If you're the kind of person who gets more excited about say, Arnold McCuller's solo on James Taylor's "Shower The People" than actually watching James Taylor, 20 Feet From Stardom is the movie for you. Except it's all about the fantastic female backup singers who have made musical acts like the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin and Bruce Springsteen that much better.
20 Feet From Stardom tells the story of how its felt for several backup singers from the '60s to today to be that close to an astounding level of fame but not necessarily achieve it for themselves. The filmmakers interviewed everyone from Darlene Love, who has been inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, to Sheryl Crow, who once sang backup for Michael Jackson, to Merry Clayton, known for her duet with Mick Jagger on "Gimme Shelter". It's getting getting such good reviews that the New York Times wrote a whole article just on how rad its opening sequence is.
"Both times I’ve seen the film the audience broke into applause," remarked David Edelstein at New York magazine. Perhaps that's because of its unique exploration of the question of whether, as a performer, you have to be be world-famous to be happy. Or that's how the audience is responding to it, explained the director of the movie, Morgan Neville, described an incident to the New York Times:
“About a month ago," Mr. Neville said, "a guy stood up after a screening and said: 'I’m a middle manager at a company, and I’m O.K. with that. We make a good product, and I’m proud of what I do. I just realized that I’m a backup singer.'"
The film comes out in limited release this Friday.