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Lana Del Rey

Music docs that need to get made

Lana Del Rey’s trailer-park roots and RuPaul before his Drag Race? Here’s our dream list of silver-screen scenarios

This year has seen an avalanche of music documentaries, with mixed results: Asif Kapada’s heart-breaking portrayal of Amy Winehouse was loved at Cannes and loathed by her father, Brett Morgan’s illustrative and ambitious Kurt Cobain biopic Montage of Heck premiered to a lukewarm reception, Britain’s riot grrrl mothers The Slits received the biopic treatment via a Kickstarter campaign and an Elliott Smith doc pandered to his fandom. And this is without mentioning music docs that have been given the go-ahead, from Grace Jones, Daft Punk, Rihanna and that M.I.A. documentary that we’ve been waiting for since the director leaked the teaser, quit the project, then started it up again this year. But what about all the other iconic musical moments that deserve to be brought to the big screen? From Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe’s love story to Rupaul’s early genderfuck bands, here’s a fantastical list of screen suggestions. 


Now the poster girl for faded Hollywood glamour, Lana Del Rey used to live in a trailer park in the New York suburbs back when she was called Lizzie Grant. “The fact is that I always thought it was a dream,” Lana told Index magazine about those days. “It was the first place that was mine. And the people… it's a real community. People decorate their homes.” Whilst there might not be much narrative material there, we can't help but shake the thought of a fly-on-the-wall vision of when Lana was Lizzie. 


When Lifetime’s film Aaliyah: Princess of R&B came out, her fans hated it, her family hated it, Missy Elliott hated it, Timbaland hated it…in fact, there wasn’t a single person who seemed to be into it, and most of these criticisms were pointed at the fact it was inauthentic. We think a documentary should have been made about R Kelly and Aaliyah’s fake wedding instead, when they eloped to Illinois and illegally tied the knot in 1994 like some creepy Shakespeare re-enactment. As Aaliyah was only 15, her parents annulled the marriage a year later.


Long before the reigning drag queen superstar was telling his girls to lip sync for their lives on RuPaul’s Drag Race, he was fronting the riotous punk band Wee Wee Pole and performing in clubs around Georgia and throughout downtown New York. “I’ve always been drawn to people who dance to the beat of a different drum,” RuPaul told us in an interview last month. “It didn’t matter if they were in film or music or fashion.” We happen to agree, which is why we think RuPaul’s early musical moments deserve the documentary treatment.


Patti Smith’s Just Kids is everyone’s favourite book, even to those who don’t read books. Immersive and romantically bohemian, the memoir focuses on the unique relationship between Patti Smith and New York photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, up until he passed away in 1989 during the AIDs epidemic. And whilst her vivid poeticisms spring off the page in Technicolor, we think the true story would translate onto the screen beautifully.


Before Courtney Love started playing sludgy, grunge tunes in Hole and after she got rejected from the Mickey Mouse Club for reading a Sylvia Plath poem at her audition, she was spinning around a pole on the Hollywood Boulevard at strip club Jumbo’s Clown Room. “I was able to do the kind of stripper economy which is… for every $5 I made, I would give Eric Erlandson $3 and that’s how we bought our van and our backline,” she told LA weekly. “You have to be really savvy to do it.” Now that’s something we’d like to see a documentary about.


The story of Sonic Youth’s bassist and frontwoman Kim Gordon is the story we all want to inhabit, from the pedal-heavy, noise rock sounds of her band, to her cult 90’s fashion label, her Saint Laurent collabs and her vocal feminism. And although she has translated all of this onto the pages of her memoir Girl in a Band, nothing would beat seeing it played out on the big screen, crammed between live archival footage of Sonic Youth and set to the soundtrack of Daydream Nation.


Way back when we published our DA-Zed guide to riot grrrl, Bratmobile musican Allison Wolfe was right at the top of the list, and not just because her name starts with the letter 'A'. We would love to watch a documentary tracing the life of the trailblazer, who grew up in Olympia with a radical feminist lesbian mum, would go on to make the legendary Girl Germs zines and be a central force in the the riot grrrl movement.


People still love to crack jokes about that Hannah Montana-gone-bad foam finger fiasco at the VMA’s and the tongue-wagging, crotch-thrusting, Sinead O’Connor-busting moments that followed. Except, she’s actually kind of cool now – even Kathleen Hanna wants to make a record with her – and her work for LGBTQ youth is beyond inspiring. We’d like to see the steps that took her from Nashville to Joan Jett in a series of Miley-themed, archival montages.


It’s about time somebody made a documentary about rap-rave crew Die Antwoord, following their other-dimensional visuals, insane performances and how they took zef culture and flipped it onto it’s head. “Zef is like dirt, it’s like scum, there was no zef movement before we came along,” Ninja told us in our Spring 2015 issue of Dazed. “We made it into a fucking movement.” That deserves its place on the big screen.


Korea’s most directional and fashion-forward K-Pop queen, CL, has been making the move stateside this year after conquering Asia with her girl group 2NE1, and last month she dropped the massive single “Doctor Pepper” with Diplo, RiFF RAFF and OG Maco. But what we want to know is – how is she finding it? Whilst she’s probably too busy to deliver a day-by-day video diary, sewed together documentary-style, we can still wish.