Pop, Rock & loaded

Pop, Rock & loaded

In conjunction with the release of Canadian pop-idol Justin Bieber's biopic "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never", we look at the many amazing movies that has depicted the lives of actual musicians and their journey as well as struggles towards achieving a successful status. Whether they are rock documentaries about our favourite musicians, heartfelt country sweethearts, blues legends or even pop idols, their stories of struggle and passion to reach the top never cease to amaze. So be sure to check out the following list of movies and music combination that brings the best of both, music and film worlds:


Justin Bieber charms fans with the story following his rise to stardom.

1. Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D (2011)
"There's gonna be a time when people say you can't do something or live your dreams. And there's gonna be a time when people say you can't sell out Madison Square Garden, but you know what I say? Never. Say, Never."

For someone who started out as an ordinary Canadian kid, Justin Bieber is now a global superstar thanks to the discovery of Bieber's videos on YouTube that first got him noticed for his singing talent at the tender age of 13. This 3D documentary feature follows rising star Bieber from the start till his current popularity in his big screen debut with a slew of guest artists that range from Jaden Smith, Miley Cyrus, Sean Kingston, to major RnB stars Chris Brown, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, Boys II Men and Kanye West. The film is made as not only a biopic, but as a story of an underdog who rose to fame in the digital age and emerged an icon. An impressive and heart-warming feature that is interesting enough for Bielibers and non-Bielibers alike, the countdown for his huge concert at Madison Square Garden begins on the big screen and finally it ends with the concert itself.


The Beatles play themselves in this semi-fictional biopic.

2. A Hard Day's Night (1964)
"Now look, I've had a marvellous idea. Just for once, let's all try to behave like ordinary, respectable citizens. Let's not cause any trouble, pull any strokes, or do anything I'm gonna be sorry for."

A movie about one of the most beloved band in history gives us a glimpse of John, Paul, George and Ringo's life, rise to stardom and everything else that comes with it. From adoring fans chasing them, to the humorous way the group handles their fame, this movie, including the music, will bring you back to the yesteryears. The group's early days was caught in all its glory in a pseudo/faux-documentary style by director Richard Lester ("Superman II"). The band had a writer hang out with them to develop a script that loosely reflected their demeanour, their dramatic famous existence, and then place an exaggerated version of that band on the big screen for the world to see. The film has become widely regarded as a classic and even though the band went on to make 3 more films, "Help," "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Let It Be" afterwards, "A Hard Days Night" is the only one that is considered an absolute necessity for any Beatles fans.


In this rock biopic, Kristen Stewart plays Joan Jett along with Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie.

3. The Runaways (2010)
"They'll eat you alive out there! Rock 'n' roll is tough music played in tough venues! Men don't like to see women anywhere but in their kitchens or on their knees, let alone on stage with guitars."

In 1975, the first all-girl, all-teen rock band named The Runaways took the world by storm. Anchored by lead guitarist and future rock icon Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) and vocalist Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning), the movie serves as a biopic of their early years. It is easily the most adult role to date for Dakota Fanning who sheds her creepy pale kid image for a drugged up pale starlet. As Jett, Kristen Stewart shows considerably more ability than she has in the "Twilight" movies. The soundtrack comes ready-made. Songs from the era, mostly by the real Runaways are both played on stage and plugged in at appropriate times during non-performance scenes. If you're a fan, you'll want to have the volume cranked up high for this one.


The life of the much-loved Latino singer is well portrayed by Jennifer Lopez in "Selena".

4. Selena (1997)
"You know what your problem is? You can't even accept something great even when it stares at you in the face. I may not be street wise and all that, but at least I know not to be that dumb!"

"Selena" is a biographical film about the life and career of the late Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla-Pérez (played by Jennifer Lopez), a Grammy Award-winning recording artist who was well known in the Mexican-American and Hispanic communities in the United States and Mexico before her death at the age of 23. This movie made Jennifer Lopez's portrayal of Selena the defining point of her career. In interviews, Lopez who beat out over 12,000 other actresses for the role, revealed how she spent time with the late music star's family and slept in Selena's bed for inspiration. Looks like her creepy effort worked out well for Lopez in the end, as she got nominated for a Golden Globe as best actress for her portrayal of Selena.


The movie chronicles Elvis' rise from his humble beginnings to his fame and anticipated Vegas comeback in 1969.

5. Elvis (1979)
"I may be expressing myself through these beautiful symphonies of light, colour, and language that manifest itself as music. But they will hail you as one of the great ones of the day, and think of you as a wonderful preacher, and teacher."

Directed by John Carpenter ("Halloween"), the 1979 biopic that was a made-for-TV movie was a huge success when it originally aired. There is no question why, as it came out just a year and a half after Elvis' unexpected death. Although this movie could have been a glorified puff piece about Elvis and all of his achievements, it turned out to be a solid production with a lot of creative talent involved and of course, some great music. There is a lot of ground to cover in this movie and the filmmakers decided to skip the 70's and Presley's death and focus on his humble upbringing and all the way through to his Vegas comeback in 1969. Kurt Russell who played the title role depicted Presley's pain, desire and rage superbly and was consequently nominated for an Emmy for the role.


Jamie Foxx won an Oscar for his uncanny portrayal of blues legend Ray Charles.

6. Ray (2004)
"You're the ones who taught me that making a record is business and find the best business deal that you can. Now seventy-five cents of every dollar and owning my own masters is a pretty damn good deal. Can you match it?"

Jamie Foxx followed a well-deserved Oscar for his mind-boggling embodiment of Ray Charles in "Ray". From his uncanny resemblance to the blues legend and also of his realistic depiction of Ray's blindness, it seems as if audiences could forget that they're even watching funnyman Foxx act and sing as Ray. The role and actor seemed positively destined for each other and the film's success was commended greatly to lie on Foxx's riveting portrayal. The story follows Ray's rise to fame and his struggles to showcase his music as a blind, black and blues musician. It seemed with this role that Foxx reached the pinnacle of his career as all of his other later roles were undeniably downhill from "Ray".


The romance between country stars Johnny Cash and June Carter is one of the highlights of the biopic.

7. Walk the Line (2005)
"Now, I'd like to remind you all that we're recording live, so you can't say "hell" or "shit" or anything like that!"

Joaquin Phoenix's portrayal of Johnny Cash in "Walk the Line" is tragically inspiring as he belts out Cash's classic tunes. This movie is based on Johnny Cash's life, going from his childhood through his drug addiction as well as exploring his hidden romance and eventual marriage to June Carter Cash. Johnny and June are played by Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon respectively and both were brilliant in their performances. They learned to play all their own instruments and performed all of the songs themselves. Both Phoenix and Witherspoon received Academy Awards nominations for their performances with Witherspoon winning the Best Actress award. The entire film depicts the rise and fall of Johnny Cash while building up a strong character as he moves throughout his life.


Gary Oldman plays Sid Vicious and portrays the musician's trouble-ridden life.

8. Sid and Nancy (1986)
"Sid's more than a mere bass player. He's a fabulous disaster. He's a symbol, a metaphor. He embodies the dementia of a nihilistic generation."

A movie set in the 70's at the peak of the punk rock revolution, it follows Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman), as he becomes the bass player for the world-famous band Sex Pistols. Fame, money and drugs swirl about him as he clings to an American girl named Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb). The story follows the actual events of the band as they disintegrate after their U.S. tour, while Sid tries to sustain a solo career. As heroin addiction drags him and Nancy down, he awakes one morning only to find her stabbed to death and him, charged with first-degree murder. Gary Oldman brings the rock icon back to live in this true story that leads to the event that grabbed headlines when it happened in 1978. Also look out for Courtney Love's cameo in the movie.


Michael Pitt plays Blake, the character that is based on grunge icon Kurt Cobain.

9. Last Days (2005)
"You know, it's kinda like success is subjective, you know. It could be an opinion. I lost something on the way to wherever I am today. "

Speaking of Courtney Love, here is a movie about her late husband and grunge icon Kurt Cobain. Gus Van Sant makes a film loosely based on the final days of Nirvana's front man Kurt Cobain. Said to be only a vague reference to Cobain's suicide, the connection is nothing close to subtle. Michael Pitt stars as the Cobain-esque Blake, Lukas Haas plays Luke, Asia Argento plays Asia and Scott Green plays Scott. Pitt looks almost exactly like Cobain, with straggly blonde hair covering his face and a lean, similar build to Cobain, complete with the same grunge-style wardrobe. There are even a few moments where Pitt dons wardrobe best known from Kurt Cobain photo shoots, such as a jacket with a fur covered hood and a pair of oversized yellow sunglasses. For those curious regarding the controversial death of Cobain, maybe this movie about the musician will be able to shed some light to the burning questions.


The King of Pop in his final performance before his untimely death.

10. This Is It (2009)
"It's an adventure. It's a great adventure. We want to take them places that they've never been before. We want to show them talent like they've never seen before."

Not quite a biopic of the late Michael Jackson, it would not make sense to overlook the final work of the King of Pop so "This Is It". When Jackson suddenly died, people were stunned as he seemed to be in perfect health and especially when he was about to make his much anticipated comeback on the performing stage. With all his rehearsal footage compiled and meticulously edited, the epic concert became a documentary about its making instead. The film is presented as almost a series of vignettes. There is an introduction (which mercifully glosses over Jackson's bizarre press conference appearance to announce the shows) before each song gets a sneak performance from Jackson himself. They also insert a little segment about the dancers and the band. It is very patchy and the content shows something quite a distance from a polished, finished performance but still, he is the King of Pop after all and only he could have pulled of his own concert rehearsal as a movie. What does US$60million worth of footage looks like? That's right. "This Is It".