Coachella has had a rough couple of years, for obvious reasons. One of the planet’s biggest musical festivals was never going to do especially well in an era of one of the planet’s biggest medical emergencies. But even by those standards, the Goldenvoice-produced fest has been hit hard by scheduling woes and headliner mishaps since it first began shifting dates around in early 2020. Now, apparently, it faces one of its darkest moments yet: Entering negotiations to have Kanye West serve as one of its replacement headliners for its 2022 installment.
This is per THR, which reports that the artist currently known as Ye is apparently deep into talks to headline the Sunday night slot for the festival, which has been scrambling to fill out its line-up ever since original headliner Travis Scott was removed from consideration after the deaths at his Astroworld festival late last year. Scott was part of a bill that’s been getting shuffled around since 2020, when the festival was first delayed, and then outright canceled, due to COVID concerns. Fellow bill-mate Frank Ocean has been shunted to the hopeful safety of a 2023 headlining slot, while Rage Against The Machine, the third member of that doomed assembly of big-name artists, has now dropped out entirely.
Ye, meanwhile, has continued to truck along, having a 2021 that could best be described as “characteristically chaotic and disappointing.” In addition to the dissolution of his marriage to Kim Kardashian, the year also saw him release a new album, Donda, to decidedly lackluster reviews. He also scored some of that precious attention that keeps his body properly functioning, via the tried-and-true method of making one of the worst swings against “cancel culture” imaginable, throwing his vocal support behind homophobic remarks vendor DaBaby and accused rapist Brian “Marilyn Manson” Warner.
None of which appears to have stopped Goldenvoice from saying “Fuck it, we gotta get somebody, right?” April 15, the kick-off date for the festival’s first weekend this year, is approaching more rapidly than you can say “Google ‘COVID test near me,’” and the festival is clearly desperate to bring in some names big enough to get people to come out despite whichever variant is kicking around come spring. To wit: Billie Eilish is also apparently in talks to headline the festival, probably on Friday night; she last headlined the festival in 2019, i.e., the last time anybody headlined a Coachella.
There are also apparent murmurings that Swedish House Mafia might be getting moved out of its own headliner slot, presumably so Goldenvoice can slot someone with more major name recognition into the spot. But, seriously: Given today’s cancellation of the in-person portions of the Sundance Film Festival, and the postponement of the Grammys, it’s unclear whether any of this is anything more than rearranging the deck chairs on an already sunken ship at this point.