While there exist notable documentaries about beloved musicians like Tom Petty, John Lennon and Philip Glass, most of the effort in nonfiction films about music strives to highlight the underrated and under-heard. With the critical and commercial success of Searching for Sugar Man, resurrecting under-appreciated musical personalities has proven to be lucrative, interesting and even (that most dreaded word in music) mainstream.
Many music documentaries this year poised to reveal the Next Great Untold Story about music’s past and present. Sample This! illustrates how one song had an immeasurable influence on the development of hip-hop, while Artifact offers a lens into a music business crumbling apart in the 21st century. Good Ol’ Freda gives a microphone to the woman who connected The Beatles with their fans, while 20 Feet from Stardom places background singers front and center. Meanwhile, The Punk Singer and A Band Called Death show that punk has never been exclusively for angry white men. All in all, 2013 was a rich year for music documentaries.
But never mind the bollocks. Here are five films that 2013 added to this ever-expanding subgenre, all of which deserve a place in the documentary (and musical) canon.