Grab your flower crowns and bandanas: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is back in full force, with weekend one kicking off on Friday (April 12), playing host to headliners Ariana Grande, Tame Impala and Childish Gambino. Each year of the annual desert music fest brings a new set of surprises — here are 10 of the sights and sounds that we can’t wait to witness in 2019.
Billie Eilish’s Coachella debut
Fresh off the March 29 release of her record-breaking debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, which entered at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, anti-pop superstar Billie Eilish will grace the Coachella stage for the first time on Saturday (April 13). It’ll no doubt be satisfying to watch Eilish bask in When We All Fall Asleep‘s glory, and with a prime nighttime slot squeezed between Weezer and headliner Tame Impala, Eilish is the only Saturday act with zero set time conflicts, which should make her set all the more of a must-see. Good thing she knows how to put on a show: The 17-year-old prodigy is known for setups that include sharp choreography (Eilish was a trained dancer before she was a singer), haunting visuals and mandatory mosh pits, with her brother and collaborator FINNEAS a crucial part of the band. — TATIANA CIRISANO
The rise of Afrobeat
Reggaetón and K-pop have further establishes their respective presences in the mainstream, and now it’s time for Afrobeat to get its shine. The style has been slowly trickling into popular music and proved to be successful (as we’ve seen with French Montana and Swae Lee‘s 2017 “Unforgettable” collaboration). This year, Coachella is taking note of its strides and booked Nigerian singers Burna Boy and Mr. Eazi, yet another example of how festivals are becoming a melting pot of global music. — BIANCA GRACIE
The surprise guests
Will Khalid hop onstage with Eilish — or vice versa — to perform their collab “Lovely”? Might Latin superstar J Balvin bring out one of his many recent collaborators — fingers crossed for Selena Gomez, who he teamed with for “Can’t Get Enough” in February — during his set? And what special guests can’t we expect from headliner and Pop Star of The Moment Ariana Grande, who recently revealed she’s a huge fan of fellow fest performers BLACKPINK? With collaborations ever more common in 2019’s genre-bending music world, it’s all potentially in the cards. — T.C.
R&B’s leading ladies
Remember when festivals were all about electric guitars and shirtless rock n’ roll frontmen? Thankfully the performance space has expanded to include all facets of the music spectrum, and this year at Coachella, R&B is getting a major push. The genre is heavily featured on the stacked roster, but it’s especially exciting to see how many women are getting to represent for R&B. From the throwback vibes that Ella Mai brings, Janelle Monaé‘s experimental get-ups to Sabrina Claudio‘s sensual bedroom-friendly ballads and H.E.R.’s soulful croons that will likely make everyone want to fall in love on the field, there’s a little something for all R&B lovers. — B.G.
The festival’s Latin takeover…
It’s no secret that Latin music has been impacting U.S. pop charts like never before — and this year, Coachella spotlights a seemingly unprecedented group of Latin superstars, hailing from a diverse range of genres and backgrounds. While Balvin is on hand to rep Colombia with eclectic reggaeton beats, Puerto Rican trap hitmaker Bad Bunny will bring his sprawling, widely acclaimed album X100PRE to the stage, and Rosalía will provide flamenco flavor from Spain. Elsewhere on the lineup are Chilean singer Mon Laferte and regional Mexican act Tucanes de Tijuana, as well as alternative artists Javiera Mena, Tomasa del Real and Ocho Ojos. — T.C.
…and other global sounds, too
Speaking of which, Japanese pop group Perfume and Korean sensation BLACKPINK are both on this year’s bill, rounding out what is Coachella’s most diverse lineup in recent memory. Couple that with the fest’s Latin roster and other performers like Christine & the Queens‘ Héloïse Letissier, who sings in her native French, and festivalgoers can expect to hear several different languages on Coachella stages this year. — T.C.
The ancipation of Tierra Whack
Tierra Whack already proved her genius with last May’s Whack World, and she followed it up with her own spin on Black History Month, a series of singles aptly titled “Whack History Month.” The Grammy-nominated Philadelphia rapper has dropped a hefty supply of tunes, including “Unemployed” and “Clones,” so it’ll be fun to see how she plans to bring those songs to life. Most importantly, will someone dressed as a potato make an appearance? — B.G.
Childish Gambino’s Guava Island
Fans were sent into a frenzy late last summer when a photo of Rihanna and Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino) in Cuba popped up online, stirring up rumors that the dream team were working on a project. Details of that project — which is really the short film Guava Island — are finally starting to emerge, including that it will premiere on Saturday’s Coachella YouTube live stream after arriving on Amazon Prime. Directed by Glover’s Atlanta and “This Is America” music video director Hiro Murai, the “tropical thriller” is also raising speculation that Gambino, who headlines on Friday, will drop a visual album sometime this year. Let’s be honest: Anything involving Gambino and Rihanna, we’re interested. — T.C.
The otherworldly stage setups
The stages at Coacehella are imaginative enough to let these artists’ creativity fly, so it’ll be fun to see what they have planned when it comes to stage design. Will J Balvin bring that epic neon dinosaur from his Vibras tour? Will Kacey Musgraves cover her set with rainbows? Will Ariana Grande create a sea of sparkly lights while fans sing along to “Thank U, Next”? We just have to wait and see! — B.G.
The excitement is high to see Tame Impala at Coachella this weekend, as the Australian psychedelic-rock band will be making a comeback to the festival after last performing in 2015. Kid Cudi will also be returning to the festival after last performing in 2017, and hopefully he brings some surprise guests along. — B.G.