Coachella 2022’s Biggest Moments: Cameos

Justin Bieber, Shania Twain, Khalid, Phoebe Bridgers, Arcade Fire, 2NE1, Damon Albarn, De La Soul’s Posdnuos, Jhené Aiko, Saweetie, Karol G, Snoop Dogg, DJ Tiesto juice-up an already juiced-up festival line-up.

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Harry’s House: Shania Twain who made a surprise appearance during Harry Styles’ Coachella set on April 15, 2022 in Indio, California, was one of this year’s many cameos. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for ABA)

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is consistently one of the globe’s most high-profile and biggest revenue generating festivals with far more in store than just its announced lineups. Beyond this year’s headliners, which included Harry Styles and Billie Eilish, as well as the Weeknd and Swedish House Mafia filling in for last-minute cancellation Kanye West, were a plethora of top-tier artists who seemingly more than ever popped up unexpectedly on the fest’s biggest stages and cavernous tents much to the giddy delight of fans, the media and artists’ marketing teams.

And why not? A Coachella cameo is a promotional opportunity on steroids. A top artist’s appearance not only generates a massive buzz amongst the estimated 750,000 who turn out over the course of Coachella’s two consecutive weekends (for an average of 125K per day), but also hits an exponentially far more massive audience via livestreaming, social media, and wall-to-wall media coverage. Coachella’s first weekend in 2019, the fest’s last iteration, hit a record-setting 82.9 million live YouTube views. At that rate, everything is viral.

In 2022, with the glut of festivals and tours concurrently hitting the road and picking up steam thru summer and fall, along with myriad new singles and albums dropping, an appearance at Coachella can do more to help promote and sell music and tickets than all the grueling media days combined.

Country superstar Shania Twain, 56, helped kick off the Coachella cameos Friday night with an unlikely bill: “The Queen of Country Pop” joined Harry Styles, 28, in matching sequins no less, for Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” and “You’re Still the One.” In June, Twain continues her “Let’s Go” Las Vegas residency at the Zappos Theater. Hazzah, meanwhile, took the opportunity to preview several songs from his upcoming album Harry’s House (out May 20, Columbia Records) including “Boyfriends” and “Late Night Talking.”

Earlier in the day, Justin Bieber joined Daniel Caesar for their hit single “Peaches,” which this year was nominated for four Grammys, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best R&B Performance, and Best Music Video. Bieber is currently amidst his “Justice World Tour,” which runs through March 2023 and came in sixth on this week’s Live75 Chart with an average ticket sales of 12,347 over the course of four shows and an average gross of $1.8 million, according to Pollstar Boxoffice reports.

Billie Eilish may have had the best Coachella cameo game. On Saturday, she had, not one, not two, but three special guest appearances from high-profile artists albeit of different generations and genres: 24-year-old R&B wunderkind Khalid performed with Eilish on their pathos-filled single “Lovely” (which they also performed at Coachella in 2019); and Damon Albarn, the 54-year old British rock star of Blur, Gorillaz and The Good, The Bad and The Queen, along with old school hip-hop legend, De La Soul’s Posdnous (a.k.a. Kelvin Mercer, 51), who together performed the Gorillaz’s groove-filled 2005 hit “Feel Good Inc.” Albarn also sang with Eilish on “Getting Older.”

In November, Albarn released a solo album, The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows, and has a Paris residency this month and, with the Gorillaz, is hitting the European festival circuit beginning in May. Eilish, meanwhile, is currently amidst her “Happier Than Ever, The World Tour,” which kicked off at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center on Feb. 3, 2022 and runs for 71 shows.

Other cameos included: Doja Cat bringing out Tyga (“Juice”) and Rico Nasty (“Tia Tamera”) for her epic set complete with massive set production and danceer; two Pollstar cover subjects, Phoebe Bridgers, who performed Friday night, dropping in on Arlo Parks’ Saturday set at the Gobi tent for “Black Dog;” Brazilian superstar Anitta being introduced by Snoop Dogg and later joined by rapper Saweetie for “Faking Love;” and Big Sean bringing out singer Jhené Aiko (also his girlfriend) for the tracks “Beware” and “I Know.”

Meanwhile, Canadian Grammy winners Arcade Fire played a completely unannounced hour-long set Friday evening in the Mojave Tent. Their surprise show included a preview of tracks from both their forthcoming album WE (out May 6, Columbia Records),

Other notable appearances included film composer great Danny Elfman, of Oingo Bingo fame, performing with Wes Borland, formerly of Limp Bizkit; Colombian singer Karol G bringing out DJ Tiesto for “Don’t By Shy” and later Becky G (no relation) for their single “Mamii;” and during Friday’s Emo Night set, DJs Morgan Freed and T.J. Petracca had Tom Higgenson of Plain White T’s sing “Hey There Delilah.”

One of the festival’s biggest global moments, however, came during 88rising’s main stage takeover, which included a surprise reunion of K-pop sensations 2NE1 after six years apart that sent shock waves around the world. How far off can their next tour and/or album be?