Beyoncé stopped the music-listening world for the second time with the same live set this Wednesday (Apr. 17), by not only unleashing the Homecoming Netflix special focusing on her instantly legendary headlining set from the 2018 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, but also releasing a previously unannounced audio version of the set to all major streaming services.
The unexpected drop of the live set has us at Billboard thinking all about some of our favorite live albums today — but also taking inventory of which major artists of recent years are calling out for a similarly definitive live set. Here, six of our staffers make their picks for the artist (and/or specific concert) who ought to be getting their own Homecoming in the not-too-distant future.
Hilary Hughes: Lady Gaga’s voice is preternaturally suited for reaching the back rows of amphitheaters and arenas and bowling over their inhabitants. Footage of her performances, let alone the experience of seeing her live and in the flesh, offers so much more to the listener than her standard studio tracks — and that’s why it’s downright bewildering that she hasn’t recorded a live album.
Her exceptional technique and artistry provide the backbone of her records, of course, but live, Gaga flourishes, ever the theater-kid-turned-pop-goddess in an environment she manifested. She understands that the stage presents ample opportunity for raw, improvised spins on even more most well-known material and delights in flaunting her ability to do so. (Her penchant for banter, which she’s perfected in the intimate confines of her Enigma and Jazz & Piano Las Vegas residencies, gives a personal touch her albums don’t.)
Rarely does she sing one tune the same way twice, and listening through the glorious chorus of “Yoü and I” as she’s pounds away at the piano in the center of a cavernous space is enough to fall down a YouTube rabbit hole of her greatest moments on tour. Hell, even her most recent triumph, “Shallow,” eclipsed the superlative studio version of the A Star Is Born single when she and Bradley Cooper delivered a stunning rendition of it at the 2019 Academy Awards. Any recorded output from Gaga is a masterclass in challenging, ingeniously executed pop, but a live album could marry her acumen in the studio and the vocal voltage of her live show with game-changing results.
Chris Payne: The answer is Post Malone, and no, I’m not fucking with you. A Post Malone live album is actually an awesome thing everyone would love.
Live albums are awesome because they get to pick and choose the best bits of an artist’s catalog, kind of like a greatest hits, but with room for some covers, special guests, in-concert improvising, things like that. Post Malone albums are notoriously long and overstuffed, but what if there was a curated selection of say, his twelve best songs (most of which are hits we all know), performed for an arena crowd by an artist who’s actually a very talented guitarist and vocalist? “White Iverson,” “Rockstar,” “Congratulations,” “Go Flex,” “Better Now,” “Psycho,” along with acoustic singalongs of “Stay” and “I Fall Apart” and some goofy covers of Bon Jovi and Nirvana? With a surprise cameo from Drake, Bieber, all of Aerosmith? I’m starting to get bummed this doesn’t actually exist.
And if you think I suck and have no taste for suggesting Post Malone, just picture I said “Adele” instead.
Jason Lipshutz: I say Robyn. The Swedish star’s career spans over two decades and multiple incarnations, from teen upstart to Europop trendsetter to U.S. headliner; throughout it all, Robyn has remained a dynamic live artist who knows when to deliver a straightforward rendition and when to draw out a dance beat in order to start a party. As her ongoing Honey tour has demonstrated, Robyn now possesses a tremendous back catalog to match her stage energy. If for no other reason, we need a Robyn live album to bottle up the unbelievable dance mix of “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do.”
Ross Scarano: Frank Ocean performs live so infrequently, it’s perhaps counterintuitive to ask for a live album — a definitive one, at that. Has he mastered the form? Is music as introspective and quiet as his, especially lately, best served by such a thing?
If the audio for his show on July 28, 2017 at Panorama Music Festival in New York were made available tomorrow, it would make the case. The Friday night concert wasn’t the flawless display of capability that Homecoming is, but it does capture what turns Ocean fans into obsessives: he tinkers and experiments, restarts songs and gives us new verses and arrangements. If Homecoming is a perfect lesson, Live at Panorama is the privilege of time spent in the workshop of Frank Ocean’s head.
It would be ideal as a documentary, but listening to his cover of the Jackson 5’s “Never Can Say Goodbye” or the devastating “Higgs” from Endless while knowing that he performed in massive over-the-ear Vic Firth headphones still conveys the sense of privacy that is crucial to his appeal. Still closed off in a profound way, he let you in for a spell.
Eric Frankenberg: Hot off the ubiquity (and combined 12 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100) of The Blueprint 3’s “Empire State of Mind” and Recovery’s “Love the Way You Lie,” Jay-Z and Eminem arguably never had more combined star power than in September 2010, when they co-headlined The Home & Home Tour – two shows at Detroit’s Comerica Park followed by two at New York’s Yankee Stadium. A live double-album from the Sept. 13 performance at Yankee Stadium would serve as a Greatest Hits compilation for both rappers, with setlists spanning from “Hard Knock Life” and “My Name Is” to “On to the Next One” and “Not Afraid.”
But if “99 Problems,” “Lose Yourself,” “Big Pimpin’,” and “Stan” weren’t enough to pack a stadium, both rappers came prepared. Eminem was joined by Dr. Dre for tracks from The Chronic and 2001, opening act B.o.B. for a remix of “Airplanes,” D12 for “Purple Pills” and “My Band” and 50 Cent for three songs including a stadium-rattling rendition of “In da Club.”
A four-song mini-set by Kanye West crowded the early portion of Jay-Z’s set, featuring the live debuts of the “POWER” remix and “Monster” (also accompanied by then-up-and-comer Nicki Minaj). Then, he brought out Chris Martin (“Viva la Vida” remix), Drake (“Miss Me” and “Light Up”), Swizz Beatz (“On to the Next One”) and a 23-time Grammy winner by the name of Beyoncé (“Forever Young”). A once-in-a-lifetime extended Grammy moment curated by two of the most powerful forces in pop and hip-hop, The Home & Home Tour Live would be an essential listen — especially for fans who lived outside of New York and Detroit in 2010.
Bianca Gracie: With eight albums under her designer belt, Rihanna has more than proven that both her creative artistry and vocals have exponentially improved over the years. Her tours have also reflected that, and her most recent trek — 2016’s ANTI World Tour — showed her testing new mash-ups and remixes that would translate perfectly on a live album.
Can you imagine how heartbreakingly beautiful the concert versions of “Stay” and “Love on the Brain” could be? The seductive and slowed-down “Birthday Cake”/”Pour It Up/”Numb” medley? Or the boisterous and sped-up version of “Man Down” she performed during the tour’s Made In America stop blasting through your speakers? Plus, her “We Found Love”/”How Deep Is Your Love” rendition would provide the ultimate dance party moment. She could even throw in that fiery version of “Goodnight Gotham/”Rockstar 101” from Rock in Rio 2015. Now that Rihanna has a new record on the way (which is reportedly filled with dancehall themes), it’s the perfect time for her to show just how much she loves experimenting with different genres on stage.