Movies with music? Great. Movies about music? Awesome! Almost Famous, The Blues Brothers, Pitch Perfect – these are all fantastic examples of music themes on the silver screen. Whether or not you seek out music-oriented films, you’re bound to have enjoyed at least one of these three titles at some point.
However, if you consider yourself a music buff, music enthusiast, or even just a fan, we have some news for you: There are tons of amazing movies about music that have been flying under the radar, just waiting for you to discover them!
We’ve picked five under-hyped music movies that we believe are truly outstanding. While none of them achieved big box office numbers, the critics and viewers lucky enough to have seen them are singing their praises!
Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Box Office: $1.6 mil
Ever heard of The Funk Brothers? Would you believe us if we told you they had played on more hit records than The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Elvis, and The Beatles combined?! Well, it’s true, and Standing in the Shadows of Motown tells the story of these unheralded studio musicians from Motown’s Detroit era.
The Funk Brothers reunited for the first time in 30 years for the making of the film, which is part documentary, part live performance. Watch them revisit their past, as well as play alongside artists like Chaka Khan, Ben Harper, and Joan Osborne.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
Box Office: $0.1 mil
This documentary follows two intensely passionate rockers on their quest for stardom. Courtney Taylor, leader of The Dandy Warhols, and Anton Newcombe, frontman for Brian Jonestown Massacre, experience many highs and lows over the course of the seven years it took to shoot the film, with each significant moment unfolding organically in front of the camera.
When The Dandy Warhols finally get their big break, BJM begins a downward spiral as the friendship between Taylor and Newcombe turns into a bitter rivalry. Dig! offers a raw and compelling glimpse of what life is really like when you’re trying to “make it.”
Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
Box Office: $0.6 mil
Anvil is a metal band from Toronto, Canada. Their 1982 album Metal on Metal sold millions of copies, but their success was fleeting. Despite their downward spiral into obscurity, Anvil has continued to play together for over 30 years, relentlessly pursuing what they love. Anvil!
The Story of Anvil documents the band’s history, illustrating something that is a rarity in today’s music industry – a group of guys who do what they want, when they want. Anvil has followed their own script, and they couldn’t be happier.
Sound City (2013)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
Box Office: $0.4 mil
Closed in 2011, Sound City was a recording studio in California’s San Fernando Valley. Big names like Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac, and Tom Petty recorded groundbreaking albums there, and when the studio closed its doors, Dave Grohl purchased its custom analog Neve console.
Sound City follows the former Nirvana member on his quest to reunite the stars who utilized the recording studio in its prime and create a new album using the same Neve console. The documentary features interviews with Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, Neil Young, and many more. And of course, its soundtrack of original songs is unparalleled.
Begin Again (2014)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
Box Office: $16 mil
This fictional film was written and directed by John Carney, who also wrote and directed the critically-acclaimed musical drama Once. Soulful and comedic, Begin Again tells the tale of a struggling singer-songwriter (Keira Knightley) and a down-and-out record executive (Mark Ruffalo) who forge a mutually beneficial bond.
Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine stars alongside Knightley as her ex-boyfriend. The movie’s soundtrack complements the heartwarming story perfectly, evoking summer in New York City with original songs performed by Levine and Knightley.
Next time you’re thinking of heading to the movie theater, save yourself the trip (and some cash!) and check out one of these films instead. You won’t regret it!
By: Alex Holder, Music Dealers