Ariana Grande headlined Coachella on Sunday, and it was jam-packed with ’90s nostalgia.

Man, how the hell is anyone going to perform the year after Beychella and not feel like they have an insurmountable mountain (in the shape of a stacked risers stage) to climb. Beyonce’s performance was the pop culture moment of 2018, and its energy still lingers – her stage was resurrected at Coachella this year for people to gawk at, and she has a Netflix presentation of it on the way. It’s not fair to compare Ariana, or really anyone, to Beyonce, so instead of giving you a skewed run-down of Ariana’s set, let’s dive into a couple of the on-stage highlights.


Ariana’s on-stage collaboration with the boy-band (minus Justin Timberlake, who was busy wrapping up his Man of the Woods tour) was a glaring reminder where pop music stands versus where it once did. None of JT’s bandmates saw much mainstream success following the group’s dissolution, and their performance showed it. They joined Ari for a mash-up of “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored” and *NSYNC’s “Makes Me Ill.”

Nicki Minaj

Nicki also joined Ariana on stage, but much like the Queen era, it was plagued with problems. The ladies’ performance of “Bang Bang” became an Internet meme overnight when their ear-pieces malfunctioned – they couldn’t hear each other and the result was a jibber-jabber mosh pit of butchered lyrics and confusion.

Diddy and Mase

The 90s tributes continued when Diddy and Mase joined Ariana for a Notorious B.I.G. tribute.

The Setlist

The Reviews

Ariana is a polarizing pop star, so as expected she received reviews on either end of the spectrum. The LA Times ripped her show apart, whereas Vulture praised it. Beyonce created such a high standard, that any pop star who doesn’t captivate the world with their performance now is doomed from the start. I hope this doesn’t mean Coachella will turn its back on inviting pop stars back, though. Just get Beyonce to commit every year and we’ll be alright.

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