Documentary, Docuseries, 2021, Top 10, List

10 Music Documentaries & Docuseries to Watch in 2021

Looking for a good music documentary to watch for your next movie night? Throughout this year, several riveting films and series related to artists and music have been released theatrically and across streaming services. Want to learn more about your favorite musicians or songs you love? Documentaries and docuseries will give you a far better experience than just looking up stuff online.

Whether they're about music festivals, behind-the-scenes stories, or even about current scandals, these 10 documentaries and docuseries are highly recommended by us. We'll tell you their titles, what they're about, and even supply you with platforms where you can watch!

1. Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

The directorial debut of Roots drummer Questlove, Summer of Soul chronicles the legendary - and somewhat forgotten - 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival that celebrated Black music, culture, and pride. Part educational piece, part concert documentary, the film does a great job at balancing historical facts with never-before-seen footage of moving performances. There's so much information in the background, but it never gets in the way of the good music.

If you're a fan of 60s' and 70s' artists like Sly and the Family Stone, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, and Gladys Knight, Summer of Soul is a must-see. It received both the audience and grand jury awards for Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, so if that doesn't tell you how great this documentary is, we don't know what does.

WHERE TO WATCH: Hulu with subscription

2. Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry

Teen sensation Billie Eilish has had a meteoric rise in recent years. With her hit debut When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? and her new success Happier Than Ever, she's become a big voice for a budding generation of music lovers. If you're looking to learn more about her - particularly about her time creating her first studio album - we recommend checking out her documentary Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry.

Not only is it an honest film about the singer and her struggles, but a loving portrait of Eilish's family and how they work together as a team. Eilish says it best herself at the beginning of the documentary: "our family was just one big f---ing song."

WHERE TO WATCH: Apple TV+ with subscription

3. The Boy From Medellín

In 2019, superstar reggaeton singer J Balvin prepared for a concert in his Colombian hometown of Medellín despite intense political turmoil. This film captures Balvin's life a week before the concert when, due to fan pressure, he is faced with a big question: should he speak up about what's going on in his country, or stay out of the politics?

Not only is The Boy From Medellín a great doc to watch if you're looking to learn more about J Balvin's life story, it has a lot to say about the responsibility of artists in the 21st century. And if you're a fan of reggaeton music, the long-awaited concert at the end of the film will get you dancing out of your couch.

WHERE TO WATCH: Amazon Prime Video, free with a Prime subscription

4. Framing Britney Spears

Confused about what's going on with the Britney Spears conservatorship? This documentary by The New York Times unpacks the whole situation in a way that's easy to understand and very emotional. #FreeBritney!

Framing Britney Spears isn't just about the Y2K pop star's rise, fall, and rise again, it has so much to say about feminism, the toxicity of celebrity culture, and the importance of mental health awareness. The 'framing' in Framing Britney Spears doesn't just relate to how the camera has always captured her tumultuous life story, it also suggests that we, the people of America, are the ones truly to blame for the horrible situation she's in now. And it may be up to us to get her out of it.

WHERE TO WATCH: Hulu with subscription

5. Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil

With a grand premiere at SXSW, Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil answered several questions fans had for years about the pop star's sudden 2018 overdose. How did Demi relapse? What happened to them in the hospital? How did their friends and family react? Dancing with the Devil offers a wide range of perspectives and accounts as it unpacks everything that led up to the near-fatal overdose.

This documentary was released just before Demi's latest album, Dancing with the Devil... The Art of Starting Over. If you're a fan of that record, this film will help you understand its meaning just a little bit better. Additionally, this docuseries has so much to say about drug abuse, mental health, and the exploitation of child stars.

WHERE TO WATCH: Free on YouTube

6. McCartney 3, 2, 1

The Beatles are the most legendary rock band in history, and songwriter Paul McCartney was one of the driving forces behind the group's success. In this docuseries, American record producer Rick Rubin and McCartney team up to talk about the musician's early life, voyage with the Beatles, and secrets behind the band's and his own greatest hits.

We love McCartney 3, 2, 1 because of how digestible each 30-minute episode is, how much behind-the-scenes information is divulged by McCartney, and Rick Rubin's relatable enthusiasm as a host. You may think you know everything there is to know about McCartney and the Beatles, but this docuseries will shock you with how many fun little tidbits you've never heard before.

WHERE TO WATCH: Hulu with subscription

7. Behind the Music

Behind the Music originally aired on VH1 between 1997-2014, but has since been revived by streaming service Paramount+. For those who don't know, Behind the Music takes a close look at some of the world's favorite artists - like Huey Lewis, Ricky Martin, and J-Lo - and documents their successes, as well as the problems they've faced in their careers.

Besides the three artists mentioned above, other musicians featured in the new reboot include Eminem, Duran Duran, Busta Rhymes, Fat Joe, Remy Ma, Bret Michaels, New Kids on the Block, and LL Cool J.

WHERE TO WATCH: Paramount+ with subscription

8. Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell

The Notorious B.I.G. took the 90s' hip hop scene by storm before his tragic death in 1997, when he was only 24 years old. This doc isn't afraid to get up close and personal about his life in Brooklyn, his time dealing crack cocaine, and how becoming a father helped him focus on career success before his untimely shooting.

Featuring interviews with Christopher Wallace's own mother and rare footage from Biggie's friend Damion "D-Roc" Butler, this documentary is very intimate in its approach and shows the many facets to Biggie Smalls' personality - as well as his genius.

WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix with subscription

9. Tina

This documentary offers an energetic and inspirational look into Tina Turner's life story. Tina perfectly shows how the American-Swiss singer overcame impossible odds in order to reach superstardom, and truly honors its subject rather than listing facts about her life from a distance.

In addition to a stunning amount of archival footage spanning 60 years, Tina includes interviews with Angela Bassett, Oprah Winfrey, journalist Kurt Loder, Tina - The Tina Turner Musical creator Katori Hall, and husband and former record executive Erwin Bach, among others.

WHERE TO WATCH: HBO Max with subscription, as well as iTunes, Vudu, Google Play Movies, and Amazon Video

10. P!nk: All I Know So Far

Ever since she had her breakthrough moment in the early 2000s, P!nk has become an icon of female strength for music lovers everywhere. P!nk: All I Know So Far offers a behind-the-scenes look at the rock star's personal life as she tries to balance family and traveling, just before her first Wembley Stadium performance on 2019's Beautiful Trauma World Tour.

This is certainly a flick about juggling motherhood and a career, and P!nk herself has described this film as a "passion project." It was directed by filmmaker Michael Gracey, who many know from the film The Greatest Showman. If you're a fan of P!nk and her fun personality, All I Know So Far is a must-see.

WHERE TO WATCH: Amazon Prime Video, free with a Prime subscription

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Article Image: A black and white publicity photo featuring members of Sly and the Family Stone, smiling at the camera while snapping their fingers in 1968. (Epic Records, Daedalus Management, and William Morris Agency, Inc. [Available through Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons.)

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About Kathryn Milewski

  • New Jersey