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10 Must-See Acts at Lollapalooza

It's the heart of summer, and that means it's nearly time for Lollapalooza. For the ninth straight year, the massive festival touches down in Chicago's Grant Park and, per usual, it comes equipped with a massively stacked lineup. Check out our picks for the 10 must-see acts, from Nine Inch Nails' triumphant return to breakout rap star Kendrick Lamar.

By Dan Hyman

Emeli Sandé

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Emeli Sandé

Thanks to the success of her debut album, Our Version of Events, and its now-ubiquitous radio hit "Next to Me" (which recently got the remix treatment with a guest verse from fellow Lolla act Kendrick Lamar), Emeli Sandé broke through Stateside in 2013. The Scottish singer is fast becoming pop royalty in Europe she took home Album of the Year honors at this year's Brit Awards and counts Elton John and Bono as fans but the quiffed R&B songstress has her eyes set on charming American audiences. "Introducing my music over here is always fun," she says. "I love coming back, and each time it feels like more momentum is building."

Disclosure

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Disclosure

Brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence are only 22 and 19, respectively. But the U.K. DJ duo, who released one of the year’s best dance albums in Settle and have been gigging at clubs for nearly half a decade, come armed with seriously mature-sounding, Nineties-toasting dance grooves. The globetrotting pair first bonded over hip bass-heavy acts like Burial and Floating Points; despite now having a Number One album at home, they have no interest in replicating Top 40 EDM success a la David Guetta or Avicii. "We're not part of that scene at all," Guy says. "We like a bit of class in our music."

Chance The Rapper

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Chance the Rapper

One of hip-hop's hottest young acts is a 20-year-old artsy kid from Chicago named Chancelor. Acid Rap, Chance the Rapper’s spectacularly woozy 2013 mixtape, put him on the rap radar; now practically every major label is itching for dude's ink. Chance, a manic presence onstage who returns home for Lollapalooza after touring with Mac Miller and Earl Sweatshirt, is in no rush to sign on the dotted line. "There's still more time," he says of his reluctance to sign with a major, "and still so many stages to Acid Rap."

Mumford and Sons

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Mumford & Sons

Mumford & Sons disappointed fans when they were forced to cancel their headlining slot at Bonnaroo as a result of bassist Ted Dwane needing emergency surgery for a blood clot on his brain. But after a momentous fest-closing Glastonbury set during which they were joined by members of Vampire Weekend, the Vaccines and more the folkies are ready for a main-stage Lollapalooza throwdown. Don't be surprised, though, if frontman Marcus Mumford wears his emotions on his sleeve while crooning cuts off last year’s Grammy-winning Babel. "We're not like, hard men," admits multi-instrumentalist Winston Marshall. "We're emotional, weeping pussies."

The Cure

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The Cure

"I've actually reached the point where nothing in the world will make me go out and tour again," Robert Smith told Rolling Stone, in 1989. And yet here's the notoriously gloomy singer, at 54, still delivering shows every bit as epic as he did during the height of the Cure's fame. This past April, to celebrate his birthday, the singer (the only remaining original member of the band) and his four mope-rock cohorts charged through a four hour-plus, 50-song set in Mexico City that included four encores. At Lolla, expect the hits ("Lovesong," "Just Like Heaven"), and don't be surprised if some rarities help flesh out the band's festival-closing mainstage set.

Lana Del Rey

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Lana Del Rey

"I'm not a natural performer or exhibitionist," Lana Del Rey admitted in early 2012. Despite it being more than a year since the polarizing singer performed in the U.S., the singer has been able to practice her live chops during her massive, yearlong global tour. And thanks to "Young & Beautiful," her winning contribution to the soundtrack for Baz Luhrmann's new adaptation of The Great Gatsby, Del Rey is very much still in the Stateside conversation. Much of her Lolla set is likely to include choice selections off last year's divisive Born to Die. But in recent interviews she's revealed that she's working on its follow-up an album she described as more stripped-down so she could debut new tunes.

Kendrick Lamar

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Kendrick Lamar

Last summer Kendrick Lamar, a Dr. Dre protégé on the cusp of breaking big, drew rave reviews for his no-holds-barred performance at Chicago's Pitchfork Music Festival. Now, thanks to last year's good kid, m.A.A.d City, his raw, universally acclaimed debut album, the Compton-bred MC returns to the Windy City a bona fide star. The 26-year-old Lamar, who in the past year has hopped on tracks with everyone from 50 Cent to Robin Thicke and the Lonely Island, is focused on the present: his second full-length, he says, will dish on his lavish new lifestyle – "being in the club, having super nice things, but in a relatable way."

Nine Inch Nails

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Nine Inch Nails

Last summer, with Trent Reznor fully engaged by How to Destroy Angels – his project with wife Mariqueen Maandig, Rob Sheridan and Atticus Ross – there was much doubt among fans that Nine Inch Nails, the project that first brought him fame, would ever perform again. But this past February, with one blog post, that all changed: "Nine Inch Nails are touring this year," the multi-instrumentalist wrote on his website. NIN's Lollapalooza gig is one of the industrial-rock outfit's first performances in four years (last week they played Japan's Fuji Rock Festival, where they unveiled the new track "Find My Way"). It's followed by a brand new album, Hesitation Marks (due on September 3rd), which Reznor recently revealed will feature an all-star cast of collaborators, including guitarist Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac.

Cat Power

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Cat Power

Despite releasing her long-awaited new album, Sun, last summer, Chan Marshall, who performs as Cat Power, completely skipped playing on the festival circuit. Don’t be mistaken, though: the notoriously confessional singer was hard at work in the years between Sun, highlighted by Iggy Pop's guest spot on the 11-minute epic "Nothing But Time," and her previous album of original songs, 2006’s The Greatest. “I was busting my ass,” she says. “I wasn’t just sitting around eating bonbons for six years.”

Charles Bradley

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Charles Bradley

Charles Bradley is a feel-good story and one hell of a powerhouse soul singer wrapped in one. The 64-year-old was homeless in New York in the Nineties before landing occasional gigs as a James Brown impersonator. In 2011 he released his first record with Daptone Records, No Time for Dreaming. Since then he's released another stellar LP, this year’s Victim of Love. He's gigged with Stevie Wonder and toured extensively. "God knows, you don't usually get the opportunity at the age of 64," Bradley says of his hard-fought success. "I was one of the blessed ones that God smiled one. I'm going to make up for it."