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Every Coachella headliner brings out a surprise guest or two during their set, we all know this. And, yet, the cliché still thrills.

It's tough to not get jazzed when A$AP Rocky bounds out from backstage during Doja Cat's performance or when J Balvin brings out, uh, Will Smith?

But even that is comparatively conventional. How typical that a young artist would bring out an elder stateswoman! Love it, seen it, written about it. Hell, even Beyoncé got Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson for her country album.

But Coachella 2024 was different. At two big sets, the roles were reversed and the crown was passed from mother (who is still mothering, of course) to daughter. Not literal daughter, duh — we're talking spiritual successors.

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How else to codify the moments when millennial icons Lana Del Rey and Gwen Stefani passed the torch — er, the mic to Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo, respectively?

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This is the state of celebrity in 2024, with established legends canonizing apostles through public acts.

It's Lana bringing Billie on stage for "Video Games," affirming that Billie is to the heartbroken post-Y2K kids of Gen Z (and Alpha) as Lana is to the twenty and thirty-somethings still sulking to "Summertime Sadness."

It's Gwen Stefani, a Gen X/millennial icon famous enough to still be relevant two decades after cameoing on Dawson's Creek, inviting Olivia to sing "I'm Just a Girl" because Olivia Rodrigo isn't just a girl but actually THE girl.

It's even Patti Smith writing about Dua Lipa's indomitable, inarguable influence for a cover story published in between Coachella's two weekends.

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This all because there's no longer even a whiff of monoculture. Everyone and everything is always famous everywhere and all the time. So, who is actually a celebrity?

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It's not name-brand recognition alone that establishes celebrity today because, otherwise, every fifteen-minuter on TikTok would briefly become an A-lister (they're already becoming overnight models).

So what actually defines an icon? Hit singles? Magazine covers? A career as an influencer? A banger tweet? You're the judge. Celebrity status is now in the eye of the beholder.

Except for when it's conferred by bonafide legends. That's influence you can't buy.

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