Skip to main content

20 Feet From Stardom

Posted in

Checked out this Oscar winner for Best Documentary when Tara said she had heard good things about it.  Definitely worth seeing.  It's a killer idea for a documentary, to examine the careers of backup singers, people as ubiquitous as they are under-recognized.

The first thing that the movie establishes is just how amazingly talented these people are.  They're world-class experts at their craft, people with rich, sonorous tone, incredible tune, and incredible improvisational skills.  They're exactly what you would expect from somebody at the top of their profession.

And once you realize that, the movie goes to the natural follow-up question.  If these people are so good at singing, why aren't they the lead singers instead of the backups?  The answer changes from person-to-person.  Sometimes it's temperament, sometimes it's politics, sometimes it's luck, and sometimes it's still a complete mystery.

The movie is fascinating, and definitely made me think about fame and stardom in a different way.  We're so used to hearing the stories of the stars who made it, or at least the stars who came to dizzying heights only to fall out of favor.  We almost never hear about the near-misses.  Turns out they have fascinating stories to tell.

star star star star star star star no star no star no star