Coachella 2018 is Confusing
On January 2nd, Coachella announced their 2018 lineup, and with that, thousands of millennials googled Jamiroquai. Not to take away from the British funk act, it just comes as a to surprise to most. However, to be fair, the entire Coachella lineup is quite the head-scratcher.
The first thing to pop out are the headliners; Goldenvoice decided to book only R&B and hip-hop acts this year with The Weeknd, Beyoncé, and Eminem. Beyoncé wasn’t surprising given how last year she was announced in 2018, as Lady Gaga replaced her slated 2017 performance due to Bey’s pregnancy. While Em does make some sense given he just dropped his (questionable) new album, Revival, but The Weeknd is severely a weird choice.
While Abel can play big venues like The Forum, he certainly isn’t anything to write home about. Still, on support of his 2016 release Starboy, it’s kind of a stretch to see him over another rock or pop act who has newer music to support. Justin Timberlake just announced his next album, Man of the Woods, for a February release date and has never done the desert fest. Metallica dropped an album last year, and while they tour a lot, plenty of Coachella fans would be excited to see a band they probably would never witness otherwise. Even Frank Ocean would have made more sense than The Weeknd. While Frank also hasn’t released an album since 2016, he rarely does shows, and Frank recently hinted on his Tumblr, he has something cooking in 2018. So, why book someone who played the festival in 2015 over someone who’s never done Coachella?
The festival has evolved into a vertical hype machine, and this years line up only backs up that thesis. There’s no denying that SZA and Cardi B are huge, but do either deserve to be that high on the bill, really? Not to discredit any artists’ musical talents, but the lack of heavy hitters, especially compared to last year, is unusual to say the least. Last year Justice and New Order were sitting in the same spot that Portugal. the Man and Migos are in this year. Neither Portugal or Migos are a Justice. Looking back at the Coachella lineup in five years, this year is gonna look incredibly dated.
Maybe only a handful of artists on the top row feel like they belong there. As happy as it is to see someone like Vince Staples, The War on Drugs or Miguel shine with a good time slot and a big stage, you could still see both of them at a smaller venue. Even some of the second line artist seem built on hype. Daniel Caesar and Kamasi Washington are fantastic, but it’d be a lie to say they aren’t “in” artist right now. Goldenvoice is either hedging that these acts will be topliners in five years or have no clue anymore. Back to Cardi B and someone like Kali Uchis, neither have even put out an album yet. Hopefully we see one by April from both, but it just feels like Coachella chose what’s trending versus getting the legendary artists who people will talk about for years.
It’s not to say these artists aren’t there. David Bryne and Los Ángeles Azules are both legacy acts that shouldn’t be missed. Even acts like Chic and going back to Jamiroquai will probably be fun and exciting to see. The days of Rage Against the Machine reuniting, or legends like Paul McCartny performing, but who knows, maybe Jamiroquai will pull off a Daft Punk and be the most talked about performance this year.
Coachella this year is one of those years that’s making everyone go, “What the fuck?” Regardless, April is only three months away, and everyone has plenty of time to cop Travelling Without Moving, and learn how to two-step to “17 Años.”