After Fyre, MJ and R. Kelly: What Other Music Docs Are Coming in 2019?
Projects focused on D'Angelo, the Jonas Brothers, Linda Ronstadt and Lil Peep will soon join this year's must-see music documentaries.
We’re only in March, and 2019 has already been a watershed year for music docs. It hasn’t always been pleasant: The year began with Hulu’s Fyre Fraud and Netflix’s Fyre, competing docs that viewed the egomaniacal disaster of Fyre Festival through different lenses. Hot takes flew. Ja Rule claimed blamelessness. Fest coordinator Andy King became, er, an unconventional hero. It was only the beginning.
No amount of Fyre could compare to the one-two punch of Surviving R. Kelly and Leaving Neverland, though. These documentaries about the alleged sexual misconduct of R. Kelly and Michael Jackson weren’t just scandalizing -- they were devastating, and culture-shifting. All this public mortar-fire leaves the rest of 2019’s music docs in a weird spot, since it seems practically impossible to stir up as much attention as the explosive revelations of the Jackson and Kelly airings-out.
Still, there’s reason to be optimistic with the upcoming docs that are on the docket. We’re in for a lot of classic rock -- Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Mötley Crüe and more will see the big screen. The recently departed Chris Cornell and Lil Peep will get their cinematic dues. And, yes, we’re in for even more Queen. Here are the music documentaries we're already looking forward to for the rest of the year:
Classic Rock Still Reigns…
The year is set to be jam-packed with classic rock flicks, and the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival is leading the way. The New York City-based spring showcase will premiere a slew of AOR-based docs in 2019. Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation will expand upon the classic 1970 rock-doc for the festival’s 50th anniversary. The Quiet One will profile Bill Wyman, the enigmatic founding bassist of the Rolling Stones.
Outside of Tribeca, the Jimi Hendrix doc Electric Church is in the midst of a theatrical run after its Showtime premiere last year. And while it's not a documentary, hair-metal fans would be well-advised to look out for Netflix’s The Dirt, a biopic based on the misadventures of Mötley Crüe, to drop March 22.
We’d also be remiss to not mention Queen and Adam Lambert’s upcoming doc, The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story, about how the stadium heroes soldiered on after Freddie Mercury’s passing, with American Idol alum Lambert at the helm. No amount of mixed reviews for Bohemian Rhapsody or controversy surrounding its director, Bryan Singer, can tarnish the fact that the public clearly wants more Queen.
Other titles for the indeterminate future include Who the Fuck Is Frank Zappa?, about the idiosyncratic cult rock hero, and a Peter Jackson-helmed doc that promises to restore hours of footage from the the Beatles’ Let It Be sessions.
...And So Do Country and Soul
Billie Holiday’s short life was marked by mercurial genius and tragic circumstance. A doc about her life and career is currently in the works, title TBD.
Meanwhile, Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice will celebrate the legendary country-rock singer with guest spots from Emmylou Harris, Don Henley, Jackson Browne, Dolly Parton and a special performance from Sheryl Crow. Speaking of Dolly, an eight-part series on the Nashville icon -- with each episode themed around one of her classic tunes -- is forthcoming as well.
D’Angelo: Devil’s Pie, also premiering at Tribeca, will peer into the work of the titular R&B performer, who took a decade-long sabbatical from music before returning with his acclaimed 2014 full-length Black Messiah.
Tributes to Those Who Left Us
The year will also see filmed tributes to two talented yet troubled artists. Everybody’s Everything, a doc about the late Lil Peep that's executive produced by legendary director Terrence Malick, will premiere at SXSW this year. A Brad Pitt-directed feature about Soundgarden’s leader Chris Cornell is currently in the works, too, while Latin star Selena Quintanilla is also getting a scripted Netflix series that explores her life and music.
Cornell isn't the only fallen alt-rock figure to be getting the documentary treatment, either. Sublime, a doc about the Long Beach reggae-punk heroes (led by Bradley Nowell, who died just before the band's 1996 commercial breakthrough); Shannon Hoon: All I Can Say, about the late Blind Melon frontman; Mystify: Michael Hutchence, which dives into the life and times of the late INXS singer; and Other Music, about the defunct NYC record store (and featuring Vampire Weekend, the Strokes and more), will all premiere at Tribeca Film Festival.
...And Don't Forget About the Jonas Brothers
It’s not just the old guard and the fallen heroes getting the full-length film treatment this year! Expect a still-untitled, Amazon Prime-helmed doc about the JoBros, described as a "personal, behind the scenes look" at the brothers as they prepare for their first tour since reuniting. What will we learn about the boy band, who just topped the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time with their first single in six years?