When Coachella kicks off this weekend, it will boast one of the most globally-minded and gender-diverse lineups in its storied 20-year history. This year’s festival bill features artists from Chile to Japan to Nigeria, many of whom are rarely seen stateside. Here are 10 of most must-see international acts at Empire Polo Grounds this spring.
For fans of: BTS
Korean electro-pop divas Blackpink have not only dominated the K-pop realm, but as of this year, slayed their way into the American mainstream as the genre’s highest-charting female act. The group recently shattered records with their dual song-video release, “Kill This Love,” which became the fastest-liked, fastest-viewed and most-viewed YouTube video in the first 24 hours following its release. Experience their magnitude in real time on Friday, 8 p.m. at the Sahara Stage.
For fans of: Wizkid, Mr Eazi, Drake
Nigerian Afro-fusion don Burna Boy has collaborated with some of music’s biggest acts, from Major Lazer to Fall Out Boy, and most recently Lily Allen. He’s also a serious power player in his own right. Dubbed “The African Giant,” the singer-rapper reaches beyond his roots to craft his own Wild West trap sound on his latest EP, 2019’s Steel & Copper. Burna Boy will make his Indio debut on the Coachella Stage at 3:05 p.m. Sunday.
Christine & The Queens
For fans of: Janelle Monáe, Perfume Genius, MUNA
A self-described “freakpop” extraordinaire, French singer-songwriter Héloïse Letissier — a.k.a. Christine, and sometimes just Chris — evokes Eighties Janet Jackson with a James Dean swagger. She and her squad of dancing queens will bring the heat from her 2018 album, Chris, on Saturday, 7:45 p.m. at the Outdoor Theatre.
For fans of: Bad Bunny, Daddy Yankee, Diplo
This may be first year J Balvin’s name made the official lineup, but this isn’t his first rodeo: The Colombian reggaeton ambassador graced the Coachella Stage with Beyoncé last year, helping Queen Bey perform their global pop hit, “Mi Gente (Remix).” Expect more Latin superhits from Balvin’s excellent 2018 LP, Vibras, and new songs too, featuring Sean Paul and fellow Coachella performer Diplo, on Saturday, 7:10 p.m. at the Coachella Stage.
For fans of: Alex Anwandter, Robyn, Hayley Kiyoko
Armed with an array of vintage Eighties keys and synths, Chilean songstress Javiera Mena is a master of yearning dance-pop anthems. As Latin America’s leading lesbian pop star, she makes history this year as Coachella’s first gay Latina on the bill. Pre-game to her top ten Latin album, 2018’s Espejo, and catch her daylight disco at the Sonora Stage on Saturday, 2:45p.m.
Kero Kero Bonito
For fans of: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, PC Music, every band on Slumberland Records
Hailing from London by way of Otaru, Japan, Kero Kero Bonito frontwoman Sarah Midori Perry is nobody’s corporate Japanese Idol — but on the flipside, the genre-hopping singer-rapper could be everybody’s. Together with Jamie Bulled and Gus Lobban, Perry’s not afraid to muss up her Nintendo-inspired chiptune pop with a bit of surf-rock thrash. The band of Brits will bring their feel-good vibes to the Sonora stage, Friday at 5:45 p.m.
For fans of: Tame Impala, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Lorelle Meets the Obsolete
Just a week after the release of their new EP, Together Outrageously, Costa Rican psych-rockers Las Robertas are primed to mesmerize desert farers with their sunshine-laden jams. Those seeking the classic festival-rock experience will find no better match on Friday’s lineup — Las Robertas go on 2:55 p.m. at the Sonora Stage.
For fans of: Stormzy, Lady Leshurr
There is no other way to describe Little Simz than “unfuckwithable.” The gutsy English rapper first made her mark when Jay Z premiered her 2013 mixtape, Blank Canvas, on his Life + Times blog, then famously slayed in Gorillaz’ 2017 track, “Garage Palace” — but she’s come a long way, baby, and she’s dying to let everybody know. In “Therapy,” a cutting track off her 2019 LP Grey Area, she spits: “[I’ll] teach my daughter about the wonders of the world, I’m convinced/If she’s anything like me, I’m raisin’ a king!” See her storm the Gobi tent with her traveling R&B band at 11 p.m. Saturday.
For fans of: AKB48, Daft Punk
The Japanese pop circuit has had a tendency to chew up and spit out its most viable global stars… except for the all-woman technopop group, Perfume. First established in 2002, the Hiroshima trio have grown to become one of Japan’s most lasting pop acts, as well as the very first J-pop group to perform at Coachella. The world’s sweetest girl gang will bring their brisk future pop to the Gobi Stage Sunday at 8:20 p.m. Just remember to bring your dancing shoes.
For fans of: Björk, J Balvin, El Guincho
Few artists in the Spanish-language world had a better year in 2018 than La Rosalía. After racking up multiple Latin Grammys for her flamenco-pop fusion LP, El Mal Querer, the Barcelona superstar continues her winning streak this year amid the palms. Catch Rosalía and her fierce dance crew before they jet off on a limited run of North American tour dates — Friday, 7:50 p.m at the Mojave Stage.
Tomasa Del Real
For fans of: Ivy Queen, Megan Thee Stallion
As the leading lady of the digital reggaeton movement known as neoperreo, Chilean singer-rapper Tomasa Del Real has suffused Latin America’s urban underground with a cheeky, feminist-forward ethos through songs like “Y Dime” and “Barre con el Pelo.” Tomasa will bring her cyber-tropical utopia to the stage on Friday, 2:05 pm at the Sonora Stage.
Los Tucanes de Tijuana
For fans of: Los Tigres Del Norte
Coming straight out of TJ, Mexican norteño band Los Tucanes are no buzz act. As seasoned veterans of the genre, they will not only be the first norteño band to play the fest, but they will be granted keys to the City of Coachella. It’s well-deserved honor: The band has familial roots in Coachella, and they first cut their teeth in the town’s now-defunct but historical venue, La Copacabana. See them Friday, 3:30 p.m. at the Coachella Stage — and again at CHELLA, a special, off-festival Latin showcase.