The lineup for this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival — North America’s largest music fest, with 125,000 attendees per day — has finally been announced. And it’s a historic bill, the most diverse to date: For the first time since the festival launched in 1999, a Latin music artist and a K-pop act will be headlining.
Those headliners, Puerto Rican trap/reggaeton superstar Bad Bunny and girl group BLACKPINK, both played Coachella before, in 2019 — Bad Bunny, on a Sunday afternoon leading up to Ariana Grande's headlining set, and BLACKPINK, with a buzzy live-streamed spectacle in the dance-centric Sahara Tent. But never before has any Latin or K-pop act received Coachella’s all-important large-font billing.
In 2019, BLACKPINK’s Coachella show was not only their first full U.S. public performance, but it marked the first time that any Coachella set had been simultaneously broadcast in New York City’s Times Square. This year, when the South Korean quartet of Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa graduates to the main stage on Saturday — widely considered the festival’s most coveted and prestigious slot — they will continue to make Coachella history not only as the festival’s first K-pop headliner, but as the first Asian headliner of any genre, as well as the first-ever girl group to headline. (In general, very few female acts have received top billing at Coachella; the only others to share that honor are Björk, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, and Billie Eilish.)
As for Bad Bunny, aka Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, who’ll play Friday, he will not only be the first Latin music artist, but also the first Spanish-language artist, to headline Coachella — a much-deserved slot, given that he was Spotify’s overall most-streamed artist in 2022.
Headlining Sunday will be reclusive rapper Frank Ocean, aka Christopher Edwin Breaux, who was supposed to play Coachella 2020 before it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and disappointingly was not on the bill when the festival returned to Indio, Calif.’s Empire Polo Club in 2022. Ocean has not performed since March 2019 (his last Southern California concert was even longer ago, at Los Angeles’s FYF Festival in July 2017), and has not released an album since 2016’s Blonde and Endless. Therefore, hopes that Ocean will debut new material at the April festival — or drop an album before then — run high among fans.
With Ocean’s booking completing the trifecta, this means that 2023 is the first year that Coachella will be headlined entirely by people of color. Other international acts further diversifying the lineup include Spanish pop sensation Rosalía, British-Indian electronic artist Jai Paul, and Nigerian Afrobeat star Burna Boy; other women on the bill include Boygenius (a supergroup comprising Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker), Charli XCX, Latto, the Linda Lindas, Becky G, Willow, Christine and the Queens, Weyes Blood, Kali Uchis, Sudan Archives, Muna, and Snail Mail, plus heritage acts Blondie, the Breeders, and above-mentioned Icelandic icon Björk. The lineup is, as would be expected in the fest’s 22nd installment, quite young-skewing, but other veteran artists include the Chemical Brothers, Underworld, and Gorillaz, whose frontman Damon Albarn joined Billie Eilish in a surprise cameo last year.
Another Coachella regular, superstar DJ Calvin Harris, appears at the bottom of this year’s poster with a yet-to-be-announced slot — the same way that Swedish House Mafia were mysteriously billed last year, before they were moved to Sunday’s main stage after Ye (then known as Kanye West) canceled at the last minute. Industry pundits are already speculating that Harris’s booking has a similar motive, in case the unpredictable Ocean (who pulled out of the 2015 FYF Festival with just a few days’ notice and was, ironically, replaced by Ye) bails this year.
The 2023 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival will take place April 14-16 and April 21-23 at Indio’s Empire Polo Grounds, with YouTube returning as the exclusive livestream partner for both weekends. For more information, go to coachella.com.
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