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Looking ahead to 2023 in music: Expect drama and excitement, with or without a pandemic

Lead image for music 2023 look-ahead
(Getty Images)

A Beyoncé ́ and Adele Grammy repeat, a blink-182 reunion and the 50th anniversary of hip-hop are among the year’s likely top music events

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The world of music won’t lack excitement or drama in 2023, with or (let us hope) without any pandemic surges.

The best-known lineup of San Diego-bred punk-pop trio blink-182 will kick off its first tour in nearly a decade. It begins with a March 11 open-air performance at Tijuana’s Imperial GNP Festival and include two June concerts at Pechanga Arena San Diego.

The tour opens in March in Tijuana, Mexico. The San Diego-bred trio’s two co-founders rekindled their friendship after bassist-singer Mark Hoppus was diagnosed with lymphoma last year

Adele and Beyoncé will again compete for top honors at the 65th annual edition of the Grammy Awards, which will be hosted for the third consecutive year by now-former late-night TV host Trevor Noah. Will the Grammys finally get it right, or will Beyoncé be the runner-up once more?

This will be the first time the Grammys have included a category for Best Song for Social Change. The category honors songs that promote “peace-building and empathy” with lyrics that address “a timely social issue and promotes understanding.” The nominees, which are being selected by a blue-ribbon panel, have not yet been announced, but expect controversy to ensue.

Mel Brooks, 96, Willie Nelson, 89, John Mayall, 88, and Buddy Guy, 86, are among the oldest artists to earn nominations

Congress will hold antitrust hearings on Ticketmaster and the lack of competition in ticketing markets for concerts and other live events. The hearings were prompted by the uproar that resulted after Ticketmaster canceled the general sale of Taylor Swift tour tickets in November, citing the “historically unprecedented” demand for them. Swift and her fans (and some of their parents) were understandably outraged.

Janet Jackson at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction ceremony, Los Angeles, Nov. 5, 2022.
Janet Jackson will tour next year for the first time since 2019. She is shown here at the 37th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony in Los Angeles on Nov. 5, 2022.
(Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic)

Concert tours galore

Speaking of concert tours, there are a plethora of them this year as artists continue to try and make up for all the canceled and postponed performances of 2020 and 2021.

Bad Bunny is the only other music act to do back-to-back performances at the downtown stadium

Among the tours coming to San Diego are those by Morgan Wallen, who will perform two Petco Park dates; Janet Jackson and Rod Stewart, both at North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre; Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pink, both at the new Snapdragon Stadium in Mission Valley; and Ziggy Marley and Flaming Lips, both at The Sound, the 1,900-capacity Del Mar venue that opens in February.

The 1,900-capacity venue will be run by Belly Up Entertainment, the booking and marketing division of the Belly Up concert venue

And that’s just the tip of the musical iceberg. Also headed here are Graham Nash, They Might Be Giants and Natalie Merchant, all at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay; Maggie Rogers, Keshi and Earth, Wind & Fire, all at The Shell; Billy Strings, Goose and Ramon Ayala, all at SDSU’s Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre; Lizzo, YG, Paramore and SZA, all at Viejas Arena; and the Eagles, Ana Gabriel, Muse and Subtronics, all at Viejas Arena.

The three-day festival resumed Friday after debuting in 2019, then being postponed for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic

The number of major acts headed here increases exponentially when you factor in the return of the Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival, Baja Beach Fest and the Del Mar Fair Grandstand Stage concert series.

As in previous years and decades, some of the biggest tours are skipping San Diego. That means fans here must travel to attend concerts by Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Shania Twain, Ed Sheeran, the farewell tour Dead & Company, and a significant number of other top attractions.

One of the most anticipated musical performances of the year is, for now, a one-time only affair. On June 10, the Gorge Amphitheater in Washington will host “Joni Jam.”

It’s the first official concert by Joni Mitchell since 2000, following her hush-hush, unannounced surprise performance at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island. She’ll be joined by Brandi Carlile, who became a close friend and collaborator after Mitchell suffered a near-fatal brain aneurysm in 2015.

Joni Mitchell on stage in a surprise appearance at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, R.I. on Sunday, July 24, 2022.
(Adam Kissick / Newport Festivals Foundation)

The final standing ovation for Joni Mitchell at Wednesday’s “JONI 75: A Birthday Celebration” came after 21 of her songs had been performed, even though the iconic Canadian troubadour did not sing one note or say a single word.

Hip-hop turns 50

Few details are known yet about what could well be one of the most significant events of the year — a national and worldwide celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.

What is known is that two legendary rappers, Nas and Ice-T, are spearheading two separate anniversary celebrations and that both are seeking to cast as wide a net as possible.

Humphreys hosts The English Beat and El Vez for food bank fundraiser, while Six String Society presents all-San Diego lineup at Belly Up (plus Lady Gaga’s keyboardist)

Rapping itself can be traced back hundreds of years to the West African tradition of the griot, the oral historians who wrote and performed songs to document in music the past and present of their people. That tradition was extended in the late 1960s by such pioneering rap artists as The Last Poets in New York and The Watts Prophets in Los Angeles.

For modern historical purposes, the upcoming 50th anniversary of hip-hop is being pegged to the now-storied party held in a Bronx basement rec room on Aug. 11, 1973. That was when Clive Campbell — soon to be known as DJ Kool Herc — played two copies of the same vinyl record on side-by-side turntables. He moved back and forth, from one record to the other, to create the percussive, dance-friendly instrumental interlude (known as “breaks”) between the verses of the song he was spinning.

Planned tributes to mark the 50th anniversary include yet-to-be-disclosed concerts and the continuation of the ongoing series of documentary films on the TV network Showtime. Also pending are a series of hip-hop soundtracks, produced by Swizz Beatz (the La Jolla-based husband of singer Alicia Keys), The-Dream and others.

If all goes as hoped, the celebrations will showcase rappers, DJs, graffiti artists, break-dancers, beat-boxers and more, both around the country and abroad. Considering how hip-hop has supplanted rock ‘n’ roll in musical dominance over the past two decades, it should be an anniversary worth remembering.


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