Title: “20 Feet from Stardom”
Director: Morgan Neville
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
When you listen to a piece of pop music, we often hear the vocals, drums, guitar, etc. However, an integral part of the musical experience are the backup singers. But who are they?
“20 Feet from Stardom” attempts to answer this question. Following the lives of several of the most popular backup singers, including Darlene Love, Judith Hill, and Táta Vega, among many others, this film chronicles their careers as backup singers and their attempts, in some cases, to have successful careers as lead singers.
It’s a fascinating look into an aspect of music that many of us probably don’t think much about consciously, although we recognize it when it’s pointed out. Profiling these singers and the famous songs they’ve worked on, it makes you say, “Hey, I remember that part!”
This film is highly entertaining, but isn’t quite the feel good documentary that last year’s “Searching for Sugar Man” was, a film to which this one will draw obvious comparisons. The reason I don’t say it’s feel good is that, while entertaining, it is also frustrating when they show how several of these clearly talented artist tried to make it as lead singers and fell flat on their faces. It’s hopeful but frustrating at the same time. The film’s editing also leaves a bit to be desired, jumping between viewpoints or following different personalities without warning, and feeling like you’re in a bumper car getting smacked back and forth at times.
At the same time, “20 Feet from Stardom” shines a spotlight on talent that should be more highly recognized, and as such gives them the recognition they deserve, even if just for 90 minutes.
“20 Feet from Stardom” earns 3.5 out of 5 stars.