5 Music Documentaries About Iconic Women

Forget, just for one second, about your list of action-packed dramas, comedies and new movies to watch. Here are 5 music documentaries about iconic women you need to watch right now.

Selena (1997)

Who else but Jennifer Lopez to play young starlet, Selena Quintanilla-Pérez (Selena) in a biographical film about the Mexican-American singer, songwriter, spokesperson, model, actress, and fashion designer who was, unfortunately, shot by her friend and former manager of her fashion boutiques — Selena Etc— at only twenty-three years old. One of the most celebrated Mexican-american performers of the 20th century, Selena’s contribution to music and fashion crowned her as the “queen of Tejano music” in a male-dominated industry, changing the way people saw and heard Latin music. Selena also regularly took time off her tours, recording sessions and concerts to help numerous charities and organisations like Toys for Tots, D.A.R.E, also giving back to her local community by hosting a series of talks in schools about the importance of education, raising awareness about domestic violence against women and so much more. She was such a key figure in her community that her untimely death sent waves through the public, attract more than 60,000 mourners at the funeral to grieve the death of their “Mexican Madonna”.

Gaga: Five Foot Two (2017)

Behind the moniker of Lady Gaga lies the woman lesser known — Stefani Joanne Angelina Germonotta. Famously known for her catchy tracks and outlandish costumes, Gaga: Five Foot Two explores the singer-songwriter as a performer both on and off stage, whether it’s working on her music in the studio or at unwinding at home. Named ‘Performer of the Year’ by in 2015, it is undeniable that Lady Gaga is the pop-culture icon of our time. Who else has 7 million song downloads in the bag? The Netflix original documentary by Banksy filmmaker, Chris Moukarbel, gives viewers an all access pass into her personal troubles, family life and how they all contribute to her art and her journey as Lady Gaga from Poker Face to Joanne.

Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991)

“In Bed with Madonna” is one of the singer-songwriter’s many short films documenting the pivotal moments in her career through her critically acclaimed Blonde Ambition Tour, crowned ‘The greatest concert of the 1990s’ by Rolling Stone Magazine. Everything about that concert was meticulously planned and thought about — from the show-stopping cone bra designed by Jean Paul Gaultier (which you can bid for, if you have $52,000 to spare) down to the sets, divided into five themes ‘Metropolis, Religious, Dick Tracy, Art Deco and Encore’, essentially elevating and reshaping a ‘concert’ by combining her music with fashion, broadway and performance art. The film takes viewers on an all-rounded experience of the Madonna (and essentially her then relationship with then-boyfriend Warren Beatty during the Blonde Ambition Tour, initially named “Like a Prayer World Tour”, through director Alek Keshishian’s 250 hours of film condensed into a series of performance clips and behind-the-scenes shots.

Amy (2015)

Winning the Academy Award for best documentary feature at the 2016 Oscars (along many, many more), ‘Amy’ presents an intimate insight into the life and times of British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse who tragically passed away in 2011. The documentary, widely known as being a “tragic masterpiece”, takes you on a journey of Winehouse’s road to fame starting with the success of her debut Album, Frank (2003) and second and unfortunately final album ‘Back to Black’ (2006) and everything in between — her eating disorder, inexplicable love for music, troubling relationships, family life and her controversial relationship with the media.

What happened, Miss Simone? (2015)

Directed by Liz Garbus, the 2015 film combines previously archival footage of American singer, Pianist and activist Nina Simone, most famously known for her soulful and showstopping tunes from blues and jazz to R&B and pop. “What happened, Miss Simone”, inspired by a quote from Maya Angelou, is a poignant reflection of her career lensed by Liz Garbus with the help of her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, who was named the film’s executive producer. Regarded as one of the 20th century’s most influential recording artists, Simone’s flare for belting out show tunes coupled with her immense stage presence all while simultaneously performing and playing the piano earned her the title of the ‘high priestess of soul’. The film not only highlights her career and sheer talent in all its glory, but also dives into her personal life, namely her temperament and long-standing physical and psychological abuse she received from her husband and manager.

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