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Coachella 2023 Recap: Headliners

Edited by: Brianna Garza

Coachella headliners Bad Bunny, Frank Ocean and BLACKPINK singing
Bad Bunny, Frank Ocean, and BLACKPINK made history as the event's first non-white headliners. Photo from Rolling Stone

Set in the middle of springtime, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival never fails to bring in a wave of excitement and euphoria to music lovers nationwide. Held over the course of two weekends, April 14-16 and April 21-23, people gather at Empire Polo Club in Indio, California to see all of their favorite musicians perform live. This year, artists Bad Bunny, BLACKPINK, and Frank Ocean made history as being the first and most diverse group to headline this marquee event.

Bad Bunny, a Puerto Rican singer and rapper whose stardom can be much accredited to his Grammy award-winning album, Un Verano Sin Ti, became the first Latino solo artist to ever headline Coachella. His electric set energized fans as he brought out a series of singers to accompany him on stage: Arcángel to perform 'La Jumpa,' a masterful combo of house and drill, Jhayco to sing 'Dákiti,' 'Tarot,' 'No Me Conoce' and many more. Additionally, he paid homage to not only his culture, but Mexico’s as well. Dawned in full rancho attire; all denim clothing, a tejana hat, and cowboy boots, Bad Bunny was joined by Grupo Frontera to perform the Spanish-language ballad 'un x100to' (read as “1%” in Spanish) which quickly climbed the global charts. Coachella oversaw a number of Latinx artists such as Becky G, Kali Uchis, Eladio Carrión, and more. Spanish singer and artist, Rosalía, brought out her fiancé and famous reggaetón artist, Rauw Alejandro, who received many cheers and screams from the crowd. The couples’ insurmountable chemistry has gained wide recognition, especially following their joint collaboration album, RЯ which famously announced their engagement. This talented lineup surpassed all expectations and came together to celebrate the beauty of Latin American and Hispanic culture, creating a memorable event for all.

BLACKPINK, a South Korean girl group known for their high-energy performances and intricate choreography, became the first Korean act to ever headline Coachella. They spanned their entire discography, performing early hits such as 'Forever Young' and 'Whistle' to recent fan favorites, 'Pink Venom' and 'Shut Down.' Each bandmate had a fair share of the spotlight, singing along to their own hits including Jisoo’s 'Flower,' Lisa’s 'Money,' Jennie’s 'You & Me,' and Rosé’s 'On the Ground.' Their captivating stage presence featuring pink cloud-like haze and stylish outfits mesmerized those in-person as well as those online. Data shows that they may even be the most live-streamed act in Coachella’s history. Although they debuted on the Sahara stage in 2019, this year’s event amassed global praise with the hashtag PINKCHELLA trending on Twitter. Despite South Korea being the epicenter of K-pop, its outreach transcends the country’s borders, reaching a broad range of audiences. K-pop has been a beloved genre for many years, but according to Spotify, it has recently averaged about 7.67 billion streams worldwide. This historical event can be attributed to the continued globalization of music and the significant contribution Korean-language songs have in doing so. Extending heartfelt gratitude to their fan base, BLINKs, Rosé rightly expressed, "We are forever grateful…the reason why all four of us are here is because of you.”

To many people’s surprise, Frank Ocean, the third and final headliner, returned to the stage after six years of not performing live. Although it did not go as satisfyingly as many had hoped, his performance was still momentous for fans who long awaited the end of his hiatus. As a creative choice, Ocean sang his classic hits, but with a twist: a stripped-down, acoustic version of 'Pink + White,' a turnt-up remix of 'Solo,' a drill edit of 'Chanel,' and more. Despite the controversy and confusion surrounding his performances, which ended abruptly due to curfew, supporters empathized with the artist, citing his brother’s passing in 2020 as being the reason for his general demeanor that many people criticized as being lackluster and unorganized. However, his leg injury seemed to further upset others as it was later announced he would not return for the second weekend. While this sudden change of events added a bit of tension, Blink-182 quickly filled in for Ocean as a last-minute addition. Regardless of the situation, disappointment managed to subside as the festival continued. Labrinth, widely known for producing the score for HBO Max’s Euphoria, brought in Zendaya as a surprise guest to perform 'I’m Tired' and 'All of Us.' The crowd became reinvigorated and euphoric once again.

The end of two long, successful weekends has left people filled with much hope as Coachella 2023 shedded light on talented and diverse musicians across the globe. If there is one thing about music, it is that it allows different backgrounds and cultures to converge and create a beautiful abstract sound that makes people feel seen. It reminds us that the troubles and passing anxieties of the world are not enough to dispel our shared love for music.


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