10 Best Music Documentaries of 2023 You Need to Watch

Offering a behind-the-scenes look into the lives of artists, the rise and reign of genres, and globally significant historical events, these documentary films are a must-watch for music lovers in 2023.

Documentaries centered on different genres of music, artists, and their legacy are released every year. We learn new perspectives, get a deeper understanding of our favorite artists and the challenges they face in their personal and professional lives, as well as significant moments in music history that led to the birth of certain genres and styles.

Some artists uncover parts about themselves they haven’t shown before, while others include archival footage and interviews with family members, their teams, or loved ones to help us feel connected. We’ve put together a list of music documentaries released in 2023 that you must watch before we welcome the new year and new documentaries.

Fight the Power: How Hip-Hop Changed the World

Hip-hop has been a major part of our lives. It is a form of art that has become a means of expression, sharing challenges with thought-provoking and socially conscious lyrics. The genre has helped many share their experiences. ‘Fight the Power: How Hip-Hop Changed the World is a four-part documentary series that takes a look at “Hip hop’s political awakening over the last 50 years.” This PBS documentary features stars like rapper Ice-T, Will.i.am, Public Enemy’s Chuck D, DJ and rapper MC Lyte, Monie Love, Run DMC, and more. It includes commentaries from renowned artists and icons.

Wynonna Judd: Between Hell and Hallelujah

‘Wynonna Judd: Between Hell and Hallelujah’ sees country music star Wynonna Judd embark on a heartbreaking journey to process her grief after the untimely death of her mother, Naomi Judd, by suicide. The Judds, an iconic mother-daughter music duo comprising Naomi and Wynonna Judd, have offered tunes including ‘Why Not Me,’ ‘Mama He’s Crazy,’ and ‘Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Old Days).’ Fans and viewers can see Wynonna on The Judds: The Final Tour, as well as the singer spending time with her animals at her farm, in this Paramount+ documentary produced by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and MTV Entertainment Studios, who teamed up with Sandbox Productions.

Wynonna goes through one of the most challenging moments of her life and begins a new chapter. ‘Wynonna Judd: Between Hell and Hallelujah’ is also a celebration of Naomi Judd’s life. It features a bevy of country music artists like Little Big Town, Brandi Carlile, Kelsea Ballerini, Faith Hill, and more taking the stage every night during the tour in Naomi’s place. The documentary will also take you behind the scenes of the sold-out tour.

“The truth is when they first came to me about the documentary, I said, “Absolutely not”. It was too painful. There was too much happening that I had no control over. And then I realized, we all have a story to tell. And I wanted to tell my story in my own voice. And if it helps one person choose life, then I told myself it was worth it,” said Wynonna Judd.

Ed Sheeran: The Sum of It All

With evergreen hits like ‘Perfect’ and ‘Thinking Out Loud,’ which frequent dance floors at weddings, and tunes like ‘Lego House,’ ‘The A Team,’ and ‘Photograph’ under his belt, Ed Sheeran has established himself among the biggest pop stars on the planet. The star welcomes fans to get a peek inside his personal life in the Disney+ documentary series ‘Ed Sheeran: The Sum of It All.’ The episodes titled ‘Love,’ ‘Loss,’ ‘Focus,’ and ‘Release’ take audiences on a journey of personal and professional achievements, difficulties, losses, and challenges during a stormy part of his life through never-before-seen archival footage and interviews.

Ed Sheeran talks about his chart-toppers, hits, and how his personal life impacted his music. He discusses his career and grieves the loss of a friend after he passed away. Sheeran also reveals that his wife, Cherry, was diagnosed with cancer. The docu-series also features intimate performances, with fans getting an opportunity to see the star perform with his childhood hero and pay tribute to his friend, Jamal.

Little Richard: I Am Everything

Directed by Emmy-winning director and producer Lisa Cortés, ‘Little Richard: I Am Everything’ is a celebration of the life and legacy of the rock ‘n’ roll legend Little Richard. Featuring filmmaker and actor Jon Waters, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones, and ‘Pose’ star Billy Porter, the documentary follows the career of the artist, who is among those who have spearheaded rock ‘n’ roll for many greats.

With the help of archival footage, ‘Little Richard: I Am Everything’ takes viewers back to the very beginning of the origins of rock ‘n’ roll. The documentary helps uncover the architect of black, queer rock ‘n’ roll and highlights Little Richard’s exemplary performances, his iconic style, and outstanding career. The interviews with familiar faces, scholars, and people who worked with or knew the star help us learn more about Richard Penniman, AKA Little Richard.

“I read his biography [The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Quasar of Rock by Charles White] which was a lot of fun and very colorful. One of the things that became very apparent as I was doing research was this idea that Richard put forth of not feeling that he received his due, his recognition for his contributions,” Cortés told Billboard. “I knew then that I wanted Richard to narrate his story. I wanted to give the microphone to Mr. Penniman. Specifically, to give him agency that he felt had been denied to him at times.”

“This film is like my testimony of, ‘This is why Little Richard is the bomb’ — because you might not know, but way back when, he started so many things that affect music and culture now,” she explained.


Netflix’s ‘Wham!’ commemorates the 40th anniversary of the English pop duo’s 1983 debut album ‘Fantastic.’ George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley met as teenagers and, with a lot of hard work, persevered to become an outfit that has made some of the most popular tunes on the planet, including ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,’ ‘Club Tropicana,’ and ‘Last Christmas.’ They’ve sold millions of records and toured across the world. The 1 hour, 32 minute film takes viewers on Wham’s journey to fame. ‘Wham!’ is a sweet documentary for both fans and new listeners alike, offering a look inside the duo’s private and professional lives through rare and never-before-seen footage and interviews.

TLC Forever

Fans get an opportunity to watch T-Boz and Chilli of TLC tell their story for the first time in this Lifetime feature documentary ‘TLC Forever.’ The surviving members of the boundary-pushing group disclose the challenges and difficulties they faced in this highly-competitive world and yet they blazed the trail for other female groups. The best-selling American female group did this with their music, as well as fashion and tenacity even in trying times. TLC comprising Lisa Lopes (Left Eye), Rozonda Thomas (Chilli), Tionne Watkins (T-Boz) offered songs like ‘Waterfalls,’ ‘Unpretty,’ ‘No Scrubs,’ and ‘Creep’ served as an influence for many.

The documentary includes behind-the-scenes footage, commentary from the members of the band, and live performances. “I was a little nervous going into the project but only because any time you sit down and share things about your life, you have no idea how it’s going to be perceived; how what something I say means to someone else – they may take it in a way I didn’t mean it. that’s nerve-wrecking to me,” revealed Chilli.

Have You Got It Yet?: The Story of Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd

Taking us back to the ‘60s, ‘Have You Got It Yet: The Story of Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd’ centers on the ups and downs of the legendary rock band Pink Floyd and its founding member Syd Barrett. Pink Floyd are among the best-selling bands of all time. Co-directed by Storm Thorgerson, and Roddy Bogawa, the documentary follows Syd’s meteoric rise to fame and success, to his departure from the band. It includes interviews with people Barrett has worked with, including family, friends, lovers, and surviving members of Pink Floyd – David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Roger Waters. The doc also features never-before-seen photographs and concert footage.

“His is a story of many artists and creative people: Brian Jones from the Rolling Stones, Brian Wilson, Daniel Johnston, even Kurt Cobain in some ways. These are people who found a creative outlet to express the things that were inside them, then the combination of external and internal pressures built up these fractures,” co-director Bogawa told The Guardian.

“One of the things that makes Syd unique in this group is that he didn’t die [see footnote]. He in fact did become a recluse, lived for 22 more years after recording his last record. He went back to painting. Nobody really knew what had happened to him … One of the things that’s built Syd’s image is people projecting their own feelings and thoughts or even worries on to his story. He was out of the limelight, so people could fill in that unresolved mystery how they like. That’s compelling to people.”

Love to Love You, Donna Summer

‘Love to Love You, Donna Summer’ chronicles the groundbreaking career of the “Queen of Disco” Donna Summer. Co-directed by her daughter Brooklyn Sudano and Roger Ross Williams (the first African American director to win an Academy Award), the documentary not only reveals behind-the-scenes moments of her career but also discloses struggles and challenges she faced in her personal life both as a mother and a person. Home videos, interviews with family, people Donna worked with, and a wealth of archival footage help viewers celebrate the life of Summer and pay tribute to the iconic ‘Bad Girls’ singer. It also highlights Donna Summer’s achievements as an artist and reveals details many may have not known about the star.

Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman

‘Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman’ on Disney+ sees Dave Letterman visiting Dublin for the first time. Directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville, the documentary revolves around U2’s Bono and The Edge’s over four-decades old friendship. It centers on how their camaraderie has evolved into among the most extraordinary songwriting collaborations in rock ‘n’ roll.

Television host Letterman’s experience in Dublin is captured in this documentary. He also witnesses Bono and The Edge’s concert. U2’s Bono and the Edge describe their songwriting process through interviews. The documentary features never-before-seen footage and viewers can learn more about the inspiration behind their biggest hits.

BET & ET Present Tina Turner: Life and Legacy

The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Tina Turner, was a legendary singer-songwriter, and an icon for generations! The ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It’ singer passed away this May. ‘BET & ET Present Tina Turner: Life and Legacy’ honors the artist whose talent and on-stage persona will be talked about for years to come! The 40-minute documentary details the career of Turner through interviews and rare archival footage.

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