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[The Incidental Tourist]

Which modern chart-toppers might follow Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and the Jonas Brothers to the Strip?

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From left: Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake
Illustration: AP Photos

Whether or not you think nine shows in one month constitutes a Las Vegas Strip residency, you have to admit the Jonas Brothers setting up shop this spring at Park Theater is a really big deal. Announced last month in cooperation with Live Nation, the concerts are set for April 1-18 at Park MGM’s 5,300-seat space, which also hosts residency productions from Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Aerosmith and—unless she adds shows beyond this week’s run—the final performances from Cher.

Even if they don’t return for additional Vegas dates along their reunion Happiness Begins tour, the Jonas Brothers will go down as having played a Strip residency at Park Theater, but more importantly, they’ll join Bruno and Gaga in the ultraexclusive category of modern pop artists who did so at the peak of their careers.

They certainly achieved monumental success as a Disney-backed pop-rock boy band until taking a break in 2013, but it wasn’t until the brothers reunited last year that they achieved their first Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper with “Sucker” and captivated a broader audience. Mars had just swept the Grammys with “Uptown Funk” and released 24K Magic when he started playing regular gigs at Park Theater in December 2016. Gaga opened her Vegas run in the same room two years later, riding high on the success of A Star Is Born, a project that earned her an Academy Award, four Grammys and a Golden Globe.

It’s been said that Britney Spears—who was supposed to start her second Strip residency at Park Theater last year but canceled that show for personal reasons—is the pop star who made it cool for younger, contemporary artists to headline Vegas, but her Piece of Me residency at Planet Hollywood Resort from 2013 to 2017 ended up bolstering her career when album sales had been sagging and clearly paved the way for Spears to tour again in 2017 and 2018. Mars (34) and the Jonas Brothers (ages 27-32) have essentially incorporated their residencies into their tours, a significant innovation.

What’s happening at Park Theater could and should lead to more current chart-topping pop artists signing on for recurring duty in Vegas, especially considering two new residency-ready venues are under construction right now. It’s time for big names that might not have made sense in previous years to step to the Strip. These are the big pop residencies we want to see next.

Justin Timberlake at the Colosseum

His country-tinged 2018 album, Man of the Woods, was his least successful effort to date, but his 2018-2019 tour was another blockbuster. That’s because Timberlake is an exceptional all-around entertainer and would crush the Vegas stage, as evidenced by the 2016 Netflix concert film Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids, shot at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Now 39 years old and a dad, JT has a multigenerational audience, and that’s why he’s a better fit at the Caesars Palace stronghold, which needs its next Celine.

Justin Bieber at Zappos Theater

Just 25 years old and already positioned for a Britney-esque comeback, Bieber is poised for a big year behind his Changes album and tour, which will touch down at T-Mobile Arena on June 2. If he takes a chapter from the book of Bruno and mixes in more Vegas gigs, Planet Hollywood’s Zappos Theater would be the perfect place. Residencies from Spears and Jennifer Lopez turned that room into a club-style party and drew diverse, younger crowds. Bieber’s sound, which has evolved from pop R&B to tropical house and hip-hop-influenced dance music, could do the same.

Taylor Swift at Resorts World

Looks like Allegiant Stadium wasn’t ready in time to get a Lover Fest tour stop. Resorts World won’t open until next summer, but it’s looking to make a big splash on the Strip with its 5,000-seat theater. Rumors have been flying about big names that could put this place on the map. Swift hasn’t been mentioned yet, but her presence could tip the balance of entertainment excitement on the Strip.

Beyoncé at MSG Sphere

Think about Bey’s most epic live performances, from the Super Bowl halftime show to Coachella 2018. Then think about what she could do with the crazy tech that will power the potentially game-changing MSG Sphere, set to open in 2021 behind the Venetian.

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An award-winning writer who has been documenting life in Las Vegas for more than 20 years, Brock Radke covers entertainment ...

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  • The fantastic show will forever be a powerful part of the history and legacy of Las Vegas entertainment.

  • MSG Sphere, Resorts World, the Sahara and beyond.

  • The overall vibe of the show is dark and gritty, a no-holds-barred battle between rival gangs, similar to the tone of Robert Rodriguez’s big-screen version ...

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