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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 April 2019

Ariana Grande and Childish Gambino lead a pop-friendly Coachella festival line up

Pop music is in and rock'n'roll gets the back seat at the world's most influential music festival

Kevin Parker will lead his band Tame Impala in headlining performance at Coachella  (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
Kevin Parker will lead his band Tame Impala in headlining performance at Coachella  (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)

Is the world’s biggest music festival, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, losing its appeal? That answer depends on both your musical tastes and age group.

When the artist line-up was tweeted early yesterday morning UAE time, the reaction can be best described as divided.

Old school fans lamented the news that pop-singer Ariana Grande will headline the hallowed main stage at California’s Indio Polo Grounds on April 14 and 21.

Younger music goers – those excited at Grande’s inclusion in the event – took to Twitter to ask who are the April 13 and 20 headliners, the Australian cosmic-rock group Tame Impala?

As for Childish Gambino, the rapper closing the event on April 12 and 19, the reaction ranged from ecstatic to cynicism. Hip-hop fans took to social media to express their concern that he has not earned the right to take the stage that hip-hop legends Dr Dre, Jay Z, Snoop Dog and Eminem performed on in previous years.

Not that the organisers mind, the Coachella festival line up has always been the subject of intense debate, which often results in bumper sales.

The 2019 line-up also confirms organisers have been paying attention to the headwinds sweeping the music industry and created a line-up that’s cognizant of today’s musical landscape. Here are some key take-aways from the line up.

Coachella has gone pop

The major artists enlisted this year all made a major impact when it comes to either social media and streaming services.

Gambino’s succeeded in all facets with his remarkable This is America single, whose flamboyant video became a viral sensation and topping a slew of US and international charts.

As for Ariana Grande, you really can’t get any more pop than that. It will be interesting to see how the fashion savvy and painfully self-conscious Coachella crowd react to the bubble gum radio fodder of Problem and Bang Bang. That said, Grande’s latest album Thank You, Next is the most acclaimed of her career, courtesy of its adventurous songs and production. Her arrival at Coachella is a major step on her to road to being viewed as a serious artist. Festival goers want a live spectacle and Grande has the potential to deliver an eye-popping show.

Rock in a hard place

The 2019 line up continues Coachella’s move away from guitar bands. While this year’s performers Tame Impala can be classified as a rock act, their penchant for synthesisers and psychedelic elements in their live shows may not satisfy those who want their guitars loud and powerful. As a matter of fact, you would have to go back a fair way when a major headliner nearly made your ears bleed at Coachella: examples of those glory days include AC/DC's conquering slot in 2015, The Black Keys in 2012 and Kings of Leon a year prior.

The line-up is actually dynamic

The good stuff can be found deeper in the 100 plus artist line up. There you will find a dynamic array of sounds on offer from various genres. Urban music fans should rejoice at the inclusion of the exciting singer, rapper and drummer Anderson.Paak and the enigmatic RnB star HER. Hip-hop’s next big thing, the 20-year Juice Wrld, will also be appearing in addition to cult figure Kid Kudi.

On the indie end, the appearance of the brilliant alternative country music artist Kacey Musgraves, whose album Golden Hour is up for Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards next month, is well deserved.

She will be joined by rock’s favourite dorks Weezer and the ebullient synth pop-group Chvrches. Add some of the tasteful sounds of UK electronic act Fourtet and the experimental sonic landscapes of veteran producer Aphex Twin and you got a pretty well rounded line-up.

The Coachella effect

A solid Coachella performance means internet and industry buzz, which often leads to more tour opportunities and sell out shows.

Such was the case for Lady Gaga, whose 2017 headline appearance at the festival went on to help in selling out her US tour which began a few months later.

Last year’s performers, UK funk group Jamiroquai told The National that their festival slot was the launch pad for their best US tour in a decade.

When it comes to this year, one act poised to use the Coachella main stage as centre-piece of its plans for world domination is Black Pink. The all-girl group will be the first ever K-Pop act to perform in Coachella, signalling the genre’s strength as a global concert draw card. Another one of their colourful performances in California and Black Pink are set to become a pop phenomenon this year.

Coachella runs on April 12-14 and April 19-21 at Empire Polo Club, Indio California. Tickets go on sale on January 4 at 11pm UAE time. Tickets begin from Dh 1,575 from www.coachella.com

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Updated: January 4, 2019 11:22 AM

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