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The Essential Music Films You Need to Watch

From classic documentaries and mockumentaries to biopics and more, here are the five essential music films and music-lover needs to see.

Music film Summer of SOul

A still from 'Summer Of Soul (Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)' by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

Mass Distraction Media/Courtesy of Sundance Institute

For the music-minded amongst us needing a bit of time for ourselves, how do we find a way to unwind? Well, often, it’s by sitting down on the couch and enjoying a musically-inclined film.

With countless amazing music films out there, it’s important to ensure you’re enjoying the films (and those truly iconic soundtracks) in the best way possible. That’s where Sonos smart speakers and soundbars provide an easy and premium audio experience while you sit back and enjoy all the content you love.

Sonos are committed to turning things up to eleven by making sure your TV, gaming, and music experiences are the best they can be. Start with the all new Ray or a Beam soundbar for dramatically clear sound, with the option to expand your system over time (you’ll feel that enhanced bass when adding a Sub).

To honour the Sonos commitment of bettering the audio-visual experience, we’ve taken a look at some of the greatest music films you need to watch (that would be best complemented by the Sonos listening experience). For a full rundown of the Sonos product range, be sure to check out their official website.

Don’t Look Back

Kicking things off by going back to 1968 for one of the earliest music documentaries, D. A. Pennebaker Don’t Look Back was a powerful and immersive look into Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of England. Once described by Kurt Cobain as the only “good documentary about rock and roll”, the film captures Dylan on tour, just before he changed the face of folk music by going electric. As such, it’s a moment in time which folk purists deem as critically important, while rock fans look upon it as a sign of what was to come.

Featuring footage of performances from Dylan (including a selection of tracks from his iconic Royal Albert Hall show) both solo and with the likes of Joan Baez, it also captures  iconic names such as Donovan, Marianne Faithfull, Ginger Baker, and John Mayall. Put it together, and there’s a reason why it’s been so critically revered over the past 54 years.

Almost Famous

Any music-lover will likely talk for hours about the sort of excess that rock stars were partaking in back in the ’70s, but Cameron Crowe, he was right there amongst it. At the time, Crowe was simply a writer for Rolling Stone, but a few decades later, he turned his experience as a journalist in the thick of musical hedonism into one of the finest musical films of all time.

Following the life of fictional rock band Stillwater on the road, the film sees Patrick Fugit as William Miller as he attempts to get his first cover feature published. Harrowing, powerful, and blending the perfect mix of emotional and humour, Almost Famous is frequently cited as one of the greatest films of all time, and any music-lover will tell you that it’s very easy to see why.

Summer of Soul

After more than 30 years as one of the most influential (yet underrated) musicians of all time, it’s no surprise that when Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson turned his focus to that of cinema it was a masterstroke of genius. Focusing on the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival (otherwise known as Black Woodstock), Questlove’s Summer of Soul takes a truly stunning look back at this turning point of African American culture.

Despite a lineup that boasted the likes of Steve Wonder, Nina Simone, The 5th Dimension, Sly and The Family Stone, Mahalia Jackson, Mavis Staples, and more, the festival was historically overlooked by musical historians. Thus, Questlove took it upon himself to find out why that was. With interviews from musicians and attendees, news footage, and gloriously-restored archival footage, Summer of Soul was so well-received and critically acclaimed that it even went on to take out Best Documentary Feature Film at this year’s Academy Awards.


Having been in the works for eight years, this year has seen the release of Baz Luhrmann’s long-awaited Elvis, his faithful biographical treatment of the life of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Featuring Austin Butler as Presley, and Tom Hanks as his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, the film received its official premiere just last month at Cannes, with critical reception (and even Presley’s own family) labelling it a masterful take on the King’s story.

In true Luhrmann fashion, classic Elvis tracks are modernised, with the core story complemented by stylistic charm and a powerful cast that has seen it cited as a frontrunner for one of the year’s best musical releases.

This is Spinal Tap

What would a list of musical movies be without a mention of the Tap? Though a mockumentary at its core, the trials and tribulations of the fictional Spinal Tap were so lifelike that artists such as Ozzy Osbourne had thought it was a legitimate documentary, later noting it seemed tame compared to his own experiences. Nevertheless, it remains a titan of music and comedy, with director Rob Reiner teaming up with the likes of Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer to immortalise the fictional group in cinema forever.

Just last month, it was announced that 38 years after its release, Spinal Tap will once again grace the big screen with a long-awaited sequel. While it remains to be seen whether it too will go all the way up to eleven like its predecessor, the original will forever maintain a special place in the hearts of cinema buffs and music-lovers.