It’s official; Kanye West is no longer headlining Coachella in two weeks. We don’t know why he pulled out so suddenly. It could be that he really is fulfilling his vow to cancel unless Billie Eilish apologized to Travis Scott for apparently shading him while helping a distressed fan at her show. Or, maybe he’s really going to get help after spending much of the first quarter berating his ex-wife, her new beau, and Trevor Noah. While he’s pulled out of headlining before, the last time was months in advance, leaving the festival organizers plenty of time to organize a replacement. This time, with just two weeks until the big event, bookers might have to scramble to fill in the empty slot.
Fortunately, there are a few candidates more than capable of filling in for Kanye, with some sources suggesting Swedish House Mafia, The Weeknd, and Justin Bieber. As luck would have it, many of them are either just coming off headlining tours or festivals of their own, which could help alleviate some of the potential logistical struggles of putting together a 90-minute set at the last moment. While this doesn’t mean they would have the interest or availability to head to the California desert, the five artists below would all make great headliners.
Doja Cat, who is already booked to perform just below the headliners, has risen in prominence quickly over the past two years. After her TikTok-favorite hit “Say So” reached No. 1 on the Hot 100, her third studio album Planet Her launched four songs in the top 15, including “Kiss Me More” featuring SZA. “Kiss Me More” just won Doja Cat her first Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, putting Doja in rare air as exactly the sort of artist that belongs in the top line of any festival lineup. She says she wants to quit, so she could at least go out with a bang.
Since she’ll already be at Coachella, it’d be a relatively simple matter to bump her up and give her more time. Two weeks may not be enough time to add a full thirty extra minutes to her hour-long set, but considering how adaptable Doja has proven to be in the past, if anyone is up to the task, it’s her. Having Megan Thee Stallion’s set lead directly into Doja’s would also offer a boost to the movement to highlight more women at major festivals.
Megan Thee Stallion
Alternatively, that dynamic could be flipped to offer Megan — undoubtedly one of the biggest stars of the past three years — the headlining slot. Megan, who dominated 2020 alongside Cardi B with “WAP,” is also booked to perform at Coachella. Speaking of Grammy Awards, at last year’s ceremony, she became just the second female rapper (after Lauryn Hill) to win the Best New Artist award. At the 2021 AMAs, she tied with Doja Cat (and BTS) for most awards with three wins. And she’s just coming off of a performance at the Oscars, perhaps signaling her readiness to return to the spotlight after taking a bit of a break last year. What better way to kick off a new era than with a headlining set at Coachella?
Of course, she’ll face the same logistical issues as Doja. As has been pointed out repeatedly in the past, female rappers’ shows require a lot more planning and preparation than men’s shows — especially regarding choreography. However, Meg’s also flying high in the wake of her new collaboration with Dua Lipa, “Sweetest Pie,” so if ever there was a time to bump her up to the top spot, it’s now.
J. Cole has never headlined Coachella. In fact, he’s never even been on the poster. Considering he’s often been called one of hip-hop’s Big Three alongside Drake, who headlined in 2015, and Kendrick Lamar, who did so in 2017, that’s a glaring hole in his resume. 2022 would be a great time to resolve that discrepancy. The North Carolina MC just headlined his own Dreamville Festival, which means he’s got the set, the chops, and the experience to fill in for Kanye West. He’s had a year of practice too, thanks to his Off-Season arena tour in 2021. There’s a lot of overlap in his and West’s target audiences as well; Cole is as much a student of Kanye as Drake or Kendrick, and an audience already attuned to Kanye’s glitzy backpacker approach would likely take to Cole just as readily.
The only potential drawback would be that Cole’s already been performing this set all over the country. Sure, he could vary things up, but there’d be few surprises after he headlined Rolling Loud only a few months ago. That said, his last run finally laid those “J. Cole is boring” jokes to rest. He’s a thrilling live performer with the commercial accolades to support putting him in as a pinch hitter guaranteed to hit a home run.
Tyler The Creator
Tyler The Creator is another performer just coming off a headlining arena tour, which concludes this week in Seattle. If anything, he’d probably have the easiest time bringing his elaborate staging to Indio. Just route the touring to the desert when the tour wraps up and reproduce the outrageously stellar work he’s been doing on the road at Coachella. And just in case you absolutely need his bona fides… He’s a two-time Best Rap Album Grammy winner, both of those albums went No. 1 back-to-back, and the man puts on one hell of a show.
Yes, he did already perform at Coachella very recently. In fact, he was the sub-headliner of the second-to-last Coachella festival that didn’t get canceled due to COVID. But the people truly do deserve to see this show, especially if he can still manage to cram in the boat, the Rolls-Royce, the grass field, and all the other incredible elements that made his latest tour a must-see event.
After sweeping the Grammys this past weekend, it’s safe to say that Silk Sonic is basically a bulletproof pick sure to please even the pickiest hipster (who probably wouldn’t be at Coachella anyway, let’s face it). Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars are a dazzling duo who bring a sense of old-school showmanship to their live productions while still maintaining an aura of freshness and relatability for the kids — just check out the popularity of their song “Smokin’ Out The Window” on TikTok.
Meanwhile, they’ve been enjoying a Las Vegas residency, meaning they’ve already got a massive set that could work for the Coachella stage, especially if their respective solo material is added in as well. Heck, Bruno’s done the Super Bowl, he could probably handle Coachella by himself. Fortunately, the two artists are currently clicking as a slick tandem. Coachella would be smart to at least reach out.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists.