Way back in the summer of ’69 (h/t Bryan Adams), Elvis Presley started a Las Vegas residency at the International Hotel that would see him play over 750 sold-out shows to hordes of screaming fans (you’ve seen the videos) but the Strip didn’t hold onto that heat for long.
From the ‘70s on, Vegas became synonymous for slightly, err, past-their-prime performers, a certain kind of lounge singer or variety act who catered to a crowd eager for nostalgia, Blackjack and booze. Hollywood Squares regulars like Charo, cheesy crooners like Tom Jones and Wayne Newton, and magicians (so many magicians!) were among the “big” headliners (insert collar tug here) in Vegas.
Until Céline Dion changed everything.
In 2003, the Canadian superstar turned the Strip upside down with her first Vegas residency. She’s become a proper trendsetter because platinum-selling artists have been lining up to play Sin City ever since and put on shows that are legitimately high-calibre productions.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest acts to see their names lit up on those famous marquees—and who’s poised to hit the Strip.
1. Céline Dion
For a long time, reports about the gambling habits of Dion’s now-deceased husband and manager René Angélil seemed to go hand-in-hand with the singer’s surprising career move to take up residency in Vegas for three years’ worth of shows. Nothing, however, silences critics like staggering success. After first stepping onto the Caesar’s stage in 2003 and earning a cool $100 million for her troubles, the rousing success of A New Day… found Dion extending her run for another two years—as the show became the most successful residency of all time. Her second Vegas show started in 2011 will finally wrap up in June of this year and will have been seen by more than two million people. Bow down to Nevada’s new Queen.
2. Elton John
Ahead of John’s 193-show farewell world tour, the artist did a seven-year stint at Caesar’s Palace titled The Million Dollar Piano. It was his second residency there after his first, The Red Piano, ran from 2004 to 2009. The follow-up residency took its title from the specially designed Yamaha the musician played during the show’s run—it featured 68 LED screens that displayed visuals tied to Elton’s biggest hit like “Rocket Man” and “Benny and The Jets.”
3. Britney Spears
Planet Hollywood announced It’s Britney, b*#ch! back in 2013 with the launch of the singer’s first stint in Vegas Pieces of Me. Just how much does a piece of Spears cost? Around $475,000 per performance after her contract was extended by another two years’ worth of shows. Britney was scheduled to return to the strip with an all-new residency at Park MGM understandably put the project on hiatus due to her dad’s failing health. We’ll wait.
Nora Ephron once wrote that her favourite brunch in Vegas was at the Wynn Hotel. If Drake is as obsessed with brunch as the mind behind When Harry Met Sally… and Julie & Julia, then maybe that explains his upcoming residency at the Wynn’s XS Nightclub. “When I came back, I thought it’d be back at T-Mobile Arena,” Drake told the crowd at an earlier show there. “But I’ll be back here at XS all year. You’ll have a lot of chances to see me.” As for Drizzy, he’s rumoured to have $10 million more in his bank account thanks to the mini-residency that will see shows spread out across 2019 and 2020.
5. Lady Gaga
Dreams (of seeing Lady Gaga perform her Oscar-winning song ‘Shallow’) do come true! The Oscar-winner kicked off a double residency at Vegas’ Park Theatre late last year: one show, Enigma, features Gaga doing the hits—think “Poker Face,” “Just Dance,” and the rest of the star’s catalogue of sing-along-worthy tunes; Jazz and Piano will show fans another side of Gaga as she performs stripped-down arrangements of familiar songs that will sound new to even the most devoted fan.
6. Cardi B
OMG it’s Cardi B! The Grammy-winning rapper will do her very first residency at KAOS’s all-hours club, owned by the Palms Casino Resort. Cardi’s string of shows will mark the club’s opening on April 6, following a $690 million renovation, in Sin City and we can’t imagine a better way to celebrate.
7. Shania Twain
Not to be outdone by Céline, fellow Canadian Shania took to the stage at the Colosseum in 2012 for a two-year run of performances in which levitating motorcycles and professionally trained horses joined her in concert. Since then, no one will be permitted to call country music boring ever again.
8. Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey and Las Vegas seem made for each other, which might be why the singer just keeps coming back to the Strip. Running from 2015 to 2017 Number 1 to Infinity was her first Caesars residency (a concept show that featured the artist singing each of her chart-topping hits in chronological order). Only a year after it ended, Mimi was back with the aptly-titled The Butterfly Returns, which wrapped in February of this year. See you in 2020, Mariah?
Frontman Steven Tyler will celebrate 50 (yep, 5-0) years with Aerosmith this year as they kick off their 18-show Deuces are Wild Las Vegas residency at Park Theatre this month. Aero-heads (is that a thing?) will recognize the residency’s moniker as the title of one of the band’s hits. No word on whether or not Alicia Silverstone will be in attendance.
10. Backstreet Boys
The boys are back in town—but only until April 27. BSB, as they’re known to fans, launched their Larger Than Life residency at Planet Hollywood back in 2017. What began as a short residency (just nine shows) meant to test fans’ appetites, quickly turned into the hottest, best-selling ticket in Las Vegas residency history. What’s next for the ultimate boy band? A world tour, naturally.
The dearly departed Purple One had his year-long residency at the Rio back in 2006, where he performed weekend shows at his own custom nightclub, 3121. When he died in 2016, Las Vegas’ Venetian hotel paid tribute to the iconic performer by lighting up the entire property in purple to honour his passing. On Fremont Street, a digital photo retrospective was splashed across giant screens as his hits blared from outdoor speakers. Vegas <3’s Prince.