Coachella is the DJ Khaled of festivals: garish, oversized, powered by social media and fueled by special guests. There are times it has been the best and times it has suffered from success; unquestionably, it has changed a lot.
The once-idyllic two-day festival featuring obscure underground stars became a two-week mainstream behemoth with an H&M line and unofficial weekend parties where brands lamely try to siphon off residual cool. Somewhere along the way, the festival realized that its major key was the surprise guest appearance.
Due to its iconic stature and proximity to L.A., Coachella consistently manages to get the most impressive cameos outside of, well, a DJ Khaled album (this year, Goldenvoice recognized a kindred spirit and finally booked him for the fest).
In 2014, Pharrell brought out Gwen Stefani, Snoop Dogg, Nelly and Busta Rhymes. On two occasions, Calvin Harris recruited Rihanna. Jay Z trotted out Nas and Beyoncé. There was the year that Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg enlisted 50 Cent, Warren G, Wiz Khalifa, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem and that ghoulish 2Pac-o-gram.
The list extends infinitely: Phoenix and R. Kelly, Arcade Fire and Deborah Harry, A$AP Rocky and Kanye, Major Lazer and Usher, Chance the Rapper and Justin Bieber, G-Eazy and Lil Wayne. You get the idea.
With this year’s edition looming over the next two weekends, I’ve compiled a guide to handicapping this year’s Coachella special guests. Bets accepted in cash, credit or the scalps of frat bros wearing Native American headdresses.
Dr. Dre — Odds: 2:1
Why: It’s a headlining, homecoming performance from the biggest artist on Dre’s label since Eminem. There’s no place old, semi-retired doctors would rather be than the Greater Palm Springs area.
Why not: Exhausted from golfing.
TDE — Odds: 3:4
Why: Because TDE brands itself far too well for this not to bring out Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, et al.
Why not: With his new album dropping, Kendrick may opt to keep the focus on himself.
Migos — Odds: 2:1
Why: Migos are playing the Friday night of weekend one in Santa Barbara and have multiple songs with the Houston rapper.
Why not: Quavo listened closely to his own lyrics on “Portland” and opted to cut off people riding their wave.
Tony Bennett — Odds: 5:1
Why: At this point in her career, it’s the only possible way left to shock people. He must have a lavish house in Rancho Mirage.
Why not: She’s unable to explain to Bennett what Coachella is.
Nicki Minaj — Odds: 4:1
Why: They have a new single out, Nicki lives most of the year in L.A., and Gucci was among the first to co-sign her.
Why not: She’s still mentally scarred from Drake’s 2015 disaster set.
Drake — Odds: 2:1
Why: He just dropped an album with Sampha on it and can’t go 10 minutes without trying to show how relevant he is.
Why not: Long weekend of “How to perfect the grime patois” vocal classes that he can’t get out of.
Kanye — Odds: 8:1
Why: He’s been at Bon Iver’s winter cabin for the last two months and is super bored.
Why not: Might have to investigate Susan Rice for Trump.
Every performer at Coachella + Drake — Odds: 11:10
Why: For the Snapchat and the ’Gram.
Why not: There is no why not. Dude doesn’t rap, sing or really even DJ.
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Father John Misty
A drug dealer he met the night before at Tenants of the Trees — Odds: 3:2
Why: He seemed like a chill bro.
Why not: Couldn’t get him an artist wristband.