Imagine if Don Henley were driving through the Twin Cities and he spotted a "Run the World (Girls)" sticker on a Toyota. Then Mr. Boys of Summer might realize that 2023 is all about the Queens of Summer.

In one of the busiest post-Memorial Day concert slates ever in the Twin Cities, women will rule — from Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Janet Jackson and Madonna to all-world performers Taylor Swift and Beyoncé.

This summer, there are bands to get excited about, including Pearl Jam and the Killers and some solo stars like Lionel Richie and Sam Smith. But the lineup of women filling our stadiums and arenas is in a league of its own — one all-star slugger after another.

We asked two Minnesota music mavens — broadcaster Lori Barghini, co-host of "The Lori & Julia Show" on MyTalk 107.1 FM, and singer Kat Perkins, a finalist on NBC's "The Voice" in 2014 — to join our critic to preview the Queens of Summer.

Janet Jackson

Tuesday, Xcel Energy Center,

She followed her older brothers from the Jackson 5 into showbiz, first television and then music, gaining control and eventually superstardom, while working with Minneapolis producer/songwriters Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

Lori: "The world has known her whole life. We feel like we know her and so just adore her. When 'Control' came out in 1986, it felt like we were rich in dance music. Then 'Rhythm Nation,' 'Janet,' 'The Velvet Rope.' Just incredible songs, dancing, performing. Then we watched her survive that Super Bowl and CBS. … She came out on top!"

Kat: "If there's anyone who makes me want to DANCE, it's our Janet. Minneapolis Sound roots, with all the feels."

Jon: "Thanks to innovative choreographers and sheer hard work, Janet redefined ensemble dancing in videos and in concert. Even if she's lip-syncing, she's always a dynamic treat onstage."

Taylor Swift

June 23-24, U.S. Bank Stadium,

She went from a teen country star to a 20-something pop star to a massive cultural force. She's the most streamed woman on Spotify, the only woman to win three album-of-the-year Grammys and the artist who crashed Ticketmaster computers because of the humongous demand to see her current Eras Tour.

Lori: "An extraordinary songwriter. Her connection with fans is once-in-a-lifetime."

Kat: "Breakup songs, she's got it. Ridiculous production values, she's got it. Worth your money? Every time."

Jon: "Her extraordinary ambition matches her remarkable vision as she creates a fan-thrilling spectacle that Swifties will remember forever. Performing songs from every one of her albums and calling this the Eras Tour is so smart."

Erykah Badu

June 30, Xcel Energy Center,

Like David Bowie and Prince before her, and Beyoncé and Janelle Monáe after her, the queen of neo-soul is one of pop music's marvelous visionaries. She comes with a well contemplated philosophy and an evolved concept for the sound, messages and visuals of her art.

Kat: "Queen of neo-soul and takes me RIGHT BACK to my last years of high school. We are LUCKY to get her in our city."

Jon: "Even though it's been 13 years since she issued a new studio album, she's a must-see every time she comes to town because she's so artful, thoughtful, unpredictable and captivating."


July 20, Huntington Bank Stadium,

She's a mom, a mogul, a music megastar, a magical performer, a movie star, a fashionista, a wife, an activist and a Grammy record-setter (32 trophies and counting). She's simply Queen Bey.

Lori: "THE GREATEST FEMALE ENTERTAINER OF OUR TIME! She is the opening act, the main event and the encore. I'm most excited for this show."

Kat: "The QUEEN! Is she even human? Her live vocals are unmatched. Single ladies, unite!"

Jon: "Always an ambitious and dazzling performer, she opted for fan-satisfying acoustics at the Gophers football stadium instead of the larger (and more lucrative) but acoustically challenging Vikings indoor venue. Bravo!"


July 30, Xcel Energy Center,

She's driven, demanding, provocative and enduring as a recording artist, performer, actress and icon. Celebrating 40 years in the spotlight, the queen of pop, who turns 65 in August, ranks as the bestselling female recording artist of all time.

Lori: "In 1983, my first summer in the Twin Cities after college graduation, Madonna's album came out and we lost our minds for her. 'Borderline' was the anthem. When Dick Clark on 'American Bandstand' asked her something like what's next for you, she said, 'I want to rule the world.' I remember that because that described exactly how my friends and I felt — about everything!"

Kat: "Literally my childhood icon. I've already got my tickets and dug out my 'Desperately Seeking Susan' leather jacket and earrings!"

Jon: "It's easy to admire Madonna and not necessarily easy to like her. Respect her as an inspirational visionary, a hard-driven original, a tough-as-nails survivor, a single mother and a singular artist. Dislike her because she's a demanding, narcissistic, self-aware, self-absorbed, perfectionist diva."


Aug. 10, Target Field,

Raise a glass to the Philadelphia vocal powerhouse who used a creative cocktail of rebellion, heart and humor to conquer the pop charts. But it's with her live performances where she has truly soared — literally.

Lori: "Have loved Pink since her first album. Her openness is genuine, and it shows in her songs, songwriting and performing. Going with my sister and we are giddy about this stadium show."

Kat: "NOBODY sings live more dynamically better than Alecia [Pink's given name]. Never.a.disappointment."

Jon: "Can't wait to see how her daredevil acrobatics transfer to an outdoor stadium. And she doesn't get enough credit as a potent and emotional vocalist."

The Chicks

Aug. 25, State Fair,

Formerly known as the Dixie Chicks, this Texas trio was the hottest act in country music in the late 1990s and early '00s. Then they got blacklisted after lead singer Natalie Maines spoke out in 2003 against the war in Iraq and President George W. Bush. Ever feisty, they bounced back splendidly with 2006's "Taking the Long Way" and 2020's "Gaslighter."

Lori: "When they performed at the State Fair a few years ago, I realized how anthemic the Chicks songs are. 'Goodbye Earl,' 'Gaslighter,' the George Bush mess. Their sound is powerful. They just get better and better at their music. A State Fair highlight."

Kat: "Remember when they were the first group to be 'canceled?' That didn't age well."

Jon: "The fiery Texas trio impresses with their harmonies, instrumental prowess, intelligent songs and uncompromising attitude. They are still not ready to make nice."

Brandi Carlile

Aug. 29, State Fair,

She's never scored a major pop hit, but the big-voiced Grammy winner is widely beloved in the music business, partly for compassionately helping her friends Joni Mitchell and Tanya Tucker make comebacks.

Lori: "Exquisite voice, like the love child of Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt. Exudes a soulful kindness and that comes back from the audience when she performs. A State Fair highlight."

Kat: "Nobody would want to go to this concert with me as I would be SINGING AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS the whole time. Relevant and timeless songs and voice. I wish I was her!"

Jon: "Even though she's become a household name who is invited to seemingly every awards and tribute show, she still manages to get sincerely super-excited to perform in the Twin Cities, the market that first embraced her in a big way."