In October, rumors began that claimed to identify the three headliners of Coachella. The source of the speculation came from HITS Daily Double, but anyone close to the music industry heard similar rumblings. They stated that Childish Gambino, Kanye West, and Justin Timberlake would close out respective nights at the Indio, California event, and fans quickly voiced concern about 2/3rds of the reported headliners.
While Donald Glover is following a remarkable year that included dominance in music, film, and television, the others weren’t so lucky. Timberlake is coming off a year that largely felt like a flop, with his 2018 album Man Of The Woods quickly forgotten and failing to notch a hit despite his Super Bowl appearance.
West, for his part, also had a down year musically, with his newest album Ye album also becoming the worst reviewed of his career. Plus he also made a name for himself with his support of President Trump and unhinged tweet storms, finding even many longtime and loyal supporters wanting to distance themselves from the music icon. For a festival that has its own precarious relationship with the right wing, giving West a stage to say whatever he wanted on a national YouTube stream and booking Timberlake despite his tenuous relationship with and recent criticism from the Black community felt like the opening of floodgates for unnecessary controversy. It certainly would have sparked headlines, but at what cost?