After weeks of rumours about who will be gracing Indio in April, the Coachella lineup has finally been announced. As well as unveiling headliners Rage Against The Machine, Travis Scott, and Frank Ocean, it brings with it a ton of talking points to debate, discuss and digest before the double weekenders return later this year.
What the hell does Lana Del Rey have to do to get a headline slot?
Lana Del Rey is one of the biggest, most respected musicians in the world. Last year she released a career-high album in ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell!’ She’s a proven festival headliner with an immense back catalogue to draw from. If she so chose, she could invite any number of high profile guests to join her – equally, she could also put in a stunning performance all on her own. Her whole aesthetic feels like a divine match for Coachella – she’s even released a song called ‘Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind’. And yet! This year’s headliners are three male acts – quelle surprise – with Lana immediately beneath Frank Ocean. What does she have to do to bag the top spot for herself?
BIGBANG are back – minus Seungri
K-pop fans were greeted with a surprise when the Coachella 2020 line-up was announced this morning – the inclusion of legends BIGBANG. The group haven’t toured since 2017, last released a track with 2018’s ‘Flower Road’, and were rumoured to be on the verge of breaking up after member Seungri quit the industry following his alleged involvement in the Burning Sun scandal last year. Yet there are, sitting on the top line of Friday’s bill alongside the likes of Megan Thee Stallion, Calvin Harris, and Run The Jewels. Their Coachella sets will be their first as a four-piece. It could well signal new music on the horizon.
IDLES vs Sleaford Mods
Last year, IDLES and Sleaford Mods came to blows when the Nottingham duo accused the Bristol punks of “class appropriation”. Both are playing on the same day at Coachella, which could give the desert location more of a Wild West battleground atmosphere should they run into each other backstage. Let’s be honest though – if anything does happen on the day, it’ll be barked down a microphone on stage, or hurriedly tweeted into a digital cesspool rather than taking the form of a real-life brawl.
The holograms are coming
Coachella is no stranger to holograms being beamed onto its stages. Who can forget that hilariously bad Tupac “cameo” during Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s joint set in 2012? Eight years later, the Californian festival looks set to have its first truly impressive hologram moment with Hatsune Miku, a Japanese pop star who only exists as a collection of virtual light beams and “Vocaloid” synthesiser software. Yes, while the west has been dicking around with “robot” pop stars like Poppy and Lil Miquela, Japan has been busy creating a truly digital pop phenomenon who’s already supported Lady Gaga and performed on The Late Show with David Letterman.
Danny Elfman could be the festival’s most bizarre booking
For the most part, the Coachella line-up is made up of names you would expect to see playing a major festival in 2020. But nestled into the top line on Saturday is one true surprise – composer Danny Elfman. Just the image of the musician dropping the Batman or The Simpsons theme tunes to loads of neon athleisure-wearing teens huffing on Juuls is certainly something and the reality will likely be just as bizarre.
Does the line-up signal any big album returns for 2020?
On the Coachella 2020 poster, you might notice a handful of big names who have been relatively quiet of late or who have yet to announce new albums. Disclosure haven’t put out a record since 2015’s ‘Caracal’ but spent most of last year dashing around festivals – could they be about to treat us to a new album?
Similarly, Run The Jewels’ last release came with ‘RTJ 3’ in 2016. They’ve confirmed they’ve been working on the follow-up but have yet to share a release date. Their Coachella set could give us a glimpse into the new project and signal its imminent arrival. Meanwhile, headliner Frank Ocean also hasn’t put out a full-length project since 2016’s ‘Blonde’. The desert stage would be the perfect place for him to debut new material.
88rising are taking over
88rising might be billed as a mass media company but don’t think that means they’re not one of the most on-the-pulse record labels, promoters, and festival organisers (Head In The Clouds) in the game. Home to artists like Japanese R&B singer Joji, Korean rapper Keith Ape, Indonesian singer NIKI, and Chinese hip-hop group Higher Brothers, the company has spent the last five years building a forward-thinking roster that they’re now bringing to Indio this April. Some of their acts (like Joji, NIKI, and Indonesian hip-hop star Rich Brian) are on the line-up in their own right, but Saturday will also boasts “something special” in 88rising’s Double Happiness. The exact details for that have yet to be announced but expect it to be some kind of celebratory coming together of artists under its banner. There’s potential for some surprise guests too – Charli XCX and Ski Mask The Slump God have both joined in the fun on 88rising’s past tours.
Is Coachella the most globally diverse festival around?
A quick glance at the 2020 line-up reveals one thing – there are artists from all over the world heading to California this spring. America and the UK aside, there are acts representing Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Russia, China, Australia, Turkey, Jamaica, Spain, Norway, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, France, and more set to play, making it perhaps the strongest reflection of the globalisation of music in festival billing yet.
There’s plenty of hidden gems to discover
As ever, Coachella isn’t just about the big-name acts and headliners. This year’s bill, in particular, is stacked with hidden gems that you won’t want to miss: whether you’re there in person, or just tuning in to the livestream. Here are five picks to add to your schedule now.
Korean hip-hop group Epik High were the first major Korean group to play Coachella back in 2016, winning over a crowd of thousands early in the afternoon. Their return should be an even bigger moment for the trio – interest in Korean music is at an all-time high and last year’s ‘Sleepless In __________’ EP showed these veterans of the Hallyu scene have perfected their mix of emotion-led rap.
Get ready to mosh – Aussie garage-punks Skeggs are the kind of energetic whirlwind of a band that can get even the cooler-than-cool crowds acting like they’re at a raging house party in a teen movie. Sack off the flower crowns, and expect your festival look to be very, very scruffy after their set.
100 gecs – aka LA’s Dylan Brady and Chicago’s Laura Les – are the next step in pop’s evolution from PC Music’s warped electronic domination. Songs like ‘Money Machine’ and ‘Stupid Horse’ are discordant and brittle, but layered with sickly sweet pop melodies. It shouldn’t work, but it really, really does.
This Brooklyn four-piece make the kind of woozy, dazed psych-pop that will work perfectly in the desert. Songs like the jazzy ‘Nina’ or the wobbly ‘Fall Down’ glitter like mirages under a setting sun, while Crumb’s low-key, quiet style is well-suited for easing you into the last day of a festival.
On her debut album ‘Lucid’, R&B singer Raveena aimed to create something healing – both for her and her listeners. The beautiful, tranquil float of that record should make her first performance at Coachella a soft, comforting space to escape the usual festival madness.