Here Are 6 Possible Replacements for Beyoncé at Coachella

Could Coachella book Rihanna as a last-minute Beyoncé replacement?
Could Coachella book Rihanna as a last-minute Beyoncé replacement?
Photo by Mathew Tucciarone

Although yesterday's announcement that, due to her pregnancy, Beyoncé will not be headlining Coachella, was a pretty huge letdown, it does open up all sorts of fun possibilities as to who the festival might book to replace her. Coachella organizers Goldenvoice have deep enough pockets to line up a major substitute. (And no, that $1 million payout Bey could reportedly still collect shouldn't hurt them — it's paid out of an insurance policy.)

But who could possibly replace Queen Bey? Let's review some of the likeliest candidates.

Lady Gaga
Pros: Great live performer known for putting on flashy shows, deep catalog of hits
Cons: Already playing the Forum in August; latest album was kind of a dud

If Goldenvoice wants to replace the biggest female headliner they've ever booked with another big female headliner, Gaga might be the strongest choice. Even though Joanne underwhelmed, she's a powerhouse entertainer who would certainly rise to the occasion and play a dazzling Coachella gig. Unfortunately, since she's already booked a 2017 tour through Goldenvoice's main competitor, Live Nation, including two shows at the Forum in August, it's unlikely she'll be able to play Coachella, too.

Rihanna
Pros: Hits for days, edgy enough to appeal to Coachella hipsters
Cons: Hasn't done a show since November

Unlike Gaga, Rihanna has no tour dates scheduled for 2017, so there's no potential scheduling or contractual conflicts. But the lack of upcoming dates might actually make this one a non-starter. It takes a small army to put together the kind of large-scale shows RiRi is used to delivering, and all that personnel and infrastructure is currently on ice. Rallying them on less than two months' notice may not be possible.

The Chainsmokers
Pros: In keeping with this year's more EDM-heavy lineup
Cons: Touring conflicts and, well, they kinda suck

Booking the "Nickelback of EDM" to replace the reigning queen of pop music might sound crazy, especially since the "Closer" duo have tour dates booked throughout the month of April. But Coachella booked Calvin Harris as a headliner last year and have been embracing EDM since at least 2012, when Swedish House Mafia closed out the main stage (even though they weren't officially listed as a headliner). And as for those touring conflicts: If Goldenvoice just moves Kendrick Lamar to Saturday night's headlining slot, they can have the 'Smokers headline Sunday, when they have no shows booked.

If she brings Left Shark, we're totally on board.
If she brings Left Shark, we're totally on board.
Timothy Norris

Katy Perry
Pros: Just released a new single; might bring along Left Shark
Cons: Does anyone still care about Katy Perry?

"Chained to the Rhythm" is catchy and danceable, and she gets points for trying to inject some political messaging into her lyrics and recent award-show performances, however awkwardly she's been going about it. But it kinda feels like we achieved Peak Perry with her Super Bowl halftime show in 2015, and her brand of pop, even with its new level of "woke"-ness, might be too frothy for Coachella's core audience.

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Depeche Mode
Pros: Legends who have managed to stay relevant
Cons: Might not fit Coachella's new mission of chasing a younger demographic

Five years ago, Depeche would've been a no-brainer as a last-minute Coachella headliner. But this year, when it's clear that, aside from a few veteran acts like Radiohead and New Order, the festival is doubling down on its efforts to lure millennials, the synth-pop legends might not be a good fit. (They might also, after this week's dustup when white nationalist Richard Spencer jokingly called them "the official band of the Alt-Right," not be eager to hitch their wagon to the conservative politics of Philip Anschutz, owner of Goldenvoice's parent company, AEG Live.)

The Weeknd (+ Daft Punk?)
Pros: Conveniently has a mid-April gap in his touring schedule; might repeat that Daft Punk collab from the Grammys
Cons: Not as big a draw as Beyoncé; just played Coachella two years ago

On paper, this one might make the most sense of all. The Toronto R&B star has already "headlined" Coachella once before; even though he was billed under Jack White in 2015, he actually closed out the main stage on Saturday night after White's performance, and did an amazing job. Plus, there's a strong possibility he could bring out Daft Punk to perform "Starboy" and "I Feel It Coming," the two songs the French duo did with him on his most recent album, also called Starboy. Even though he still has nowhere near the star power of a Beyoncé, that combination could be enough to assuage disappointed 'Chella-goers.


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