• The 20 Best Movies About Music
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  • The Top 20 Movies About Music

    Long before gossip magazines and Instagram feeds let us track every tiny detail about the musicians we love, film showed us what the life of an artist was like. From epic rises to fame, to tragic falls from grace, movies about music have a special quality that captures hearts and Academy Awards alike. Plus, they usually have incredible soundtracks to boot. Spanning years, genres, and many teenage crushes, here are the Pepsi Pulse 20 Best Movies About Music.
  • 1. Empire Records (1995)

    The sordid teenage staff of an independent record shop have to save it from being purchased by a major chain. Liv Tyler and Rene Zellweger star in the peak of their salad days, vying for attention from men who are too old while The Cranberries croon on the soundtrack.

    Click here to watch the trailer for Empire Records.
  • 2. Almost Famous (2000)

    Set in the early 70’s, a 15-year-old aspiring music journalist defies his mother and goes out on the road with one of the biggest rock bands in the world. As he tries in vain to sit down for revealing interviews with members of the band, he falls in love with the infamous groupie (or band-aid, as the film denotes), Penny Lane. Moral of the story? Love and rock and roll are the pillars of human existence.

    Click here to watch the iconic, “Tiny Dancer,” scene from Almost Famous.
  • 3. Dreamgirls (2006)

    If you weren’t an American Idol fan during the third season of the show, Dreamgirls is probably where you first encountered Oscar and Grammy Award winner, Jennifer Hudson. Adapted from a 1980’s Broadway musical, Dreamgirls tells the story of The Supremes through the facade of a fictional girl group called The Dreams. The protagonists, Effie and Deena endure the cutthroat realities that hard decisions have to be made, and friendships don’t always endure at the top of the music industry. Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx make up the heavyweight cast.

    Click here to watch the trailer for Dreamgirls.
  • 4. 8 Mile (2002)

    Eminem stars as B-Rabbit, a rapper from the wrong side of 8 Mile Road in Detroit. His alcoholic mother, dead end job, and exciting, but unfaithful love interest, (played by Brittany Murphy) weigh him down as he tries, against all odds, to make his rap career stick. His one shot at a different life is one of the most intense rap battles in Detroit. The first time he tried his luck he choked. His second chance is the moment he has to prove his talent to the crowd, and more importantly, to himself.

    Click here to watch the trailer for 8 Mile.
  • 5. School of Rock (2003)

    Jack Black gets kicked out of his band and finds himself posing as a substitute teacher to make some extra cash. When he realizes that his students have serious skills in the music room, he makes it his mission to turn them into a legendary rock band. All he has to do is coax the inner Stevie Nicks out of the school’s uptight principle so she’ll let him cancel math class. Rock on!

    Watch the trailer for School of Rock here.
  • 6. Grease (1978)

    Senior year at Rydell High in 1959 means dances, car races, rumbles and an unnecessary amount of hair product. One of the members of the bad boy mechanics gang, the T-Birds, falls in love with a good girl named Sandy over the summer. When it turns out she’s unknowingly transferred to his high school that fall, a year of flirtation, friendship and feuds ensues. Watch it until you know every word to every song.

    Watch the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies perform Grease's opening number, “Summer Nights,” here.
  • 7. Fantasia (1940)

    Disney animations dance across the screen set to Western classical compositions. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is the most well-known segment, featuring Mickey Mouse as an aspiring magician who boldly goes beyond his assigned tasks. Since the 1940’s, Harry Potter has taught us the perils of a non-expert practicing magic unsupervised. Hey, no one ever knocked on the Disney headquarters in the middle of the night to say, “You’re a wizard, Mickey.” He had to figure it out on his own.

    Check out the Sorcerer’s Apprentice on YouTube.
  • 8. Ray (2004)

    The life of legendary musician Ray Charles unfolds on screen. Ray traces his childhood in Georgia, where he went blind at the age of seven, to his triumphant rise to the top of almost every genre of popular music in the 1960’s. Not without struggles and tragedy, the movie is a complex and emotionally-charged biopic honoring a man who changed the way music sounds for the rest of history.

    Click here to watch the trailer for Ray.
  • 9. Walk The Line (2005)

    Joaquin Phoenix captures the tortured, creative and rebellious essences of Johnny Cash in Walk the Line. From his childhood home in Arkansas, to his iconic performance for the inmates at Folsum Prison, Cash’s volatile life was filled with exhilarating highs and excruciating lows. The film was nominated for a whopping five academy awards, and watching it makes you realize that Mr. Cash might truly have been the coolest man to ever walk the earth. How many people can say they’ve been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame?

    Click here to watch the trailer for Walk The Line.
  • 10. Across The Universe (2007)

    It's a story that's been told time and time again: rich girl falls for poor starving artist boy, but the backdrop is anything but standard. In the 1960's protests break out against the Vietnam War in the US and the interpretation of the era’s passionate struggles are portrayed through surrealist film scenes. The love story is set to the narratives of songs by The Beatles. Can you guess the lovers’ names? Lucy and Jude, how fitting.

    Click here to watch the trailer for Across the Universe.
  • 11. Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

  • 12. The Runaways (2010)

    An ode to Joan Jett and Cherrie Currie’s 1970’s punk band The Runaways, the eponymous film follows Dakota Fanning (Cherrie) shed her innocence in favor of a more exhilarating lifestyle. Expect big hair, big heels, and some of the most poignant female teen angst on screen since Clueless.

    Click here to watch the trailer for The Runaways.
  • 13. Fame (1982)

    The students at the New York High School for Performing Arts are under more pressure than simply scoring well on their final exams. They have to worry about being the best, fending off the competition and navigating the social scene in high school all at the same time. This musical explores the intensity of the audition, rehearsal, and performance processes for a group of students throughout their four years at the school. The goal? Make people remember your name.

    Remember to watch the trailer for Fame here. “Remember, remember remember.”
  • 14. Footloose (1984)

    In a vast and arid land where dancing a rock and roll have been banned, one lone brave soul stands to lead the revolution. That soul is Kevin Bacon. Bacon’s character, Ren McCormack, plays the rebellious teenager who’s passion for dancing jolts the community back to life after their repressed, prom-less existence.

    Click here to watch the trailer for Footloose.
  • 15. Dirty Dancing (1987)

    Frances “Baby” Houseman found much more than some summer fun during her family’s vacation. Through her relationship with dance and her dance instructor (played by Patrick Swayze) she finds the strength to stand up for what (and who) she loves--against the wishes of her protective father. Remember that scene from Crazy, Stupid, Love where Ryan Gosling lifts Emma Stone into the air? He owes that move to Swayze. Before there was Gosling’s “Hey girl,” meme, there was Swayze’s, “Nobody puts baby in a corner.”

    Click here to watch Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray have the time of their lives in the final dance scene from Dirty Dancing.
  • 16. Some Like It Hot (1959)

    After witnessing a mob hit, two Chicago musicians head to Florida to join an all girl group. The catch? They’re not exactly all girl. In fact they’re not girls at all, and after hiding their identities for some time, one of the bandmates can hardly contain his affection for the one member who is definitely all woman, miss Marilyn Monroe.

    Click here to watch the trailer for Some Like It Hot.
  • 17. West Side Story (1961)

    Over 50 years after the release of West Side Story on Broadway and the big screen, the feud between rival gangs, The Jets and The Sharks is almost as famous as the rivals who inspired the story. Drawing from Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is the tale of Maria and Tony--star-crossed lover in their own right. Tony is a member of the Jets, while Maria is the younger sister of the leader of the Sharks. Spoiler: rumbles feature prominently in the film.

    Click here to watch the members of West Side Story’s cast perform, “America.”
  • 18. Hustle and Flow (2005)

    A wayward hustler dreams of getting out of his life of crime and beginning a career as a rapper. Through hardships, poor decisions, and endless denials from music industry professionals, protagonist DJay (played by Terrence Howard) refuses to give up on his passion. The independent film won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for Three 6 Mafia’s, “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp.” Did we mention Ludacris is a member of the cast? That can only give it extra points.

    Click here to watch the trailer for Hustle and Flow.
  • 19. Pirate Radio or The Boat That Rocked (2009)

    Pirate Radio, (released as The Boat That Rocked in the UK) is a film about a fictitious radio station, “Radio Rock” set in the 1960’s. Pirate radio is a term that refers to illegal or unregulated radio broadcasts. The “pirate” isn’t actually about the ocean, but some real notable offshore transmissions did exist in history. In the film, an eclectic mix of radio personalities and DJs broadcast from a boat on the open waters, fueling the love affair between rock and pop music while the British government tries to stifle their airplay.

    Watch the trailer for Pirate Radio here.

  • 20. Blues Brothers (1980)

    John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd star in the iconic musical comedy that brought a favorite SNL sketch to the big screen. Ex-con Jake “Joliet” and his brother Elwood Blues want to change their criminal ways by saving the orphanage where they both grew up. The only way to do so is to reunite their R&B band to raise the money during a live performance. The film features songs by Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and James Brown--comedy and quality.

    Watch the trailer for Blues Brothers here.