This week we discuss our favorite music movies. What is a music movie you ask? Documentaries, concert films, musicals, Muppet movies, movies with amazing soundtracks... basically anything goes. What are your top five favorite music movies? Join the discussion on the forums! And check our bonus Top Five (or more) lists below from other HMXers and friends of Harmonix!
- Guest Roster: Jessa Brezinski, Christine Jandreau, Aaron Trites, and Fish McGill
- Host: Eric Pope
- Audio Engineer: Nick Kallman
- Album art: Fish McGill
When we posted that we just recorded our podcast about music movies, Harmonixers and friends of Harmonix tweeted back at us in droves. We received so many good lists, we had to compile them to share with you. Listen to the podcast, read through our lists, and then share your own in the forums!
Matt Studivan (@beatonthematt), HMX Playtest Coordinator, on vacation and can’t count
- The Future is Unwritten: The Joe Strummer Story
- We Jam Econo: The Minutemen
- Along the Way: Bad Religion Concert Film
- Under Blackpool Lights: The White Stripes
- End of the Century: The Ramones
- Transatlantic Feedback: the monks
Jason Kendall (@jasonkendall), HMX Producer, proud warrior of MEGASUS
- Rivers Edge
- Over The Edge
- A Clockwork Orange
- The Punk Rock Movie (Don Letts)
- Rock N Roll High School
- Harder They Come
- The Song Remains The Same
- O Brother Where Art Thou?
- Repo Man
HMX alum Maclaine Diemer (@maclainediemer). He’s working on Guild Wars 2 now, so you know it’ll be good!
- Gimme Shelter. Incredible documentary by the amazing Maysles brothers. It documents one of those overly mythologized moments from the '60s that many words have been written or said about, but watching what actually happened at Altamont and having it framed by the band and film makers after the fact is pretty powerful stuff.
- A Hard Day's Night. Perfect, charming, beautiful little film by Richard Lester. Many have tried to replicate this over the years, and all have failed. Great soundtrack, too, obviously.
- This Is Spinal Tap. Ironically, this satire is the most insightful movie about the lives of rockstars. Even if you were never famous, if you've been in a band, you can relate to this movie.
- Hype! An honest account of the last important mainstream rock and roll movement. After moving to Seattle, this movie helped me fully wrap my mind around a part of Pacific Northwest culture and history that still looms large over the area.
- It Might Get Loud. Rock and roll is about the guitar. The two are inextricably linked. Musicians will usually speak with one another differently than they will with non-musicians, so hearing three guitar giants trade stories and jam on each other's riffs in such a casual setting is truly a privilege. Before I saw this movie, I thought it made sense to have Jimmy Page and Jack White in a room together, and that the Edge couldn't possibly be more out of place. I was wrong, though. All three clearly share an immense amount of love and respect for the common instrument they love, and that respect carries over into how they view each other's work.
RockBandAide (@rockbandaide), friend of the HMX family, all-star fan site, proud papa
- Almost Famous
- Empire Records
- Walk the Line
- Blues Brothers
- This Is Spinal Tap
Rachel Johnson (@msdixon), HMX Choreography Designer, fiercest diva, '90s superfanRachel’s Best Dance Music / Rave Culture (Fictional) Top 5:
- Human Traffic
- 24 Hour Party People
- Party Girl
Kurt Davis, HMX Office Manager and frontman / drummer of The Konks (and he don’t care)!
- The Filth & the Fury - Essential Sex Pistols documentary.
- D.O.A. - Punk rock documentary produced by the publisher of High Times magazine revolving around the maelstrom that was the Sex Pistols U.S. tour in 1978, culminating in their breakup. There’s some amazing footage of Generation X (Billy Idol's early punk band) and X-Ray Spex. There’s an almost unbelievable interview with Sid & Nancy that is worth watching the whole movie for and in 5 minutes puts to shame Alex Cox’s Sid & Nancy.
- URGH! A MUSIC WAR - Nothing but performance footage. Great sound, great camera work. Great bands. All punk, new wave, and post-punk bands, in their heyday. Gary Numan, Gang of Four, Klaus Nomi, Spizz Energy, Dead Kennedy’s, XTC, Pere Ubu, Echo & The Bunnymen, and more, are all great, or at least memorable, but it’s The Cramps that steal the show. RIP Lux.
- American Graffiti - The soundtrack to this flick is like one of the characters. A case where the music perfectly encapsulates all the joy, hope, romance, action, and heartbreak that take place in the movie. I like movies that take place in one day, so special mention should also go to Carwash; another movie that is made essential by the soundtrack (the cast is great, too!)
- Speaking of heartbreak, Quadrophenia is next on my list. The pains of existential angst inherent in adolescence is perfectly captured in this movie. Someone that is struggling with trying to find his place in the world amongst hypocrisy and class struggle in bleak surroundings, trying not to fall prey to The Grind of what he sees as his future. Finding escape, solace and acceptance amongst his tribe The Mods. The soundtrack complements the movie perfectly.
- This is Spinal Tap. Come on, isn’t this on EVERONE’s list?
- The Decline(s) of Western Civilization 1 & 2 - Penelope Spheeris’s amazing documentaries of (1) the L.A. punk scene and the (2) L.A. heavy metal scene. Both are funny and poignant. There are hilarious scenes, both intentionally and unintentionally, and also scenes that are object lessons in how not to be…Cautionary tales of almost mythic proportions. Nice job of capturing their time and place and thoroughly entertaining.
- Rude Boy - Fictionalized account of a roadie on tour with The Clash in their prime. Decent storytelling, but essential and amazing footage of The Clash live and in the studio. Feels very raw and real. Great time capsule (as are most of these movies).
- Speaking of raw and real: Gimme Shelter, the movie that documents the chaos that ensues when the Rolling Stones headline a free concert in Altamont, CA and hire the Hell’s Angels for security, resulting in a murder. The words harrowing and chilling always follow any discussion of this movie, for good reason. The word stupidity should also enter the conversation. Insane how this unfolds.
- The Wizard of Oz - This may be my favorite movie of all time, and for many reasons, not the least of which is the songs. I know it’s sappy, but, hey, I am a sap. "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," delivered by a not-yet-tragic Judy Garland at the beginning of her career, is too great to be denied. Think about it: "Follow the Yellow Brick Road," "The Lollipop Guild," "Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead," "If I Only Had a (Brain, Heart, The Noive)," the O-Wee-O, EE-O-Ho song that the witch's guards sing as they march - these are all part of a generation's DNA. My life would be lesser in a world where these songs never existed, and so would yours.