20 Feet from Stardom (2013)

20 Feet from Stardom (2013)

2013 | NR | 89 Minutes

Documentary | Music

Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we've had no idea who these singers are or what lives they...

Overall Rating

7 / 10
Verdict: Good

User Review

  • 20 Feet From Stardom allows various backup singers to step into the spotlight. Ever wondered why some of the greatest songs of all time sound harmoniously perfect? Simply answer: background singers. The perfect complement to lead singers that can transform an average song into an instant hit. We often take these wonderful singers for granted, and this documentary allows them to step forward and present their talent to the masses. Neville focuses on various singers, including Darlene Love and Lisa Fischer (holy wow can she sing!), as they recall the struggles and opportunities their careers opened up to them. Singing alongside The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson and David Bowie may sound like the perfect job, but hiding in the shadows often increases their desire for wanting fame. Many of these singers wanted to pursue solo careers, but due to the strict music industry at a time where civil rights were debated and genre artists were limited, this ultimately lead to their records never sticking. Neville utilises their frustrations to illustrate the natural progression of music in its entirety. From soul to rock'n'roll to manufactured pop. These singers had to adapt to demands and change within their industry, and it was fascinating to watch. Heartfelt interviews and insights actually came across as educational, particularly for 60's soul. Racial differences are raised and topics regarding being replaced by artificial vocals are also mentioned, although underdeveloped. The inevitable fear of technological advancements replacing authentic vocals should've been discussed more. It's an assured documentary, but one that does not attempt to stand out. Nothing special with its direction or editing is included, but it remains entertaining throughout. One comment that is important, are the various interviews with lead singers. To hear them show their appreciation for backup singers was gratifying. And much like this documentary, it's important to hear the vocal talent and ambition these singers have. I suspect you will find an entire new adoration for these wonderful individuals. I have!