Metro Weekly

4 Queer Musicians Who Could Headline Coachella

Miley Cyrus, Lil Nas X, Sam Smith and Elton John all would be welcome LGBTQ headliners at Coachella.

Lil Nasx X -- Photo via
Lil Nasx X — Photo via

The year 2023 is a significant one for Coachella, as it marked just the second time in the festival’s history that an artist headlining the festival identified as part of the LGBTQ community.

Unfortunately, this momentous occasion did not go as planned. Originally scheduled to perform in 2020, Frank Ocean was forced to cancel due to the Covid-19 pandemic. When he returned in 2023, he was joined in the headlining slots by Blackpink and Bad Bunny, but his performance received negative reviews.

After a lackluster showing, Ocean dropped out of his headlining slot for the second weekend.

Blink-182 stepped in to fill his shoes, leaving many fans disappointed. The R&B star claimed that an injury affected his performance, but insiders suggest that the issues were more psychological in nature. He even canceled an elaborate ice skating segment shortly before his set.

While it’s unfortunate that Ocean’s headlining performance didn’t meet expectations, it’s important to recognize that he’s not the only LGBTQ artist who could front Coachella.

The festival has received criticism for its lack of representation, particularly given the founder’s controversial stance on the community, so organizers may be looking to bring more queer artists to the forefront.

Here are four LGBTQ artists that Coachella should consider booking in the future for headlining slots.

Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X has made himself into a force to be reckoned with in the music industry, despite only being around for a few short years. As an 11-time Grammy nominee and two-time winner, his talent and popularity are undeniable.

With chart-topping hits like “Old Town Road,” “Industry Baby,” and “Montero (Call Me by Your Name),” Lil Nas X has proven that he has what it takes to make it to the top.

In addition to his musical abilities, Nas X is also known for being an especially visual artist, which only adds to his appeal as a performer.

A concert from the multi-genre star would almost certainly be a show-stopper, with his incredible dance moves, infectious beats, and surely something that will get conservatives riled up all coming together to create an unforgettable experience.

Miley Cyrus

Openly queer superstar Miley Cyrus has had a career with its ups and downs. After a recent lull, she has come back stronger than ever with her single “Flowers.”

The song quickly shot to the top of the charts and has become the biggest hit of her time in the spotlight. Unfortunately, this success materialized too late for her to headline the 2023 Coachella festival.

However, it is entirely possible that she could headline the festival next year. In fact, it’s entirely possible that this discussion is already taking place.

Sam Smith

Sam Smith, like Miley Cyrus, also experienced a bit of a career slump, but that all changed when they teamed up with trans pop singer Kim Petras.

Together, they released “Unholy,” which quickly took the world by storm in 2022. This song made history by hitting No. 1 on charts worldwide and even earned the two a Grammy.

Currently, Smith is touring and living their life unapologetically. If they were to headline Coachella, fans could expect to see Smith showcase body positivity, self-love, and blend dance-pop with more adult-leaning contemporary tunes.

As an Oscar winner and incredibly talented musician, Smith would undoubtedly bring their A-game to the festival stage, delivering an unforgettable performance that fans would be talking about for years to come — and which would, just like with Nas X, piss off all the right people.

Elton John

Legendary piano player Elton John is currently on what he has declared to be his last world tour.

This trek has now been going on for years and is set to end this summer. Although the near-EGOT winner claims that he will never tour again, many stars have made similar statements in the past, only to later return to the stage.

Also, John could keep his word about not touring, but still play one-off shows, such as Coachella.

Despite not being as young as some of the other musicians mentioned in this article, John still has many more hits than they do, as well as widespread appeal.

And, even after all these years, he remains incredibly relevant in today’s music industry. In fact, he has charted several global smashes in recent years with the likes of Dua Lipa and Britney Spears, and continues to release new music regularly.

Given his enduring popularity and musical prowess, the idea of John headlining a major music festival such as Coachella must be appealing, and it’s a wonder he hasn’t yet.

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