years of friendship in this live documentary experience directed by their longtime friend and collaborator and former hall monitor, Spike Jonze.
BLACKPINK: LIGHT UP THE SKY
Proving that music knows no borders or language barriers, BLACKPINK: LIGHT UP THE SKY offers a personal look at the four members of BLACKPINK, from their years as trainees to their current global success as the most popular K-pop girl group of all time. Watch BLACKPINK: LIGHT UP THE SKY globally on Netflix. Record-shattering Korean girl band BLACKPINK tell their story — and detail the hard-fought journey of the dreams and trials behind their meteoric rise.
Shawn Mendes: In Wonder
Over the course of a world tour, this unguarded documentary follows Shawn Mendes as he opens up about his stardom, relationships and musical future.
(Amazon Prime Video)
Billie Holiday had one of the greatest voices of all time. She was a woman of breath-taking talent and global popularity while also stirring controversy. She started a notable rebellion singing “Strange Fruit” which exposed the realities of Black life in America and earned her powerful enemies. Raw, emotional and brutally honest, Billie is filled with incredible, unheard testimonies from musical greats like Charles Mingus, Tony Bennett, Sylvia Syms and Count Basie.” BILLIE is the story of the singer who changed the face of American music, and the journalist who died trying to tell it.
Biography: The Nine Lives of Ozzy Osbourne
The documentary traces Ozzy’s life from his childhood in poverty and time in prison, to fronting legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Black Sabbath and successful Grammy Award-winning solo career, to one of rock’s elder statesmen and a loveable 21st century television dad. The two-hour documentary explores how Ozzy has continually reinvented himself and his career to propel himself toward greater success.
As Ozzy turns 70, he reflects on the intimate details of his successes, failures, and his unique ability for survival and perseverance—including never-before-seen interviews about his recent Parkinson’s diagnosis.
The documentary, a selection of the 2020 SXSW Film Festival, also features interviews with Sharon, Kelly and Jack Osbourne as well as friends and fellow musicians including Rick Rubin, Ice-T, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Jonathan Davis, Post Malone and more.