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The 2018 Coachella Lineup Poster Tells You Everything You Need to Know Where Rock Stands Today

The lineup for this year’s Coachella was announced yesterday, sending everyone to the poster to parse which bands are represented by which font size. But you don’t need a magnifying glass to determine what Coachella is all about this year. If we look at the lineup as a snapshot of where music is at, a barometer of the American musical zeitgeist. More than ever, it’s clear that rock music in all its forms has fallen below rap, hip-hop, and R&B as a driver of popular culture in the US.

Now let’s go back ten years. Notice anything different?

Now let’s go back to the very beginning in 1999.

See what I mean?

If you want to dig into the history of Coachella, here’s every poster published since 1999. Watch as music morphs away from the Alternative 90s to the hip-hop driven music of today. If anyone wants to create a genre analysis infographic, be my guest.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that rock is dead and is going to fade away. There’s plenty of rock on this year’s, but you do have to read the fine print; most of the rock acts are in tiny fonts. (The situation is worse for EDM; that bubble seems to have burst).

But after dominating culture for more than 50 years, rock has definitely slipped from being the top music genre–at least in the US. The Coachella posters don’t lie.

If you’re a child of the 70s, 80s or 90s, I completely understand if your reaction to the 2018 post is “WHAT’S HAPPENED TO MUSIC? I DON’T KNOW ANY OF THESE NAMES!” You, my friend, are having a Generation Gap moment.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38303 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

5 thoughts on “The 2018 Coachella Lineup Poster Tells You Everything You Need to Know Where Rock Stands Today

  • I see two performers that interest me on the entire 2018 roster. Two out of how many?

    I wish North America would get the rock-centered festivals you see in Europe.

  • Coachella is a platform for modern music no matter what that is. If popular music in recent years does not include rock and roll, then why would Coachella inculde it. Music evolved. So did Coachella. If the artists on the poster didn’t change over the years, there would be something wrong. I feel like Coachella is being accused of breaking an agreement to rock and roll, which never was. Modern rock and roll can be seen in bands that are listed in the 2018 Coahella.

  • Otoboke Beaver is playing on the Saturday. They are an excellent punk band from Japan

  • Pingback: A Journal of Musical ThingsCoachella moves further away from its rock roots. What are we to make of this? - A Journal of Musical Things

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