Coachella best headliners ranked

From absolute legends to losers, the definitive ranking of Coachella’s biggest headliners

There’s been the best of shows, there’s been the worst of shows

Coachella has become one of the most iconic festivals in the world, let alone America. People come from far and wide to California to check out some of the biggest musical artists from around the globe. Headliners have previously included the likes of Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Oasis, The Killers, Kanye West, Lady Gaga and many, many more. So why not take a trip down memory lane and have a look at the best Coachella headliners ranked from best to worst?

It’s always been a popular event but in the last few years, with influencers growing as popular as they are now, it’s grown into more than a festival. It’s a fashion show, an Instagram opportunity and a networking event, but the main thing people go for is always the music.

But who has been the best headline act in recent years? Here’s every single headliner from the last five Coachella festivals ranked to find out definitely who actually was the best.

15. Lana Del Rey (2024) – 3/10

Exactly 10 years since her first set at Coachella, Lana Del Rey kicked off this year’s weekend headliners as she rode to the stage as part of a motorcade. Unfortunately, the motorbikes were much like her set: Too slow and void of any swagger.

Although Lana seems to capture the essence of a typical Coachella attendee, her lacklustre performance failed to capture the attention of the crowd. Plagued with technical issues her set had very few shining moments from Lana herself, her performance of Summertime Sadness lacking any energy at all and instead Lana’s vocals tragically faltered as the song got underway.

She certainly grew into the set with Bartender and Candy Necklace being notably stronger performances, but it wasn’t until Billie Eilish graced the stage that the show was redeemed. Eilish, already building significant public excitement for her next album HIT ME HARD AND SOFT, performed her hit ocean eyes and Lana’s Video Games. The pair gave an admirable close to the set which peaked the crowd’s excitement for the Friday headline, but it was ultimately too little too late.

14. Frank Ocean (2023) – 4/10

The excitement for a Frank Ocean performance of any kind is usually high, but to be headlining Coachella adds some extra flare. Expectations were high for his first live performance in nearly six years, but they were maybe a little too high.

The biggest issue with the set was the fact that it began almost an hour late, and was subsequently cut short because of Coachella’s curfew.

In true Frank Ocean style, his stage set took a minimalist approach, the giant screen being the only true visual connection for those further back in the crowd. Although the crowd would have been familiar with almost every single one of Frank Ocean’s songs, his decision to play almost exclusively reworked versions alienated the crowd.

Somehow Frank was able to keep the crowd focused with heartfelt speeches in between a few of his songs, including one dedicated to his late brother who he used to attend the festival with. And with a multitude of live debuts for songs like White Ferrari and Godspeed, the crowd were treated to an extremely rare concert. Unfortunately, being mysterious and evasive wasn’t enough to save him from a low ranking.

13. The Weeknd (2018) – 5/10

Even before his biggest album, After Hours, The Weeknd was a superstar, beginning the first weekend of Coachella 2018 with a strong performance. Riding on the popularity of Black Panther and its soundtrack, Abel immediately hyped up the crowd with Pray for Me, swiftly followed by Starboy.

The high energy opening was maintained for 45 minutes with chart-toppers and smash hits such as Can’t Feel My Face, House of Balloons and Might Not. Coming a mere two weeks after the release of his popular EP, My Dear Melancholy, the audience at the first weekend of Coachella were the recipients of a lot of live debuts, including the powerful ballad Call Out My Name where the crowd stood in awe, appreciating the emotionally-charged, raw voice of Abel Tesfaye.

The organised setlist immediately flipped the mood of the crowd, from slightly tearful to slightly bouncing, Abel struggling to get the crowd floating like the way he’s able to now.

A better planned set than his 2022 appearance that got the crowd moving and singing along, but The Weeknd was unable to show his full performative potential at the famous Californian festival.

12. Tame Impala (2019) – 6/10

Kevin Parker of Tame Impala is a bit of an unsung hero in modern pop, being the sole producer of countless albums such as The Weeknd’s After Hours, Rihanna’s ANTI and Travis Scott’s Astroworld. But in 2019 him and his band finally got their time to shine on the big stage.

In a psychedelic, laser-infused show reminiscent of Pink Floyd, the band struggled early on to get the crowd going, with Kevin admitting that they felt a bit underwhelming. This set was the very definition of growing into it though, as the audience were gradually possessed by the energy of their big hits The Less I Know the Better and Borderline.

Those that attended the second weekend in the sun got the chance to see A$AP Rocky join Kevin Parker for Sundress and L$D, a special few tracks for the special weekend.

The penultimate track, Feels Like We Only Go Backwards, had Kevin pacing the stage without a guitar as a true lead singer, before the cinematics were cut back for a raw performance of New Person, Same Old Mistakes. While their shaky start meant they didn’t blow any socks off, Tame Impala’s set was strong and inspired, even if it played it a little safe.

11. The Weeknd (2022) – 6/10

Having to fill in for Kanye West, who pulled out of his slot at the last minute, The Weeknd was tasked with making a stunning set at the eleventh hour. Thankfully, The Weeknd was no stranger to big time gigs and commanding a stage, having performed at half time during Super Bowl LV the year previously and already headlined Coachella three years before that.

With Swedish House Mafia playing just before him, they provided themselves as Abel’s on stage DJs, collaborating on the hits Sacrifice and Moth to a Flame. After they left the stage, The Weeknd reeled through all of his biggest hits, including Can’t Feel My Face, The Hills, Starboy and Blinding Lights.

Fans who had booked tickets to see Kanye still got a taste of that show with The Weeknd performing his song Hurricane early on in the set. Unfortunately, it was clear that this was a last minute show, The Weeknd’s minimalistic stage set meant that he was the primary focus for the whole audience, and it often felt like he was having to struggle against the production in a shortened set.

A worthy last minute replacement for Kanye West, but unable to reach the heights which fans are aware The Weeknd is capable of, and someone saved by his starpower.

10. Doja Cat (2024) – 7/10

Doja Cat has been riddled with controversy in the last few years, but, in her own words, “[she] said what [she] said” and is willingly to leave the old her behind. And that’s exactly what she did, performing a very limited number of her older songs. After a long introduction from The Joy, Doja Cat arrived guns blazing with Shutcho, her long blonde hair waving as the crowd waved with her.

21 Savage, Teezo Touchdown and A$AP Rocky brought the same energy to the stage after multiple Doja Cat costume changes, keeping up with Doja’s feisty and explosive performance, but still leaving her in command.

The lack of familiar and popular songs was to Doja’s detriment, with fans complaining after the show about the absence of songs like Say So and Kiss Me More, but the audience were still treated to hits like Paint The Town Red and Need to Know which got them moving, screaming and singing along. However, there were a few occasions where she offered the microphone to the audience on her lesser known music from her latest album Scarlet that were met with a lacklustre reply.

9. Childish Gambino (2019) – 7/10

This is America was released not long after Coachella 2018, and it soon became the song that everyone was talking about, earning itself four Grammys in the process. And so it seemed only right that Childish Gambino, otherwise known as Donald Glover, kicked off a weekend filled with some great headliners.

Gambino took crowd interaction to a whole new level when he came off stage with a blunt in hand and shared it with an audience member. While they were smoking, Gambino let his jazzy soul take over, speaking from the crowd with his band to have a full five minutes of improvised melodies.

Childish Gambino’s rendition of Crazy by Gnarls Barkley and his performance of This is America cemented him as more than just a great artist and performer, but showed how important he was to pop culture in general as well.

A set littered with some special moments was rounded off in a mellower fashion with the ethereal hit Redbone that left the audience swaying, arms in the air as Gambino serenaded them with his powerful and controlled voice.

8. Bad Bunny (2023) – 7/10

The first Latin-American and Spanish-language artist to headline Coachella, it was bound to be special. As the number one streamed artist in the world for three years in a row leading up to his Coachella set, Bad Bunny was bound to draw a huge crowd and he did exactly that.

Post Malone joined Bad Bunny on stage for acoustic renditions of La Canción and Yonaguni but after facing some serious technical difficulties with the guitar, they performed the latter acapella and thoroughly impressed the crowd.

Even with the technical difficulties, Bad Bunny played, quite literally, every single one of his biggest hits and kept the audience in a vibrant and upbeat mood throughout. His historic performance garnered great respect, even if the technical difficulties let him down slightly.

7. Ariana Grande (2019) – 8/10

How do you make a headline show with the highest grossing female pop artist in the world more exciting? By adding *NSYNC into the mix of course. The ’90s boyband (without Justin Timberlake) helped Ariana Grande put her set into fifth gear with their joint rendition of Tearin’ Up My Heart.

Just four songs later Nicki Minaj helped Grande perform Side to Side and Bang Bang, which boasted expertly crafted choreography and Ariana’s beautiful voice that commanded and stunned the audience.

The setlist certainly pleased those that were a fan of her latest release at the time, her fifth studio album thank u, next, as she sprinkled half of the album throughout the setlist. She showed everyone just how big she was in the world of pop music by flashing a series of tweets and videos on the screens about her final track thank u, next which caused the crowd to go absolutely wild.

6. BLACKPINK (2023) – 8/10

The first ever K-Pop Coachella headliners enjoyed themselves from start to finish, and you could tell by the smiles on their faces. BLACKPINK’s members (Jisoo, Rosé, Lisa and Jennie Kim) always prove how multi-talented they are. They gave their audience a wonderfully choreographed performance alongside the small platoon of back up dancers and they exemplified the quality of performance you’re bound to get from a K-pop band.

Opening with Pink Venom the crowd took over the vocals and were singing along to almost every single song from start to finish, an energy that is still quite hard to replicate. This energy was tireless and BLACKPINK made it seem effortless to command a crowd the way they did, rounding out their show with the passionate and fiery performances of DDU-DU DDU-DU and, after moving to the middle of the crowd, Forever Young.

If BLACKPINK’s set showed Coachella anything, its that K-pop bands should be headlining more often.

5. Billie Eilish (2022) – 8/10

Nearly a year since the release of her second studio album, Happier Than Ever, Billie Eilish took to the Coachella stage under the Californian stars to truly solidify herself as one of pop’s brightest stars at the time, and still now.

The lights flashed around the stage and revealed the shadow of Eilish as snippets from the songs Happier Than Ever and oxytocin got the crowd riled up. Billie Eilish made her presence known immediately, jumping around the catwalk and interacting with the crowd to keep the waves of screams coming.

She played all of the hits from her discography up to that point and kept her energy up throughout, showing appreciation to her brother Finneas as they shared the stage for an acoustic section of the set.

On the second weekend, after delivering a powerful message about protecting young women’s bodies through the song Your Power, Hayley Williams joined Billie on stage, and later played the closing track Happier Than Ever with her. However, on the first weekend Damon Albarn surprised fans with his vocals on Getting Older before helping the crowd feel good with the Gorillaz own Feel Good Inc.

Billie is always one to entertain at festivals, mixing her downbeat ballads with her jumpy pop hits and Coachella showed her ability to keep an audience hooked from the start to finish of her hour and a half set.

4. Tyler, The Creator (2024) – 9/10

One of the most iconic performances of the last few years. Tyler arrived at Coachella with a bang (literally), recreating Metro Boomin’s iconic NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES album cover.

Unlike Lana from the day before, Tyler, The Creator’s entire set was full of high energy and high engagement music, including the phenomenal live debut of BEST INTEREST. The crowd were jumping from minute one and you could tell Tyler was enjoying himself, sweat dripping down his brow and struggling to catch his breath but still smiling at the crowd in front of him.

As if Tyler alone wasn’t enough, he brought out Childish Gambino to remind everyone he’s still on the scene and ready to drop new music, his best buddy A$AP Rocky for some electric performances, and even 71-year-old Charlie Wilson to provide his gorgeous vocals on the hit EARFQUAKE. All of this would’ve been more than enough to satiate the crowd, but Tyler always has to go one step further and introduce Kali Uchis for his penultimate song See You Again. An iconic finish to round out an instant classic of a Coachella set.

3. Eminem (2018) – 9/10

As one of the most successful names in rap history, Eminem was bound to give an unforgettable show. He had a tough task ahead of him by following up Beyoncé from the night before, but Eminem was up for the challenge.

In a much more stripped back set than Beyoncé’s, the Detroit rapper flaunted his extensive back catalogue full of timeless classics that never fail to disappoint. His fans were in full procession when he played tracks like Till I Collapse, Kill You and Rap God, applauding every time he displayed his rapid flow and instrumental voice.

One of the highlights of Eminem’s Coachella set was the recruitment of Skylar Grey for Walk on Water, Stan and Love the Way You Lie. Soon after Skylar had left the stage there was the surprise appearance of 50 Cent who performed three of his own songs, including In Da Club,  before giving the fans the first live performance of Crack a Bottle in four years.

After another run of Eminem hits, he delved back into the history of rap as he brought out Dr. Dre for four more covers of classic rap songs, including California Love by 2Pac. The crowd weren’t allowed a break from hit after hit as Eminem’s Coachella set paid homage to some of the greatest rappers before him, as well as proving why his name is set alongside some of the greats.

Finishing his set with Lose Yourself the audience were left ecstatic and stunned at the quality of performance that a 45-year-old rapper could still put on, completely disproving the allegations of being “washed”.

2. Harry Styles (2022) – 9/10

As the last Brit to perform at Coachella, Harry Styles does the nation proud, arriving on stage in a massive black fur coat and a shiny jumpsuit, met with the eruption of excited screams and eager fans. The tension building up to the first Coachella headliner for three years had finally snapped.

Performing just before the release of his now award-winning album Harry’s House, Styles was able to grant As It Was its live debut in front of the Coachella crowd. With a minimal stage set the focus was entirely on Harry himself, his good looks, his fashion, and his music. The band behind him brought an excellent rock energy to his set, reverberating the electric guitar across the whole audience.

Styles infectious dancing and exuberant energy enchanted the crowd as he paraded down the front length of the stage with a pride flag over his shoulder, before surprising the lucky fans with a performance of the One Direction global hit, What Makes You Beautiful. If there was a roof at Coachella, it would most certainly have been blown off.

A further surprise was the guest appearance of Shania Twain who rose up from the stage as the opening to Man! I Feel Like a Woman! played. The sassy duo played off of one another expertly and gave a unique performance that the crowd are sure to never forget.

The only trouble Harry Styles faced was how excited the crowd were, there were often times when he couldn’t quite get his words because of the cacophony of screams that drowned them out. There’s certainly worse problems to have.

1. Beyoncé (2018) – 10/10

Queen Bey has earned that name for a reason. As the first black woman to headline Coachella, she began strutting across the catwalk in regal Egyptian attire, proceeded by a marching band, Beyoncé immediately crowns herself as the Queen of Coachella. The crowd goes wild before she’s even begun singing.

Returning to the stage at the top of some bleachers in a satin yellow hoodie, shiny fur boots and denim shorts, Beyoncé proves that she is ageless and so is her music. The Crazy in Love intro sounds and the audience knows this is going to be one of the greatest shows they’ve ever seen.

Beyoncé outshines her whole entourage of dancers as she powers her way through the entire first half of her set without breaking a sweat, showing how flexible she is, physically, linguistically and musically, covering Mi Gente and bringing her hip-hop husband, Jay-Z, on stage to perform Déjà vu with her.

Queen Bey began her final act with the sensational hit Run The World (Girls) and proved herself right by bringing out the other members of the Destiny’s Child trio, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, for a medley of Lose My Breath, Say My Name and Soldier.

Beyoncé rounded of the night with one of the most popular songs of all time Single Ladies (Put A Ring on It) and the feel good brass-infused Love On Top.

Not only was it a performance that cemented Beyoncé amongst some of the greatest and most powerful female artists in history like Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, and even exceeded them, but it was a performance that changed Coachella entirely, pushing diversity even further to allow artists like Bad Bunny and BLACKPINK to headline and making the festival the best it possibly can be. A worthy winner.

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Featured images via Frank Micelotta/Shutterstock, Ben Houdjik on Shutterstock and Lev Radin/Pacific Press/Shutterstock.