MORE

How to Headline Coachella the Right Way: Top 5 Coachella Headliners and Acts

Coachella by Night
Coachella by Night

It's getting close to the announcement we're all waiting for: the headliner for Coachella, the festival that kicks off the first of many multi-day music and arts festivals that will take place over the summer, in sweltering heat.

What started as a small music festival eleven years ago has blossomed into an event that can attract tens of thousands of music fans and world-class acts. This year speculation has run rampant from the obvious (Arcade Fire) to the Oh-God-Please-Don't-Let-This-Happen (Coldplay), but all potential healiners could get a few tips from our list of Coachella's best headliners and surprise performances:

5. Jay Z

Jay Z plays Coachella
Jay Z plays Coachella

Jay Z seemed an unlikely choice for headlining 2010's festival, but he brought it, powering through thirty songs in front of a sold-out crowd, remaining unfazed by the blistering heat. His wife, Beyonce, even appeared for an unannounced cameo.

4. The Cure

Robert Smith of the Cure
Robert Smith of the Cure

Robert Smith has spent just about all of his publicly lived adult life sad and in makeup, and he didn't change a thing for his 2009 headlining gig. Pushing 33 minutes past schedule in a marathon set, the band played tunes spanning the length of their decades-long discography for nearly three hours. Not bad for a bunch of middle-aged men in lipstick.

3. Prince

Prince
Prince

Prince informed the audience that they were in the coolest place on Earth and then offered a rambunctious set that included a guest appearance from Sheila E. He wore gold sequins, played "Little Red Corvette", and even covered the Beatles and Radiohead. Prince was an innovator of funk, pop, and rock; his 2008 appearance confirmed that he remains not only relevant, but a world-class performer.

2. Madonna

Madonna, Confessing on the Dance Floor
Madonna, Confessing on the Dance Floor

Madonna downsized a bit for her performance, playing the Sahara dance tent instead of the main stage when she graced the 2006 festival with her presence. When her appearance was announce, some were enthusiastic; others were simply mystified. Paul Tollette, co-founder of Goldenvoice, had said he was still looking for a big name for the popular dance tent and they started considering Madge; a few phone calls later, and she was a go. Coachella was her first festival, and the performance kicked off a tour in support of "Confessions of a Dance Floor", which sold over a million copies in the U.S. alone. So while Madonna might not be the most popular act to grace a stage at Coachella, she certainly has sold more records.

And the bestest Coachella headliner of them all, she (for it's a she) who everyone should be studying closely to see "how it's done" before abasing themselves (you too, Coldplay) before her goddesslike genius is...

 

1. Bjork

Bjork
Bjork

Bjork ruled when she played back in 2007, rocking both the visually and aurally impaired with her techno-punk set, light show, crazy futuristic touch-screen thingies, brass section, and bizarrely creative costumes. If Coachella is a contest, then Bjork is the all-time winner.

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >