Words: Andy Vale
364 days of the year you can find smug Glastonbury fans pontificating about the variety of music at the festival across all billion stages, as well as all the people playing in car-parks, the campsites, and probably in the bogs too. I'm not going to lie, it sounds really cool.
But then ONE headliner gets announced that they dislike, and suddenly the festival has gone down the pan. There's even a lame petition. They moaned about Metallica, they moaned about Jay-Z, who both gave storming performances. I guess their definition of 'variety' only extends to stuff that you could play during the day on Radio 2, but having a bit of 6music fodder at arm's length in the background makes them feel like there's a bit of edge to the whole thing.
Glastonbury's current full-title is 'Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts', and its headliners have to reflect that once in a while. It's not 'Glastonbury Festival Of Mostly White Men Playing Guitars Although We Got Beyoncé Once'. Whether you hate him with every fibre of your being, or love him so much that you want to lick the sweat from his chest, there's no denying that the bloke is one of the most successful contemporary performing artists on the planet. He's had 6 US number 1 albums, with all of them going gold or platinum in the UK, meanwhile Yeezus alone pushed more musical boundaries than the majority of Foo Fighters' entire discography has even attempted to.
According to some, he's not 'earned' the slot. What else does he need to do? You could also argue that he's achieved far more thus far in his career than Radiohead, Oasis, Arctic Monkeys and plenty of other headliners had when they made their first headline appearence at the festival. Is there one benchmark for indie/rock bands to headline, and a ludicrously higher one for rap, pop and metal artists? Because on paper, that looks to be the case.
The funny thing is that a lot of the people are complaining about it already have their ticket. If that's you, guess what? You're the reason they can make a booking like this in the first place! Every year, 135,000 tickets are sold before a single act is announced. This means they can take risks (although one of the biggest modern solo acts on the planet isn't much of a risk) because they don't have to constantly worry about shifting tickets.
Compare this with Download or Sonisphere, who basically have to stick to the same small, ageing clique of rock dinosaurs in order to keep people coming through the door. In fact, the one year Sonisphere tried to mix things up a bit and didn't book Iron Maiden or Metallica, they had to cancel it because they didn't sell enough tickets!
Imagine if Glastonbury went the same way, and had to book Mumford & Sons, Blurasis, and Paul McCartney every year just to keep the gates open. Sure, it's a dream booking for some but it gets a bit stale year after year.
Look, if you're still dripping tears into your organic muesli then fear not. I will gladly take your ticket to spare you the ignominy of seeing one of the biggest, and most exciting, artists on the planet in the white-hot phase of his career. Kanye can be a total jackass, we are well aware of that fact. But when musical history has lauded known woman beaters, people whose racist comments sparked long-term movements against racism in music, and those with a questionable past relating to kids, he's probably far from the worst person to take the stage at Glasto.
If you dislike him, fine. According to our maths in the opening paragraph, there are 999,999,999 other stages and a port-a-loo full of music that you can check out instead. Do that, then tell the whole world how you watched that instead of Kanye and act like you deserve a medal for it. Or just go and enjoy what you want, because there's nothing wrong with not liking Kanye. But don't spit guff about 'real' music, or the 'right' headliner for Glastonbury, when what you actually mean is "I just want more of the same bands I've seen before... at this festival to celebrate the broad spectrum of contemporary musical art."
I ain't sayin' she a hole digger, but she ain't messin' with no polyfilla.
Andy is a Supajam writer who has had music-based roles at numerous Commerical, BBC and Student radio stations over the last 8 years. He has a website where he interviews musicians with only one question, and he is currently typing in third-person. You can tweet abuse at him if you fancy letting off some steam.