There was no shortage of excellent music at the 2019 edition of Cannes Lion. The international gathering of creatives drew top music brands – among them: Spotify, Live Nation, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM/Pandora, VEVO and Universal Music Group – and a slew of well-known acts to stages across the Croissette, to villas above the city and onto the sandy beaches of the French Riviera. While it was nearly impossible to take in all of the musical offerings the festival had to offer, here are eight that proved well worth the price of admission.
Mumford and Sons: The British band brought the rock to the seaside town of Antibes, playing a 45-minute set at the exclusive Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc where iHeartMedia hosted its annual VIP dinner. The group played the hits (“I Will Wait,” “Little Lion Man”) and one noteworthy cover (Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire”) in front of an attentive and sweaty crowd. Holding court were iHeartRadio’s Bob Pittman, Rich Blessler, Tom Poleman and John Sykes along with Glassnote Records’ Daniel Glass and MediaLink head Michael Kassan. Also dotting the room were Ryan Seacrest and Katie Couric (pictured below with Jeffrey Katzenberg), actors Sophia Bush and Ike Barinholtz, “SNL” executive producer Lorne Michaels, pop artists Bebe Rexha and Fletcher and a slew of top media executives including Katzenberg and Meg Whitman of Quibi, WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt, Conde Nast CEO Roger Lynch, Vice CEO Nancy Dubuc and executive chairman Shane Smith, Lachlan Murdoch and Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier, among others.
Sting: Villa Alang Alang, high above the city in the area known as Super Cannes, was the spot for an intimate performance and storytelling session by Sting. Hosted by Live Nation global president of media and sponsorship Russell Wallach and Citi Global Consumer CMO at Jennifer Breithaupt, the June 20 event found the British singer, songwriter and composer sharing tales of van rides with the Police at the start of the group’s career, poking fun at “Every Breath You Take” being used as an evergreen wedding song — considering it’s about stalking — and long walks in the country where he is most often inspired, as he was when he wrote “Fields of Gold.” Rounding out the set were the hits “Roxanne,” “Message in a Bottle” and “Desert Rose.”
Bebe Rexha: Wardrobe malfunction be damned, Bebe Rexha delivered a stellar set at Spotify Beach on June 20 during which she regaled an adoring crowd with stories of her formative years as a songwriter and aspiring pop star. She also took a moment to comment on body-shaming, noting that glam-free images she posts on social media are the ones that receive the biggest levels of engagement — to the tune of 1.4 million likes. “People want real,” she declared, giving props to fellow Warner Music Group artist Lizzo. She also took on ageism, telling those gathered, “I’m turning 30 on August 30 and I’m tired of feeling insecure in the music business because of my age.” Rexha cycled through a slew of hits she wrote for, or with, others (Eminem and Rihanna’s “Monster”, “Me, Myself, and I” with G-Eazy, “In the Name of Love” with Martin Garrix) as well as her own anthemic “I’m a Mess.” She saved the best for last, making her way into the audience then imploring all to sit down for “Meant to Be,” her 2018 chart-topper with Florida Georgia Line. She then made arguably the coolest exit and simply strolled out of the venue and across the street to her hotel.
Tove Lo: Rexha’s warmup act was Swedish singer Tove Lo, who’s logged more than 2 billion total streams on Spotify. Repeating a set from earlier in the week in Stockholm, a slightly tamer Tove Lo sang her best-known tracks, “Talking Body,” “Cool Girls” and “Habits,” and also debuted a new song, the undeniable “Glad He’s Gone.”
Brittany Howard: Grown men cried during a June 19 performance by Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, who debuted new songs from a forthcoming solo album at Villa Alang Alang, where Citi and Live Nation teamed up for an event to promote the new initiative #SeeHerHearHer. Delivered with the ferocity for which the singer, songwriter and guitar player is known, the performance only strengthened the purpose of the gathering of clients, partners and members of the Association of National Advertisers: to increase awareness around gender parity in advertising and the representation of women in the music industry. Said Howard from the stage overlooking the French Riviera: ”I did it my way. I was never gonna give up and I was never gonna listen to what anyone else had to say about what I wanted to do.”
Ciara: Spotify and Hulu co-sponsored a stripped-down poolside set by Ciara, during which she not only ran through her hits “Goodies,” “One Two, Step” and “Level Up,” but also delivered covers of Diana Ross’ “Upside Down” and S.O.S. Band’s “Just Be Good to Me.” Ciara, dressed in a cowgirl motif, also spoke to the crowd of celebrities and executives — among them: Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek (pictured above with Kerry Washington). CFO Barry McCarthy and chief content officer Dawn Ostroff, Wyclef Jean and “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi — about being an independent artist for the first time in her career. Vive la liberté!
Pet Shop Boys: Google Beach was the spot for an exclusive concert by the beloved U.K. duo Pet Shop Boys. The June 19 performance played like a greatest-hits set and ended with favorites “Domino Dancing” and their cover of “You Were Always on My Mind.” Google’s music curation was among the more eclectic at Cannes Lions, and included a DJ set Balearic or Baloney. On June 20, the internet giant held a seaside Pride event that was open to all. It capped off a week of panels and presentations, including a first look at Pharos AR, an AR music experience created by Childish Gambino and Google.
Nas: Celebrating the 25th anniversary of his game-changing debut album,” Illmatic,” Nas took the stage at Spotify Beach to a crowd that included Naomi Campbell and Endeavor’s Bozoma Saint John along with star couples Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union and Ciara and Russell Wilson. The rapper’s set included “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” “I Can” and a remixed “Sweet Dreams.” In anticipation of a new album, “The Lost Tapes II,” Nas also dropped a snippet of a new song, appropriately named “Bonjour.”