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Bad Bunny Headlining Coachella: Why Did It Take So Long?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

The iconic Coachella music festival began its two-weekend run this month on April 14, and with it came an insane lineup consisting of big names like BLACKPINK, blink-182, Metro Boomin, Kali Uchis, and—most notably for me—Bad Bunny. The Puerto-Rican singer became the first Latin artist to ever headline the festival since its start in 1999. Many Latino artists have had their time in the spotlight performing at the festival, including Becky G, Sabrina Claudio, and J Balvin, but none were ever chosen to have their names be the largest on the poster. That decision was a historic moment for the Latino community, especially the people of Puerto Rico. 

Bad Bunny was first invited to perform at Coachella in 2019 as an emerging rap/reggaeton artist. During this performance, he highlighted how special and important it is to be a Latin artist at a mainstream music festival where English is the primary language. He even brought out his collaborator J Balvin to perform “Tu Sensualidad” and “I Like It,” which at the time had reached the main pop radio and was dominating the charts. 

Four years later in 2023, Bad Bunny headlined the festival on the first night of each of two weekends. He opened his set with a video montage paying homage to the festival’s previous headliners. Later, he shared another montage of all the Puerto Rican reggaeton artists that inspired his music. His historic set paid tribute to the history of Spanish music and all the legends before him that brought him to where he is today. 

Benito also showcased a variety of special guests during his performances each weekend, with the lengthy list including Arcangel, Grupo Frontera, Jhay Cortez, Jowell & Randy, Jose Feliciano, Nengo Flow, and Post Malone. 

The crowd seemed like an endless sea of Puerto Rican flags and Latinos showing off their Hispanic pride, dancing and screaming throughout his entire set. Bad Bunny took this opportunity, in front of hundreds of thousands of people, to express his gratitude for his Puerto Rican roots and his amazing fans that have stuck by him all these years. There’s just a certain energy that only Spanish music can bring to a crowd, and that was fully showcased at Bad Bunny’s Coachella set this year. 

Now the question on my mind is: Why did it take so long for a Latin artist to headline Coachella? Granted, it’s understandable that an incredibly popular mainstream music festival would cater to their English-speaking festivalgoers and choose popular English-pop artists to headline, but Spanish music has been dominating mainstream pop radio since 2018, at the very least. 

Bad Bunny was already attracting a completely different and livelier crowd to the festival in 2019 when he performed on the main stage, with his loyal fans following suit wherever he went. However, he wasn’t at the peak of his popularity yet, so it seems 2023 was the perfect year for them to present him with this opportunity. His headlining set brought so many people to the desert, both newcomers who were attending just to see him perform and frequent flyers who attend the festival regardless of the performers. Additionally, this moment brought Bad Bunny to possibly the highest point in his career right now, after coming off a summer stadium tour and being nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammys. 

I think that Bad Bunny headlining Coachella this year has opened a ton of doors for Latino artists to make their breakthroughs in the US, and it truly is only the start of the movement. The future is looking incredibly bright for Bad Bunny and many other Latin artists hoping to spread their work to non-Spanish speaking populations, and I’m excited to see what comes next from here. 

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hi! my name's allison, i'm currently attending florida state university majoring in exercise physiology in hopes of going to med school to become an ob/gyn! i'm an iced coffee lover, heavy criminal minds watcher, and a pumpkin flavored everything enthusiast.