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Σάββατο, 27 Νοεμβρίου, 2021
ΑρχικήEnglish EditionCultureThe Rise of Music Documentaries

The Rise of Music Documentaries


By Panagiota Katsaveli,

As children, it is very unlikely that many of the moments we experience will survive in our memory, but one of the first recollections of my younger self involves myself shaking my body to the sound of the time’s hits while fantasizing about the artists and the incredible lives they must be leading. The life of artists of all kinds, and especially musicians, have captured the public’s attention for ages, so Hollywood producers found the golden opportunity to benefit from our curiosity. Music documentaries have been a trend on the rise for quite some time, with famous music artists being in front of the camera to disclose hidden parts of their life their fans are interested to unfold. 

Music documentaries, following the lives of global stars, have been a trend for streaming platforms for almost a decade, as some people claim. Justin Bieber’s concert film ‘Never Say Never’ is considered by many an indicative beginning of the trend and since then other stars have expressed interest or released films of their own stories. However, a group of people claims that the trend started some years prior. But how do these projects become reality? As various filmmakers, who have worked on docs with artists, have confessed sometimes, they are presented with a finished idea about the project, but most often than not they decide to follow the star until they are presented with a concept worth developing. These films have proven to be an immense success for all the parties involved. The streaming services like Netflix or Apple TV, which undertake these projects, make a profit from appealing to the loyal fanbases following these music stars, while artists enjoy benefits that surpass the financial side of the deal since the money they receive in the end is not as high as some might expect.

Image source: Great Music Documentaries. Picture: Press

Many people may be wondering now what the artist gets out of this deal if the financial benefits are not immense and why they would agree to have cameras following them for pretty much a year. The answer to these queries is rather simple: the media and the press tend to manipulate stories and present the public with a false narrative, leaving the artists exposed and misunderstood by people who form a false impression. These documentaries and docuseries give the power and control back to the artist to present the narrative of their own stories. One artist, the singer, is in charge of choosing and narrating the story while another artist, the filmmaker, decides the way it is to be displayed. These artists have the opportunity to share their life stories or some important life-changing experiences with their audience and as a result, they built a stronger bond with their fans. The fans get to experience a glimpse of the personal life of their favorite stars and the stars get the chance to be more vulnerable and real with them; they are presented as more human and more real than the impersonal figures they are often perceived as.

Even though music documentaries are focused on the lives of our favorite stars, they often generalize and explore subjects that concern society as a whole. Anxiety and the fragile mental health of people found constantly in the spotlight are common occurrences in the docs. Moreover, the artists may come from different cultural backgrounds, which certainly affects their upbringing and the shaping of their character, but also discussing the different expectations of women in the music industry is a serious topic that needs to be emphasized.

This year has been full of releases of music documentaries about artists and bands and the pandemic gave a significant push to the entire process. The intense quarantine rules enforced worldwide amid the covid 19 pandemic pushed artists to find new ways to engage with their audience and streaming services experience a time of blooming, hence it was only natural to carve a common path. Music documentaries about Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish, Demi Lovato, Amy Winehouse, and more have attracted the audience’s attention and become favorites. A highly anticipated documentary is one centered around The Beatles, one of the best known and most successful bands in the world, with documentaries or docuseries about Rihanna and Tina Turner being expected to be created as well. 

Image source: https://www.filmaffinity.com/au/film226904.html

At this point, I would like to take the time to recommend a music documentary I have watched and enjoyed as a fan. I would like to mention Taylor Swift’s documentary ‘Miss Americana”, which was released in January 2020. This documentary can capture different sides of this multifaceted artist while taking a trip down memory lane from the beginning of her career as a country singer. The artist shares her emotions and insecurities as she reminisces on important moments that altered the trajectory of her career. Moreover, some known feuds and the role played by the media in the way people viewed Taylor Swift are mentioned. This is another small stone in the effort made by the pop sensation to control her own narrative and be in charge of the image she puts out there for the whole world to see. A highlight I particularly enjoyed in the documentary was her decision to express her views regarding politics. Most artists avoid expanding to the political territory in any shape or form since it could prove detrimental to their career, but she deemed motivating the young to vote and help shape the future of her country as far more important. In my opinion, this is an instance in which the film helped to change the public perception of the artist and made people leave behind some of their misconceptions. 

All in all, after taking everything previously mentioned into account, it becomes clear that music documentaries are here to stay in the entertainment industry. Diving headfirst into the life of some favorite music oddities is both entertaining and intriguing for the audience and creators alike. As the years go by, it seems possible that more and more artists will follow suit and create the narration of their stories to protect them. Having a documentary created about you after you have passed is certainly honorary, but the narrative is presented from an outsider’s point of view, so making one beforehand seems like the best solution. All we have to do is enjoy them!


References

Rolling Stone, We’re Living in a Golden Age of Music Documentaries: Five Breakdowns. Available here. 

The Guardian, It’s my life: the rise of the pop-star scripted documentary. Available here.


 

TA ΤΕΛΕΥΤΑΙΑ ΑΡΘΡΑ

Panagiota Katsaveli
She was born in 2001 and was raised in Kilkis. She was an undergraduate student in the department of English Language and Literature at AUTh. Her passions include learning foreign languages and travelling both inside the country and abroad. In her spare time, she enjoys watching movies and reading literature.