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Seven Burning Questions for Coachella 2017

Lady Gaga performs during the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl 51 Halftime Show at NRG Stadium on Feb. 5, 2017 in Houston.
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Lady Gaga performs during the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl 51 Halftime Show at NRG Stadium on Feb. 5, 2017 in Houston. 

With Coachella 2017 about to officially kick off, we’re on the edge of glory, as a certain headliner might say… and dealing with a ton of questions regarding the hundreds of performers this year. There are a few details that are pretty much guaranteed at this point -- DJ Khaled will bring some major keys to Coachella, flower crowns will be involved, there will be signs mourning Beyoncé’s cancellation, etc. -- but others that we can’t wait to have answered this weekend and next.

Presenting the seven burning question for this year’s Coachella:

How much of DAMN. (or… something else that’s new) is Kendrick Lamar going to tear through?

Rumors are swirling that Kendrick Lamar will release another album on Sunday, in time for his first Coachella headlining set… but even if that is just a myth circulating the World Wide Web, one has to wonder how much of his scorching new album DAMN. will be performed live for the first time. “DNA.” and “Humble." have to be played, right? What about “Element.” and “Duckworth.”? Will U2 join live via satellite for “XXX.”? Remember, he’s only got a few hours, and a few other classic LPs under his belt. This is now the most-hyped performance of the weekend, but how new-school Kendrick goes at Coachella remains to be seen.

How will Lady Gaga be embraced by Coachella?

Lady Gaga is a massive superstar, but it’s worth remembering that she’ll be out of her element on Saturday night. Coachella has never booked a mainstream pop vocalist as a headliner, and it didn’t even book her exactly -- Gaga, of course, is the replacement for a pregnant Beyoncé this year. Gaga will draw a huge crowd, but it will be interesting to see how many people stay through the whole extravaganza instead of wandering off for other sets (including Gucci Mane in the dance tent). At the very least, expect every paw within Indio to be up for “Born This Way”… and perhaps an even more overtly political statement from Gaga following some subtle messaging at the Super Bowl.

What deep cut is Radiohead going to play?

Thom Yorke and co. have been adding some choice material into their latest set lists following last year’s A Moon Shaped Pool album, including “Morning Bell,” “House of Cards” and “The Tourist” (!!). The last time Radiohead headlined Coachella was in 2012, and the group was absolutely mesmerizing; no matter what they perform will be worth seeing, but an unexpected blast from the past (maybe a little-played Bends track?) will make it all the more worthwhile for die-hards making the trek.

How much new material will Lorde unveil?

Coachella marks Lorde’s first proper set in years, and after she performed new tracks “Green Light” and “Liability” on Saturday Night Live, expect to hear both in the desert come Sunday. But how much more of Melodrama is the New Zealand chanteuse going to unveil? Will we be getting studio versions of whatever new song(s) Lorde performs soon after Coachella? After two tastes of one of the most anticipated albums of 2017, onlookers are hungry for more, and we’ll soon see if Lorde gives us what we want.

What is Hans Zimmer going to do?

Coachella always loves throwing in a completely unexpected booking near the top of the lineup -- remember when Steely Dan played two years ago? -- and seeing the name of a legendary German film composer on the 2017 bill is worth applauding. So, um… what’s that going to be like? Will it be a pastiche of some of the most recognizable film music of the past 30 years? (Probably.) Is Hans just going to keep playing the “BONNNNNNNNG” noise from the Inception score for an hour? (Hopefully.) Will Zimmer screen select scenes from his most recent cinematic triumph, The Boss Baby? (Hard to say.) This is the most hard-to-predict performance of the weekend, and we’re all for exploring the unknown.

What non-headliner act is everyone going to be talking about?

It’s always the question that artists written in tiny font on the Coachella lineup want to enthusiastically answer. Last year brought artists like The Chainsmokers, Run the Jewels (with a Bernie Sanders intro!), Halsey and Anderson .Paak into focus on a national stage. This year, keep your eyes peeled for Nav, who’s got a slick hit single with label boss The Weeknd; Grace Mitchell, one of the more sonically adventurous pop artists to emerge in the past two years; Marshmello, an EDM god ready to shake up the mainstream; and Bishop Briggs, a potential tsunami at alternative radio.

Who is the most essential act before dinnertime each day?

If you’re thinking about heading to the festival in the late afternoon to beat the heat, allow these artists to make you reconsider. On Friday, grime kingpin Stormzy kicks off the Outdoor Theatre stage at 3 p.m., and with a vibrant debut LP and live show that doesn’t come over to the States too often, you have to be there. End brunch early on Saturday to arrive in time for indie breakthrough Mitski at 2:45 p.m., and if you’re not there for Lil Uzi Vert’s dance tent performance at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, you’ll be kicking yourself for missing out on the biggest new star in hip-hop this year.

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