7 popstar music documentaries to stream now
As Olivia Rodrigo releases her Disney+ movie about 'Sour', here are some more deep dives into our fave pop icons.
It’s always compelling when we get a glimpse behind the curtain of the world of pop stardom via a music documentary. They offer an insight into the life of people beloved the world over, but still often show us the baggage and loneliness that shapes their lives too.
There’s a few documentaries about some of our favourite popstars about to drop. One unpacking Olivia Rodrigo’s stratospheric rise to pop stardom, Driving Home 2 U: A Sour Film, debuts today on Disney+, whilst Charli XCX’s documentary, Charli XCX: Alone Together, on her seminal 2020 lockdown album, will be hitting UK cinemas this April. There’s even talks that, after endless unapproved documentaries about her conservatorship case, Britney is reportedly working on a movie that will finally tell her story from her own perspective.
But while we hold our breath waiting for that to drop, and in celebration of Olivia’s doc debut, here are seven music documentaries currently on streaming platforms from some of our favourite artists of the moment.
Widely considered the greatest modern concert film (at least by us), Beyoncé’s Homecoming follows the legendary artist's journey to that 2018 Coachella performance. Featuring clips from the show itself alongside backstage clips and interviews with the singer as she reckons with the weight of being the first Black female artist to headline the renowned stage, Homecoming is also more than just a concert film. It’s an ode to Black excellence, with quotes and audio from African American thought leaders throughout history that come together to celebrate one of the most historic cultural moments of the 21st century: Beychella. Watch it now on Disney+.
In Bed With Madonna, 1991
This intimate insight into Madonna’s famed 1990 Blonde Ambition Tour is already a certifiable piece of music documentary history. Perhaps at points it's a bit performative, but that is, after all what we love and expect from the most controversial popstar of the 20th century. In her usual coy and flirtatiously antagonistic way, the “Like A Prayer” singer opens up about her family, sex and relationships as she tries to hilariously pin down actor Antonio Banderas, and almost gets arrested for on-stage masturbation all while getting on the bad side of the Pope. Iconic behaviour tbh. Watch it now on BBC iPlayer or Amazon Prime.
This is Paris, 2020
So it might have been sixteen years since Paris Hilton made pop history with her debut and only album Paris and its iconic singles “Stars Are Blind” and “Nothing In This World”. But since then, The Simple Life star has amassed a major name for herself in the world of house music, reportedly becoming the highest paid female DJ in the world. In this movie, the star, who is usually guarded by a carefully crafted bimbo persona, opens up ahead of a huge gig in Ibiza. Discussing 00s paparazzi culture, the abuse she faced at religious camps as a teen and how the two have impacted her relationships and ability to let people see the real her, this unexpectedly raw documentary can be watched on YouTube.
Miss Americana, 2020
This documentary was perfectly timed for a metamorphic moment in the career of Taylor Swift. After 2017’s Reputation acted as a middle finger to the tabloid media and Kanye West, Taylor gained a new confidence to speak up for herself, for the things she believed in and fight for artistic ownership of their own music. Miss Americana explores the time period during which she takes on Apple Music, the DJ who sexually assaulted her, and for the first time becomes vocal about her politics. As Taylor re-records her past six albums to take back control of her music, this documentary, available to watch on Netflix, showcases how the star got to this point. It also has its very own, very good yet oft-forgotten Taylor song during the end credits.
From Asif Kapadia — director of the Diego Maradona documentary — and A24, is this lauded look at the life and death of beloved British artist Amy Winehouse. Covering everything from her childhood years through to her debut album Frank (2003) and the seminal Back To Black (2006), the documentary respectfully make space to unpack her relationships, struggles with bulimia and addictions she faced throughout. Now streaming on Apple TV, Amy premiered at Cannes Film Festival before going on to win BAFTA, Oscar and Grammy awards. It also gave Amy her second posthumous “Best British Female” nomination at The Brits.
Janet Jackson, 2022
Janet Jackson’s documentary couldn’t have come at a more poignant moment. The three-year project was released at a time when we are re-evaluating the treatment of 90s and 00s celebrities such as Britney and Amy Winehouse by the public, the tabloid press and the music industry. The unapologetically sexually-empowered Janet was one of those icons too, unfairly ostracised after the infamous Superbowl incident. In this four-part docuseries, available to stream on NowTV, the youngest child of the famed Jackson family opens up about her childhood and being forced into a popstar career, before finding her own path again.
Driving Home 2 U: A Sour Film, 2022
Has anyone had quite as meteoric a rise as Olivia Rodrigo? A year ago today the High School Musical: The Musical: The Series singer released her debut album Sour and stormed the charts with its emo revival, pop-punk nostalgia, and Taylor Swift and Lorde inspired songs. It broke records that had long been held by The Beatles. This Disney+ documentary follows the production of that history-making album and Olivia’s whirlwind year since, one that has cemented her as the most exciting popstar of the decade thus far.