iHeartRadio Music Festival is one of the biggest mainstream music festivals every year. Its September weekend dates make it far enough away from the summer music festival group to stand on its own. However, it’s lineup is scattered all over the radio, making it one of the most well-known music festival lineups every year. It takes place over two days and one weekend, Friday and Saturday September 22nd and 23rd, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.
iHeartRadio is a leading company in radio, handling some of the biggest talk shows and stations in the country. Their backing to the festival further expands the company’s reach.
Friday September 22nd
Coldplay is currently touring for their 2017 leg of “A Head Full of Dreams Tour” that got underway in 2016. This supported their 2015 album A Head Full of Dreams. Coldplay brought gushing colors and peace & love to their newest album. It’s a pop rock foundation that is set to make for an excellent live performance. Concertgoers each get a bracelet that lights up different colors depending on the song. Therefore, the kaleidoscope of color is seen from the stage to the highest stadium seats. The effect is magical, and Coldplay added the 2017 leg due to the high demand during their first string of shows.
Their iHeartRadio Music Festival performance should incorporate the same hippie-like, colorful display that their tour does. Coldplay dropped an EP Kaleidoscope earlier this year that includes the hit collab “Something Just Like This” with The Chainsmokers. It also includes “Miracles (Someone Special)” featuring Big Sean, and Big Sean is performing at iHeartRadio, as well. Maybe a surprise collaboration performance will take place?
The Weeknd released his album Starboy in 2016. Since the release, he has toured on multiple legs of the “Starboy World Tour.” Therefore, it’s been a busy year-and-a-half for The Weeknd. In addition to Starboy, The Weeknd collaborated on multiple projects, most recently “Curve” with Gucci Mane. The dark, R&B artist is one of the hottest commodities in the genre, transforming R&B and hip-hop’s crossroads to a fantasy place all his own. The famous, wild dreads cut away after Beauty Behind the Madness, his first blow-up album. Starboy showed a new image of The Weeknd, one where a physical aspect didn’t define him.
Though Starboy is still dark, it’s dark in different ways. Starboy analyzes fame, riches, success, and partying for its uptakes and its pitfalls. The most intriguing quality of The Weeknd is the contrast between The Weeknd and Abel Tesfaye. While The Weeknd is twisted, slinky, and fascinating, Tesfaye is quiet and sweet. That doesn’t mean that his music doesn’t have correlation to his real life.
However, Tesfaye is not always the messed-up Weeknd self-portrayed throughout his music. Nevertheless, The Weeknd and fellow R&B singers such as Frank Ocean have revived the genre, spinning it into a new dimension the past decade after filling a void in the genre in recent years.
Chris Stapleton is releasing his 2017 album in two parts: From A Room: Volume 1 and From A Room: Volume 2. Volume 1 dropped in May, and his “All-American Roadshow Tour” followed. However, Stapleton’s finger injury postponed some of his tour dates this past summer. He is healthy once again and performing at iHeartRadio Music Festival as one of a few country acts in the mostly-pop lineup.
Stapleton excels because he remains true to a traditional, gritty country sound while still enveloping a large fan base with his music. Staying away from country bro or country pop music, Stapleton truly is his own artist. Volume 1 includes a mix of slow, country ballads similar to “Tennessee Whiskey” and foot-stompers such as “Second One To Know.”
P!nk is back in 2017 with the exclamation point and all. After dropping her first single “What About Us” in years, P!nk is dropping her new album Beautiful Trauma out in mid-October. Fans can expect maybe some new music during her iHeartRadio Music Festival performance, as her one single is her only new music so far. Her popstar role follows a refreshing path from outcast, bad girl to empowered mother and independent pop rockstar.
P!nk is a more androgynous female popstar who embraces diversity in all of its forms. She is one of the stars who uses her platforms to promote an inclusive environment, and her new album will most likely have political notes while also embracing her fun, free side. In addition, her journey as a mother might find its way into her new music, as well. P!nk gave birth to her second child, a boy, this year. He joins his five-year-old sister Willow as part of the family.
Thirty Seconds to Mars
Thirty Seconds to Mars are returning with new music. Though there is no confirmed album yet, Thirty Seconds to Mars dropped “Walk On Water” and performed it at the 2017 MTV VMAs. They haven’t released an album since 2013 titled Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams. They also are just finishing up at a tour with PVRIS and Muse that took place over the summer.
Therefore, expect a lot more to come from Thirty Seconds to Mars going into 2018. An album, a headliner tour… it has all the potential to happen. Though they are one of the smaller acts at the festival by sheer popularity, the band set up of Thirty Seconds to Mars will be a refreshing switch-up from the plethora of solo acts over the weekend.
David Guetta is an EDM artist and producer who’s worked with some of the biggest pop artists in the world. His new song “2U” with Justin Bieber blew up the charts over the summer. He has a catalog of great hits including “Hey Mama” with Nicki Minaj and more. Guetta will be a huge crowd booster and electrifying act to watch. EDM artists have a huge power at music festivals to get the crowd revved up and excited. Guetta should be no different, and his set will be a energy highlight of iHeartRadio Music Festival.
Harry Styles is one of the most exciting acts of the festival, as he began his first solo tour this week, as well. His debut self-titled album dropped in May. Following a rock sound, Styles will perform smaller venues in 2017 followed by a 2018 stadium tour leg. It will be exciting to see the One Direction member carve his own style on stage now that fans know what he went after in the studio.
“Sign of the Times” was the album’s lead single followed by “Sweet Creature.” The two book-ended the extreme artistic differences in the album from huge rock ballad to polite-and-sensitive guitar plucking. Fans can expect a simplistic set and performative style, as his previous televised performances seem to stick to the classic rock performance rather than anything over-the-top.
Saturday September 23rd
DJ Khaled is unique. That’s for certain. His baby son Asahd and DJ Khaled have extensively promoted DJ Khaled’s new album Grateful. Grateful includes bangers such as “I’m the One” and “Wild Thoughts.” DJ Khaled is the ultimate feel-good energizer. A producer, a write, a hitmaker, a DJ. Though many believe that he is lost behind the scenes of the big stars on his tracks, his depth in the industry proves otherwise.
“I’m the One” was the song of Summer 2017 featuring names like Chance The Rapper, Lil Wayne, Quavo, and Justin Bieber, the prince of pop. In addition, his Asahd Grateful cover and dad-and-son stick has won over hearts of fans everywhere. Instead of a sleezy, back-room, no work ethic image, DJ Khaled has maintained friendships with the best in the industry; so much so that he squeezes epic songs out of each artist’s strengths and puts in the background work to make it happen.
His philosophical social media presence is what garnered the older hip-hop star recent fame. His hits and production have been in the genre for years, but it wasn’t until his Snapchat mantras and new fatherhood that Khaled once again progressed forward in his career.
Positivity. Simple as that. He promotes love, family, good vibes, and everything else that the negative news pushes out. Some might call it fake or call his actual music talentless. Regardless of opinion, DJ Khaled has made a brand for himself that Asahd is now part of. The brand is out to do good in the world. His “keys” to success and to life are the cornerstone of his brand.
Grateful incorporates this social media mogul status with his family, and his DJ abilities will make for an entertaining, hits-filled set for DJ Khaled. The hip-hop star is one of the biggest successes of the generation without doing more than a few strategic career moves along the way.
Miley Cyrus is reviving and restructuring her career post-Bangerz-and-Dead–Petz phase. After separating from fiancé Liam Hemsworth, delving through her weed-heavy, twerking phase, Cyrus decided that change was necessary in her life.
Still quirky and colorful, Cyrus has dimmed down the partying and discovered what makes her happy long term. Hemsworth is now back in her life, and Cyrus returns with a reflective new album Younger Now to drop this fall.
Younger Now includes the lead single “Malibu,” directly about her recovered relationship with Hemsworth. The two find a quiet paradise in Malibu as their home. This shows the new artistic phase for Cyrus throughout the album.
In her Billboard cover story, Cyrus noted that two songs on the album are for Hillary Clinton and women in the workplace, but the remainder are a reflection on her past few years of maturing and her happiness in her relationship. Cyrus, without a doubt, is showing her fans a new side of her. Her growth in the spotlight, from Hannah Montana to tongue sticking out, demonstrates a childhood star who’s found her happy place.
Kings of Leon
Kings of Leon dropped WALLS in 2016. Then, they toured a great part of 2017 in support of the album. This was a huge album for the band, as 2011’s onstage meltdown and hiatus prompted questions about the band’s future. Kings of Leon are fun. Their boozy, crazy stories made for one of the biggest bands almost ten years prior, romping around music festival grounds and tour routes but leaving messes in their wake. It wasn’t just booze. It was drugs. The typical band hellhole that not many revive safely out of.
Though they did release a post-hiatus album in 2013 titled Mechanical Bull, WALLS had a certain pressure that the previous hadn’t. They still hadn’t reclaimed the fame from the high of the madness, for better and for worse. After switching up producers, the band found themselves in new territory for WALLS, and the process was refreshing.
The band members are all married now, and most have children. Their 2017 “WALLS World Tour” wrapped up earlier this year, and the band made it successfully out the other side. The manner in which Kings of Leon attacks music now is healthier than back then. Though the members don’t regret it, it was much needed for the lifespan on the band and each other. Kings of Leon will most likely perform tracks from WALLS in addition to their famous “Sex On Fire” at iHeartRadio Music Festival.
Big Sean dropped I Decided earlier this year. He is one of the underrated acts in mainstream hip-hop. Big Sean’s features are the brightest segments of hit songs. This list includes “Feels” with Calvin Harris, Katy Perry, and Pharrell and “Miracles (Somebody Special)” with Coldplay. Hits from I Decided include “Bounce Back.” Big Sean’s flow and positive energy creates for a great performance. In addition, his Detroit-based talent brings light a city that isn’t heavily recognized in the hip-hop community.
Big Sean will perform hits such as “Bounce Back” in addition to older hits, as well, including “I Don’t Fuck With You” and more. He will bring a little more of the pure hip-hop to the forefront of the festival, as there aren’t many rappers in the lineup.
Lorde surfaced with her sophomore album Melodrama. She is touring the U.S. in 2018. Before then, Lorde performed at a series of music festivals this summer, and her list includes the fall iHeartRadio Music Festival. Melodrama did not disappoint. Pure Heroine is an angsty, reflective, socially-critical teenage album unlike anything else in pop music. However, Melodrama brings to life Lorde’s first heartbreak and young years partying, and that in itself made for some of her more introspective and tender music to date.
Lorde is one of the unique pop stars who, by being herself, explored a new area of the genre and transformed the future of pop. Lorde’s performative style is eccentric, however. Her dancing is unscripted and wild, making for an interesting and unexpected set. She’s one artist who’s truly not afraid to just be herself. Her dancehall-rhythm Melodrama still holds all of the excellent lyrical qualities of Pure Heroine but with different subject matter.
Niall Horan is another One Direction member beginning his solo career. His debut solo album Flicker drops in October, and he is performing his “Flicker Sessions 2017 Tour” at intimate venues across the country. Then, 2018 sees another, bigger leg of the tour with country singer Maren Morris as the opener. Horan has dropped three singles: “This Town,” “Slow Hands,” and “Too Much To Ask.”
Horan, unlike Styles’ rock side, is more pop and slightly country on his new tracks. The singer-songwriter vibe certainly ebbs through the tracks. Horan’s personality to the public is sweet and sensitive, and that reflects in his singles. “Slow Hands” gave fans a different, steamier side to the singer that demonstrates his growth as an artist from the poppy One Direction jams. His performance style is also to be determined, as he’s played scattered music festivals but has yet to tour solo.
Thomas Rhett released his new album Life Changes this month. It hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts, breaking a drought in country music of no No. 1 spots. Rhett is a cross between pop and country similar to Sam Hunt. His 2015 album Tangled Up began to show that change towards a quirky pop country route with hits like “T-Shirt” and “Crash and Burn.” His most recent notable hit, however, is “Die a Happy Man,” a love song to his wife. The new album includes a hit with Maren Morris titled “Craving You” in addition to “Unforgettable.”
Rhett is the classic good guy. His lyrics and country style is feel-good and fun. His performance should reflect that image with a mix of his older and newer hits. Rhett is still young (25), so he still has many years ahead of him in his career and a lot of energy to bring to each performance.
Kesha will be one of the biggest talking points of the night. Due to her legal battle and the unfolding drama, she has rarely performed the past few years. That changes after the release of her new album Rainbow that dropped in August. Her “Rainbow Tour” will get underway this fall, and the iHeartRadio Music Festival is one of her first major performances leading up to the tour.
Expect to hear classic Kesha hits but also a large chunk dedicated to Rainbow. This can break from the intense “Praying” to the upbeat “Learn to Let Go.” Kesha brings her open-minded, inclusive mindset and her public, difficult battle with Dr. Luke to the forefront of her public persona. Due to the publicity, Kesha stands for a positive cause for women and an ability to embrace your true self flaws and all.
Her new music seems to demonstrate her growth, shedding old, toxic layers to own a new version of herself. Though she doesn’t aggressively call out her rapist Dr. Luke, there are references to the multitude of obstacles she’s overcome. This includes her sexual assault but also overcoming an eating disorder and fighting for justice.
Macklemore drops his new album GEMINI, his first major album without Ryan Lewis, this week. Kesha collaborates with Macklemore on his album for the song “Good Old Days.” Macklemore will most likely be a guest collaborator during her set to share his new song.
Khalid will open for Lorde’s European tour leg this year, and he might be the guest collaborator during her set for the iHeartRadio Music Festival.
Bleachers, headed by producer Jack Antonoff (Lorde, Taylor Swift), is performing during the festival. They dropped their new album Gone Now earlier this year. Antonoff is close to Lorde, as he produced Melodrama. His band might be part of her set, as well.
Bebe Rexha is a pop princess rising on the charts due to excellent features and her own EPs. I could see a P!nk or David Guetta collaboration in the works for a performance.
Louis Tomlinson is also beginning to release his own music (one song with Bebe Rexha titled “Back to You”). Tomlinson can potentially come out with either Horan or Styles or both or an almost One Direction reunion. There are hints that he will be touring in 2018.