Twenty-seven reasons to get psyched for the season — from the best tours and festivals to the hottest new music, the biggest movies, the juiciest beach reads, and much more.
Just a year into her solo career following Fifth Harmony’s hiatus, 23-year-old Normani has two Top 10 hits — “Love Lies” with Khalid and “Dancing With a -Stranger” with Sam Smith — and a spot opening for Ariana Grande on the pop star’s Sweetener tour through July 13th. Next, the Atlanta native and Dancing With the Stars finalist is aiming for category-defying domination on the charts, with “a few records” to be released in the coming months. “I don’t want to be labeled as pop. I don’t want to be labeled as R&B,” she says. “Before I’m labeled as any of those things, I want to make sure that my genre is Normani.”
For years, some of America’s best festivals have made their names passing over superstars in favor of adventurous programming in cool settings. Solid Sound Festival (June 28th-30th), on the sprawling grounds of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, boasts organizers Wilco at the top of the bill, musicians like Courtney Barnett and Cate Le Bon, comedians and authors (John Hodgman, Nate Chinen). Pickathon (August 1st-4th), in Happy Valley, Oregon, puts a hippie spin on avant-gardism: Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band will tend to the Grateful Dead flame alongside cosmic jazz (Makaya McCraven), Thai-inspired trance-funk (Khruangbin) and rootsier acts like Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. Basilica Soundscape (September 13th-15th) pushes a more challenging vibe on an abandoned factory site in Hudson, New York, which ex-Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur and filmmaker Tony Stone have turned into a vital arts center. This year, see Waxahatchee, Low, Toronto punks Bad Waitress and other acts you probably don’t know but should. -Will Hermes
Who needs superheroes when you can see Quentin Tarantino’s acidic take on 1960s Tinseltown as things curdle from groovy to grotesque? Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (in theaters July 27th), the filmmaker’s look back at the end of the Dream Factory era, promises his usual rat-a-tat dialogue and A-list star power — Brad! Leo! Margot Robbie! — along with go-go dancing, glaring hippies, a recreation of the old Sunset Strip, Charles Manson, and stuntmen getting into shenanigans. It’s the magic of the movies from a master. -David Fear
Billie Eilish: Touring in the U.S. Through July 21st
The March release of her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, catapulted Eilish into pop’s upper echelon. Now she’s taking her bubblegum-goth vision of a teenage wasteland on the road. If her Coachella performance was any indication, the 17-year-old will handle the next level just fine.
Vampire Weekend: Touring in the U.S. Through the Fall
The band will follow the stylistic excursions of Father of the Bride with an equally adventurous summer tour, including stops at Red Rocks and Madison Square Garden. “I’m into long live versions and very short album versions,” says singer Ezra Koenig. “I like those two extremes.”
Bob Dylan and Neil Young: July 12th in London, July 14th in Kilkenny, Ireland
Book a flight to the U.K. The longtime friends, who’ve shared the stage only eight times since 1975, are co-headlining two shows there this summer.
Jason Isbell and Father John Misty, Through June 29th
Two of American music’s top sensitive white guys — country-rock truth-teller Isbell and Cali pop poet Misty — are hitting the road. The 18-date tour will be a feast of introspection and classic songcraft, with both artists coming off great LPs.
Death Cab for Cutie and Jenny Lewis, June 21st
Both of these indie-rock-era survivors have experienced creative renaissances lately, so this tour will find them at the peak of their powers. And maybe getting Ben Gibbard on the same stage as Lewis will lead to new music from their indie-pop-defining side project, the Postal Service.
In June, the U.S. national soccer team travels to France for the FIFA Women’s World Cup as defending champs and favorites to take home the prize for the fourth time. It won’t be a cakewalk: They’ll have to beat Chile and Sweden — who ousted the U.S. from the 2016 Olympics — to advance to the knockout stages. But veteran forward and captain Megan Rapinoe, who’ll be playing in her third Cup, says the squad of returning all-stars (Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Becky Sauerbrunn) and dynamic newcomers (keep an eye out for Crystal Dunn bombing up and down the left wing and Lindsey Horan anchoring the midfield) is ready for the challenge. “This team is so good and so much fun to work with,” Rapinoe says. “I have a big-sister mentality, but when we get on the field it’s like, ‘Let’s do this job and win this thing together.’ ”
They’re taking the same tack off the pitch, too. In March, after enduring years of wage inequality versus their male counterparts (who failed to even qualify for last year’s World Cup), the women’s national team sued U.S. Soccer over widespread gender discrimination in the sport. While pay is at the heart of the suit — it alleges male players earn more than double what women do over the same number of games — Rapinoe says the plaintiffs are pushing for change throughout the women’s game, including greater investment in youth programs and staff, promotion, branding and sponsorships. Teamwork and timing, she says, are essential to the fight. “We’re in this bigger movement,” says Rapinoe. “We just had a game in L.A. and there were actresses involved in Time’s Up who came in support. It’s all the same thing — maybe the jersey’s different, but we’re all actors on the same stage.” -Jon Blistein
If you’re lucky enough to catch J Balvin at a festival this summer, buckle up. In June, the reggae-ton star will play Primavera Sound in Barcelona and Porto, Portugal; he’ll storm the Belgian fest Tomorrowland in July, then Chicago’s Lollapalooza in August. He first teased his summertime set at Coachella’s main stage in April and reached the apex of the crusade he started so many years ago as a shy singer-songwriter in his hometown of Medellín, Colombia: turning American pop fans on to his arty, Spanish-language take on urban music. Balvin came stocked with an arsenal of original hits — including his first Number One single, “I Like It” — and performed alongside two cartoonishly huge Cardi B and Bad Bunny bobbleheads. Populated by plushies and a gigantic doll, Balvin’s stage took the form of a demented, psychedelic toy box. The splashy set will follow him on the road, and new music isn’t far behind: The reggaetonero has been in the studio with Diplo and DJ Michael Brun, and he hopes to drop two records this year alone, including a joint venture with Bad Bunny this summer. If his recent singles are any indication, expect a more -deconstructed sound that leans on vintage reggaeton rhythms. “I want to be a living legend,” Balvin says. “I’m not waiting to be dead for people to say, ‘Oh, he’s cool.’ I want to be alive to see my hard work and how it inspires other people.” -Suzy Exposito
For more than three decades, he’s been the go-to guy for deadpan indie flicks. Now director Jim Jarmusch has made his Great American Undeadpan Film. The Dead Don’t Die (out now) drops an eclectic all-star cast — including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tom Waits, RZA and Selena Gomez — into a story of small-town citizens caught in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Straight-faced shenanigans, lots of head shots and Tilda Swinton killing -corpses with a samurai sword ensue. “The ironic thing is, other than George Romero’s movies, I’m not really a zombie fan,” Jarmusch says. “I like vampires.” But he wanted to “get actors I love, isolate them in groups and have all this space for stupid conversations between attacks.” Not to mention it’s an excellent excuse to cast Iggy Pop as a shambling cadaver obsessed with coffee. “Iggy’s a great zombie,” Jarmusch says. “The only -problem was that he almost got ill eating the prosthetic guts. After a while, it was, ‘Man, I’m getting grossed out here. I don’t wanna vomit, Jim!’ ‘OK, one more shot of you holding that -intestine and then we got it, Iggy.’ ” –David Fear
Theme-park nerds rejoice! At Galaxy’s Edge, the new Star Wars areas of Disneyland and Disney World (opening May 31st and August 29th, respectively; tickets from $109), you can command the Millennium Falcon in an interactive experience, or, for the less adventurous, sip blue milk while wandering in a Baatu village. Expect long line. -E.J. Dickson
Need uplifting? Look to Kanye West. Each week at a new venue, the rapper gathers droves of people in monochrome outfits for his “Sunday Service,” a quasi-religious event where he performs gospel hymnals and reimagined versions of his most spiritual hits, with dozens of singers and musicians backing him up. While the service is invite-only, West’s wife, Kim Kardashian, and attendees such as Courtney Love broadcast clips via social media. Uncharacteristically, Ye lets the music do the talking — and he’s stayed mum on his ultimate goal. Whether it’s a sort of atonement for his years of MAGA-spouting Trump support, the seeds of the Kardashian-Wests’ own megachurch or just a bout of self-promotion, let’s hope it helps Kanye make his music great again. -Brittany Spanos
For those who find smoking gross and edibles too strong, new easy-drinking weed beverages — from beer to soda, liquor and mocktails — are here. With most, the high hits in as little as 10 minutes and fades after just a couple of hours. “No one wants to be high for two full days,” notes Erik Knutson, CEO of Colorado-based Keef, which teamed with Blue Moon founder Keith Villa to launch nonalcoholic THC beer Ceria. “People have to work sometimes — unfortunately.” –Elisabeth Garber-Paul
Twenty-eight years since its inception, Lollapalooza remains the mother of modern festivals, and its latest edition remains as true as ever to its original genre-melting vision. From August 1st to 4th in Chicago, superstars like Ariana Grande, Meek Mill, Janelle Monae and Childish Gambino will rub shoulders with indie-rock heroes (the Strokes, Mitski), rising rap titans (Lil Baby and Gunna), Latin pop royals (J Balvin, Rosalia) and much more. Who needs Woodstock? -Jon Dolan
For all your windows-down joyriding needs, turn to Young Enough, the sparking new album from Brooklyn indie rockers Charly Bliss. The foursome’s anthemic second effort bridges the bubblegum grunge of their debut with LCD Soundsystem-inspired pop grandeur. “What’s central to our music,” says singer Eva Hendricks, “is this massive feeling of fun.” -Jonathan Bernstein
Do we need a photorealistic version of The Lion King? No. But we do need Beyoncé singing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” Thankfully, that cover comes with director Jon Favreau’s highly-anticipated CGI remake of the 1994 animated classic, due out July 19th. Bey voices future lion queen Nala in the star-studded reboot, joining Donald Glover as Simba, Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as comic meerkat-warthog duo Timon and Pumba, and James Earl Jones, who reprises his role as Simba’s father Mufasa. Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Oliver and Amy Sedaris round out the cast. Even better: Beyoncé reportedly pitched in to help Elton John with the entire soundtrack. -Brittany Spanos
“I think of it as healing-energy work,” says Maggie Rogers. The singer is talking about her new role as a spreader of good vibes at festivals like Coachella and Life Is Beautiful, where she’s been drawing huge crowds, bringing her mix of Seventies singer-songwriter piano balladry, synthy electro-pop and witchy shawl-dancing that’s drawn comparisons to her hero Stevie Nicks.
While Rogers broke through as a viral internet sensation in 2016, playing one of her tracks for Pharrell during an NYU class, she proved she was a force on Saturday Night Live last year. Rogers showed off intensely powerful vocals and an easy command of the stage. “Can you die from getting goosebumps?” John Mayer asked on Instagram afterward, singling out “Fallingwater,” a soulful song that lately has become the centerpiece of Rogers’ live show. “I usually close the set with it,” she says. ”Looking into these seas of people all clapping together — it’s a superslow, epic moment that’s just…perfect.”
Rogers assembled her band only three years ago, and admits that graduating from clubs to huge stages has been an adjustment. “I find the road to be really overstimulating,” she says. “It’s hard to write a supervulnerable song and then get onstage in front of 4,000 people. I try to protect myself from emotional whiplash.” She gets comfortable by playing covers — lately, she’s been working Taylor Swift’s “Tim McGraw” (a song Rogers has known since sixth grade) and Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” into her act. “It’s a way to stay creative and engaged,” she says. “It allows myself and the band a personal release, a space to feel things.”
Over the next few months, Rogers’ schedule will take her to storied spots like the Newport Folk Festival and the Santa Barbara Bowl, but there’s one place she can’t stop thinking about: New York in October, where she’s sold out two nights at Radio City Music Hall. “It’s this very special full-circle moment, because my college graduation was there,” she says. The ceremony marked her first performance of “Alaska,” the song that delivered her big break. “To be able to return there is beyond my wildest dreams.” -Angie Martoccio
It’s all coming back to her now. Céline Dion is riding high these days in a full-fledged Dionaissance. Three years after tragically losing her husband and manager, Réné Angélil, she’s working on a new album, Courage (due in November), and hitting the road for her first tour in more than a decade. She’s also prepping her very own Bohemian Rhapsody-style biopic, The Power of Love. Dion is more relatable than ever now, a single mom to three sons, moving on with a little help from her new BFF, dancer Pepe Muñoz, the gay sidekick she’s always deserved. “He’s my best friend, and we dance together,” she told Extra. “Even just holding my hand, it’s something that I haven’t had for a long time. A hug from a six-foot-three man, it was wonderful.” Welcome back, Céline — your heart will go on and on. -Rob Sheffield
This summer’s hottest rapper is a 23-year-old woman from Philadelphia with a sideways vision of hip-hop realism and a voracious sense of artistic ambition. Whack’s 2018 debut, Whack World, a mind-bending LP of one-minute songs, set the table for a breakout 2019, which she opened by releasing a song a week for five weeks, from the vibe-y “Wasteland” to the hard-hitting “Clones.” Where she will go next is anybody’s guess. -Brittany Spanos
Throw today’s two biggest action stars into the genre’s biggest franchise and you’ve got a blockbuster on steroids. The Fast & Furious spinoff, Hobbs & Shaw, due out August 2nd, forces sworn enemies from past installments — the Rock’s federal agent Hobbs and Jason Statham’s ex-British Special Forces assassin Shaw — to work together against a genetically-enhanced supervillain (Idris Elba). Expect whiplash-inducing stunts, physics-defying fistfights, eyebrow-melting explosions and a truckload of ballbusting zingers between two consummate pros. -Jon Blistein
For years, fans held out hope for more of Jim Henson’s 1982 dark-Muppet fantasy world, The Dark Crystal. Finally, our wish has come true in the form of a 10-episode Netflix series due in August, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. A prequel that follows three good-elf heroes as they try to rescue a life-giving crystal from the evil Mitch McConnell-like Skeksis, this is one nostalgic reboot we can get behind. –David Fear
For political junkies who don’t want a break from the race, even at the beach, try one of these books by a 2020 Democratic contender
Andrew Yang, The War on Normal People (2018)
A surprising page-turner on economics, packed with stats on the effects of AI and automation on our economy. By the end, you’ll be convinced Yang’s “Freedom Dividend” — $1,000 a month for all Americans — will be the only thing standing between us and the robot apocalypse.
Pete Buttigieg, Shortest Way Home (2019)
Figures the erudite Boy Wonder of South Bend would nick the title of his memoir from James Joyce. But the 37-year-old proves he’s done enough living to know about more than the literary canon. As he takes us from the military to the mayor-ship to coming out at 33, it’s clear he’s done hiding.
Elizabeth Warren, This Fight Is Our Fight (2017)
A compendium of the multitude of ways that big business is screwing you — and using the government to do its bidding. Warren follows the money as it exits the pockets of the American middle class and beelines for corporate bottom lines. Best read with a stiff drink.
Kamala Harris, The Truths We Hold (2018)
The California senator offers up a textbook campaign memoir that celebrates her multicultural heritage (she’s the daughter of Indian and Jamaican parents) and her record as a prosecutor without truly exploring the complications of either. Here’s hoping there’s a second volume.
Bernie Sanders, Where We Go From Here (2018)
Tracing his travels around the country during “two years in the resistance” to Trump, Sanders rehashes his platform and rebukes greedy capitalists. There’s plenty to please supporters but little to surprise in his third book in as many years, a run that’s made him (horrors!) a millionaire.
Joe Biden, Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose (2017)
In his deeply personal account of losing his son Beau to brain cancer in 2015, the former vice president shows what was happening behind closed doors during one of the most difficult periods of his life. The decision of whether or not to run in 2016 hovers over Biden and his family as they deal with Beau’s failing health and eventually his death. Obviously, we know what Biden decided. But the timing is right, so he’s running again.
Questlove’s quest for perfect beats and perfect eats have dovetailed lately, and this summer he’ll launch Questlove’s Cheesesteaks at 39 Live Nation venues across the country. The $15 sandwich is Philly style, of course, down to the Amoroso rolls — “key to Philly cheesesteak,” the Philadelphia native testifies. The twist is they’re vegetarian, made with Impossible plant-based meat, a company Questlove’s invested in. “‘Eating Good,’ a Wu Tang term I believe, is a sign of success for the hip-hop generation,” he says. “It means not having to hustle to know where your next meal is coming from, or not subjecting yourself to consuming just anything.” The health-conscious drummer, who picked an Impossible burger over his beef favorite in a blind testing, isn’t looking to convert strict carnivores so much as open their minds. “We simply want to offer the proper alternative — a bridge, if you will, to the other side.” -Will Hermes