Cosmic Slop #54: Can Glastonbury ever get it right?
As social media bemoans the lazy choice of Glastonbury’s headliners, Shaun Ponsonby asks if the festival will ever be able to announce headliners without an outcry.
With spring just around the corner, despite what the overall climate suggests, Glastonbury have started their annual process of gradually announcing headliners and teasing us all over who will top the bill at Worthy Farm. At time of writing, they have announced two headliners, and in both instances the general reaction has been one of an almighty groan from us humanoids.
After already headlining 37 billion times, the first name announced was Coldplay, who are destined to leave both Glastonbury and millions of viewers on BBC 2 in a tedious nadir of dull anti-climatic dirge. You can say what you want about Coldplay, but at least they have an appropriate name. It is arguably the only work of genius they have ever produced.
Despite my dislike of Chris Martin and the other three, they are a Glastonbury-level headliner. I might be a little snarky occasionally, but credit where credit’s due; they have been undeniably successful, fair play. The problem isn’t that they are headlining Glastonbury, the problem is that they are headlining Glastonbury again.
This is their fourth headline performance, the most that anyone has ever topped the bill. Even the most ardent Coldplay fan – if any – must agree that this is a little excessive. But they might have even got away with that if it wasn’t for the other headliner they announced.
Muse are decidedly less dull than Coldplay, but are now topping the bill for third time, with the press touting “the first band to headline each night of the festival” like it’s a good thing. It seems this year they decided to do Glastonbury-by-numbers. Like when a long-running TV series does a cheesy clip show. Specifically, the All Singing All Dancing one The Simpsons did.
I mean, who’s next? Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds? Oh, fuck! It’s going to be Noel Gallagher, isn’t it? I mean after the inevitable “Oasis are going to reunite” rumours die out, of course.
But this got me thinking; can Glastonbury ever get it right?
Last year thousands of very silly people were so enraged at the presence of Kanye West that they threatened to send their tickets back without actually doing so. Glastonbury took a chance and decided to book an unlikable, borderline sociopath who raps really well and although reviews were mixed, it was an interesting booking at least.
People protest when anyone leftfield headlines the Pyramid Stage. When Metallica played, they were considered too heavy and not a good fit. When Jay-Z played, he was considered too urban. When Beyonce played, manly men thought she had far too much vagina. Last year Kanye was too much of a twat.
Now people are protesting because Muse and Coldplay are far too safe. Last year, The Vaccines complained that The Who were too safe, despite the presence of Kanye and – by the time they made the comment – Florence + The Machine stepping up to replace Foo Fighters (and succeeding pretty damn well, incidentally). So what are they supposed to do?
Honestly, they need to do whatever the hell they want to do and pay no attention to whiners like me who have a shallow enough existence that he voluntarily writes a weekly column in which he bitches at length about things that generally don’t matter in the grand scheme of things just so someone will pay attention to them.
But, still – in an age where sales are decreasing and most of the cash is being pumped into the Justin Biebers of the world, a festival like Glastonbury needs to think outside the box to keep a steady stream of headliners. Reading and Leeds have this year been forced to take the unconventional route of having five co-headliners over three days for lack of suitable acts. Recycling the same old faces is the wrong way to go, and the safeness of this year’s headliners is a bad signifier if it’s to be a continuing trend.
So, let’s hope they have someone more interesting for Saturday night. Probably the only person who can hit all the bases is Prince. But, alas, the Eavis’ have said that all headliners are British, which leads to one terrifying possibility.
Fun trivia: the extortionate price of Bruce Springsteen‘s UK Stadium tour is such that you could, in fact, go to Glastonbury for a mere £50 more.
Having said “who is Thom Yorke?” at the Golden Globes, falsely claimed to be the first openly gay man to win an Oscar, then suggesting he should date a previous gay winner who is now deceased, maybe it is a good thing that Sam Smith is taking a break from Twitter. If you are going to make a public statement, do your fucking research, lest you consistently appear about as intelligent as a rake.
That would be an ecumenical matter.