Movies

Staying In Amid Coronavirus Scare? Watch These Music & Concert Films to Escape

Justin Bieber: Seasons
Courtesy of YouTube Originals

A still from Justin Bieber: Seasons.

It was the empowering motivator known as Lizzo who ordered us to "kick off your shoes, take a deep breath, time to focus on you." No chance she was referring to self-isolation amid a frightening health pandemic on “Feelin’ Good,” but you know what? Times are tough. Let’s just go with it.

Indeed, just because the live music industry is a casualty of the coronavirus doesn’t mean you must miss out on the experience of seeing your favorite artists perform.

Sit back -- you’re home anyway, no? -- mentally escape the madness, and bask in all the fascinating and hopelessly watchable music documentaries currently available at your (sanitized) fingertips. This is your opportunity to glimpse at unobstructed and unfiltered views of your music royalty -- and for the concert docs, you get the added bonuses of clean bathrooms with functional soap dispensers along with water that doesn’t cost $8 a pop. Starting to feel good now? A little? Maybe?

Justin Bieber: Seasons (2020)

Justin Bieber may just be the oldest 26-year-old alive. In this introspective 10-episode series, he details everything from his drug-use history (he started smoking weed around age 12) to his marriage to Hailey Baldwin to his battle with Lyme disease...  all as he gears up for the release of his fifth album, Changes. Binge this baby. (YouTube)

Miss Americana (2020)

Wholesome, people-pleasing Taylor Swift can’t come to the phone right now. Or ever again. The biggest pop star on the planet let director Lana Wilson behind the curtain to capture the recording of her Lover album. In between, she sounds off on Kanye West, politics and her Reputation Grammys snub. Pair this with the 2018 concert film, Taylor Swift: Reputation Stadium Tour(Netflix)

BTS: World Tour ‘Love Yourself’ New York (2019)

Hey, look, it’s BTS from the comfort of your own home! Here’s your front-row seat to the K-pop group’s sold-out summer 2019 concert from New York's Citi Field, featuring 32 minutes of behind-the-scenes bonus footage. (Amazon)

David Crosby: Remember My Name (2019)

Regrets? David Crosby has more than a few. In the twilight of his life, the now-sober counterculture icon is in reflection mode as he traverses through Laurel Canyon. Turns out he was not a fan of Jim Morrison. He loved Joni Mitchell, though. (Starz)

Duran Duran: There’s Something You Should Know (2019)

As guitarist Nick Rhodes of the arena-filling new wave act puts it at the beginning of this retrospective, “Good songs. That’s what it was about.” You’ll hear most of them in this 58-minute look at the British band’s success over the past 40 years. Lead singer Simon LeBon still looks fab, FWIW. (Showtime)

Lil Peep: Everybody’s Everything (2019)

In 2017, the emo-rapper known as Lil Peep was found dead on his tour bus. He had just turned 21. Using interviews from loved ones, this is a heartbreaking look at how an impressive trajectory to fame proved impossible to sustain. (Netflix)

Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé (2019)

Coachella is postponed but Beychella lives on! Written and co-directed by Mrs. Knowles-Carter herself, this is an in-depth look at Beyoncé's epic pair of concert sets in 2018 -- a deeply symbolic production that required an eight-month rehearsal process. (Netflix)

Hitsville: The Making of Motown (2019)

If you can’t sleep at night, try counting all the hits that emanated out of Berry Gordy’s Detroit music factory in its heyday. The 90-year-old pioneer shares his rock-solid memories, as do Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and more. (Showtime)

Ariana Grande: Dangerous Woman Diaries (2018)

Ariana Grande filmed this extended “love letter” to her fans during her 2017 tour and recording of her album Sweetener. The docuseries features footage of her in the studio with Pharrell; on the set of the “God Is a Woman” video; and rehearsing for her MTV VMA performance. Then-fiancé Pete Davidson appears in the background of the first episode. (YouTube)

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (2019)

Oh, how it hurts the heart to know that Linda Ronstadt can no longer use her glorious singing voice because of the effects of her Parkinson’s Disease. Nonetheless, it’s good to see her looking and sounding strong as she describes her fascinating path to stardom. The Eagles owe her the world. (Amazon Prime)

Mystify: Michael Hutchence (2019)

This is an insightful look at the enigmatic INXS frontman, who died in 1997 at age 37. In a brilliant example of “show not tell,” his life is told through vintage footage as opposed to the usual assortment of family and friends sharing memories. The result is a haunting, nuanced portrait of a troubled soul. (Amazon Prime)

Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (2019)

This mesmerizing (and very different) follow-up to Scorsese’s No Direction Home combines footage from Bob Dylan’s 57-show tour in 1975-76 across North America as well as some outtakes from the Dylan-directed 1978 film Renaldo and Clara. Featuring a cameo from modern-day Dylan too. (Netflix)

Lynyrd Skynyrd: If I Leave Here Tomorrow (2019)

Featuring interviews and half-century-old home movies, the film traces the ongoing Shakespearean-like saga of the Southern rock stalwarts. Few details are spared, including a harrowing recollection of the 1977 plane crash that killed three members of the band. (Showtime)

Simply Complicated (2017)

Demi Lovato’s authenticity is on full display here. In Part 1, she details her rise to stardom and struggles with addiction, and her bipolar and eating disorders. The second half incorporates performances, as she touches on her love life and her newfound martial arts passion. (YouTube Premium)

Gaga: Five Foot Two (2017)

Entertaining things come in diminutive packages. Revolving around the recording of her album Joanne and her Super Bowl halftime performance (“I want to do the opposite of what everyone thinks I’m going to do,” she declares), this project highlights Lady Gaga's creative process, her health issues and relentless work ethic. (Netflix)

Amazing Grace (2018)

Be a fly-on-the-wall as Aretha Franklin sings from her soul at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972, moving an audience -- that included Mick Jagger -- to tears. Franklin blocked the concert film (directed by Oscar-winning director Sydney Pollack) for decades because of audio issues; her family finally relented after her 2018 death. (Hulu)

Quincy (2018)

Quincy Jones has been an icon on the music scene for so long that, as evidenced in this doc, he greats an awestruck Paul McCartney with a fatherly hug. Jones shares insight into his amazing life -- from growing up in Chicago during the Depression to producing Michael Jackson -- in a biography directed by his daughter, actress Rashida Jones. (Netflix)

Echo in the Canyon (2018)

Los Angeles, 1967 to 1969. That’s the ground covered in a historical, if not geographical, look at the once-thriving folk-rock music scene that included the Byrds, the Mamas and Papas and Buffalo Springfield. A melancholic highlight: de facto host Jakob Dylan hangs with the great Tom Petty in a guitar shop. (Netflix)

Katy Perry: Will You Be My Witness? (2017)

Five years after her revealing Part of Me concert film, Katy Perry gave fans a behind-the-scenes look at her live-stream event during which she talked to fans, performed songs from Witness and talked to celebrity pals such as RuPaul and Mario Lopez. (YouTube Premium)

The Defiant Ones (2017)

Respect your roots with this four-part series that tracks the individual successes of N.W.A co-founder Dr. Dre and producer Jimmy Iovine, who ultimately teamed up to create Beats Electronics and make gazillions. Eminem, Stevie Nicks and Bono are among the talking heads. (HBO Now)

Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids (2016)

Justin Timberlake enlisted Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) to chronicle his 20/20 Experience World Tour. Recorded in Las Vegas during the final stop on his world tour, the name is in reference to his 25-piece live band that performed alongside him. (Netflix)

One Direction: This Is Us (2013)

Once upon a time, Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson were a boy band known as One Direction who performed sold-out shows and yukked it up together around a campfire. Here’s the visual proof. (Amazon)

David Bowie: The Last Five Years (2017)

As the title suggests, this is a detailed look at Bowie’s life and musical process before his death in 2016. The movie toggles back and forth as it draws on connections between his earlier work in “Fame” and “Space Oddity” to the lyrics on his final two albums, The Next Day and Blackstar, as well as his play Lazarus. (HBO)

Whitney: Can I Be Me (2017)

Two Whitney Houston documentaries — both of which charted her rise and fall — have premiered in the past three years. This one did not have family authorization, but thanks to a bevy of clips, fans still get to hear that soaring and timeless music. (Showtime)

Amy (2015)

Before Adele, there was Amy Winehouse. And when the British chanteuse died in 2011, she left behind an award-winning body of neo-jazz-tinged work. This intimate film explores Winehouse’s childhood (wow, those home videos!) and how burgeoning fame amplified her struggles with addiction. (Netflix)

Keith Richards: Under the Influence (2015)

If you believe Keith Richards, the sex-drugs-booze portion of his life is in the rear view. But the man still owns the rock n' roll. The musician is front and center here, chronicling classic Rolling Stones anecdotes and showing footage from the recording of his 2015 solo record Crosseyed Heart. (Netflix)

History of the Eagles Part One and Two (2013)

Imagine a Behind the Music episode multiplied by 100 in terms of tension, in-fighting and drama. All the past and present members of the Eagles (including Glenn Frey, RIP) give their versions of the band’s record-making journey in the fast lane. The must-see Part One goes through the 1980 split; Part Two is the curtain-call. (iTunes)

The Last Waltz (1978)

Scorsese’s rollicking rockumentary mixes footage from The Band’s epic farewell 1976 Thanksgiving concert in San Francisco with backstage interviews, featuring performances by super-fans Dylan, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton and more. Not to sound like an infomercial, but catch this classic for free on Amazon Prime now before it leaves the service on March 31. (Amazon Prime)

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