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The best music movies of all time

Lights, Camera, Rock!

Here’s our list of best music movies about bands, artists, trials of the music business and the sheer joy of music.

Sometimes you want the thrill of a live music performance, to see a slice of what exactly happens backstage or to just sing along at the top of your lungs from the best music movies.

Sometimes you just want to stay on the couch.

Here’s our list of best music movies about bands, artists, trials of the music business and the sheer joy of music. 

10 – This Is Spinal Tap: Rob Reiner’s This Is Spinal Tap may be over 30 years old, but it’s searing satire on rock band documentaries has held up as one of the best music movies. The mockumentary (or “Rockumentary” as Reiner calls it) follows semi-ficticious band, Spinal Tap, a once iconic British heaby metal band, on their disappointing tour of America. Best part: when the band gets lost back stage on their way out to perform!

9 – Almost Famous: If you were a sheltered 15-year old aspiring rock journalist in the ‘70s, and Rolling Stone magazine offered you the chance to go on the road with band, would you take it? Of course you would. Almost Famous is the story of what happens when William Miller breaks out from his strict mother’s house and travels with the free-wheeling, dysfunctional band Stillwater. The music in Almost Famous is good, but the adventures are better. The action in Almost Famous is closer to reality than you might initially think — it’s all based on director Cameron Crowe’s experiences traveling with rock bands when he was William’s age. Best part: the sing-along to Tiny Dancer on the tour bus. Chills….

8 – School of Rock: If the premise of School of Rock happened in real life, we’d probably be horrified. Some strange man pretends to be a teacher, and decides to form a band with elementary schoolers? Not so great. But in the movie — well, it’s sublime. Jack Black plays Ned Schneebly, a hyperactive imposter substitute teacher who teaches his class of uptight, academically inclined fifth graders to unlock their inner music potential, and their outer fashion sense. Best part: The band playing Zach’s song at the battle of the bands concert.

7 – Ray: When Ray Charles Robinson is 9 years old, his eyesight begins to deteriorate with no hope of recovery. His mother, who grew up on a sharecropping plantation, is determined to make sure her son can make his way in the world. Ray – played by Jamie Foxx in the biopic — does more than just that. He becomes a renowned pianist and singer, responsible for some of culture’s most enduring soul and R&B songs. In Ray, Foxx brought this (often troubled) legend to life, and got an Oscar in the process. Best part: In the studio recording “Mess Around”

6 – Walk The Line: Walk the Line, which centers on the early life of Johnny Cash, is an exceptional musical biopic. Johnny Cash was born on an Arkansas cotton farm, and eventually became one of the most influential country singers ever. But Walk the Line isn’t just about Johnny Cash’s life – it’s about the love of his life. Walk the Line is made by the electric chemistry between Joaquin Phoenix, who plays Cash, and Reese Witherspoon, who plays June Carter, Cash’s great love and future wife. Best part: Every time Johnny and June sings a duet.

5 – Dreamgirls: In 1981, the musical Dreamgirls landed on Broadway. It followed an all-woman R&B act called the Dreamettes, inspired by the real-life group the Supremes. Most of us, however, probably know Dreamgirls from the 2006 movie starring Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson, and Jamie Foxx. Best part: Jennifer Hudson signing the Effie White track, “And I am Telling You I am Not Going.”

4 – Get Him To The Greek: If Spinal Tap was a spoof on British bands of the ’70s, then Get Him to the Greek lampoons more contemporary British musicians in the vein of Blur and Oasis. In the movie, a hapless record company intern, Aaron Green (Jonah Hill), has three days to bring British rock star Aldous Huxley (Russell Brand) to the Greek theater in L.A. for a concert. Sounds easy, right? Of course it’s not. Aldous is an irresponsible party maniac, and Aaron is pulled into the madness. Best part: Puffy playing a record executive.

3 – Sing Street: Sing Street is a lovely, funny, honest coming-of-age story that also happens to contain some downright jammers. It’s Dublin of the 1980s, and Conor will do anything to escape his broken home life and strict Catholic high school. Like many soulful young men before him, Conor decides to recruit his classmates to form a rock band. They name the band Sing Street as a cheeky reference to their school, Synge Street Christian Brothers Academy. Best part: any time the band makes a music video.

2 – Hard Days Night: It’s hard to imagine just how famous the Beatles were. But watching A Hard Day’s Night gives you a good sense of it. In this very meta film, the four members of the Beatles star in this scripted movie about their life on the road. They mess with nosy reporters, run away from crowds, and enjoy spending time with each other. Best part: the performance of “ If I Fell.”

1 – Straight Outta Compton: Compton, Los Angeles. 1986. Five friends, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, DJ Yella and MC Ren, decide to combine their musical skills into a rap group called N.W.A.. Fame, fortune and fall-outs await. Best part: all of it!


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