FEATURE: Glastonbury 2019: Has It Moved Forward at All?



Glastonbury 2019

IMAGE CREDIT: @GlastoFest  

Has It Moved Forward at All?


THE list of artists who will play this year’s Glastonbury...

 IN THIS PHOTO: Christine and the Queens/PHOTO CREDIT: Eva Pentel for DIY

have been announced and, whilst there are more names coming, we have the idea regarding the sort of sounds that will define the festival, it is interesting to see how things have changed through the years. It is definitely a packed and varied festival with plenty of great talent in the pack. Here, as The Guardian writes, there is an eclectic spirit running through the line-up:

The Killers and the Cure have been announced as the final headliners of the 2019 Glastonbury festival. Brandon Flowers’ Vegas band will headline on the Saturday, and Robert Smith and co on the Sunday. They join the previously announced headliner Stormzy, who will close the Pyramid stage on Friday night.

It is the Cure’s fourth time headlining Glastonbury, following slots in 1986, 1990 and 1995. They join Coldplay as the only groups to have headlined the festival four times.

Down the bill, there are first-time Glastonbury appearances from Janet Jackson, Lauryn Hill and Miley Cyrus, among others. Liam Gallagher will follow his packed Other stage show at Glastonbury 2017, and Christine and the Queens returns for her second Glastonbury, having provided a flash of European optimism with her debut at the 2016 festival, the day after the UK voted to leave the EU.

There is a strong showing for the crop of young, game-changing pop stars: the goth-pop icon-in-the-making Billie Eilish joins the hip-hop and flute polymath Lizzo. The Spanish flamenco trap musician Rosalía, Norwegian power-popper Sigrid, British producer Shura and Fiona Apple-endorsed King Princess also perform...


IN THIS PHOTO: Kamasi Washington/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

The UK rap scene is well represented with Stefflon Don, Little Simz, Kate Tempest, Loyle Carner, Slowthai and Bugzy Malone, as is the burgeoning international jazz community with Kamasi Washington and Britain’s Sons of Kemet and the Comet is Coming. Britain and Ireland’s male singer-songwriter set is represented by George Ezra, Hozier, Rex Orange County and the socially conscious guitarist Sam Fender”.

I do like the fact Glastonbury have mixed in new Pop artists and the best when it comes to British Rap. It is hard to include every genre together but the fact Glastonbury is not all about Pop and Rock is rewarding. Stormzy is a good headline shout because it breaks away from the usual Rock bands and provides a platform for British Grime and Rap. I will come to the headliners soon but I do like the look of the artists under the headliners. More names are coming through but some of my recent favourites, like IDLES and Jorja Smith, have a chance to capitalise on successful 2018s and get their music to a new audience. Similarly, it is good that newer artists like Anne-Marie get to sit alongside established names such as Sheryl Crow. Glastonbury has always been good regarding its blend of the older and new and this year is no exception. This means that revellers of all ages will come along and there will be this great community.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Kacey Musgraves (omitted from this year’s Glastonbury line-up)/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Look down at the line-up and one can have few reservations regarding the mix of genres. There has been criticism that some genres have been left out. I wonder whether Country artists like Kacey Musgraves got a call and whether Country as a whole was considered. I do feel like there is a place for greater variety. The same can be said of Metal. Maybe adding a big Country name like Kacey Musgraves alongside a legendary Metal band or newer name would make Glastonbury even broader. I know there are specialist festivals for Metal but many would like to see it play a part at the country’s biggest event – it has been missing for a very long time now. More names will be revealed so we cannot say we have seen everything yet. It is the powerful female showing of Janelle Monáe, Christine and the Queens and Janet Jackson that excites me. Many, myself included, are thrilled to see Janet Jackson included on the bill. Many of us know her biggest hits but she will have chance to play a career-spanning set to a delighted crowd. I am about to feature her album, The Velvet Rope, later today so I will be in Jackson territory for the rest of the day! It would be good to see more bands in general because, largely, this year’s line-up is solo-heavy.


 IN THIS PHOTO: Janet Jackson/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

I am glad obvious names like Foo Fighters and Muse are excluded but there are a lot of great bands emerging that would benefit from a spot. Look at the best albums from 2018 and it is a little odd not seeing some of their creators included. Cardi B (Invasion of Privacy) and Ariana Grande (Sweetener) could sit alongside The 1975 (A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships) and Robyn (Honey). There is no inclusion of Arctic Monkeys and I do hope some of these names get included later. It is wonderful Lauryn Hill and Liam Gallagher are involved but I do wonder why names such as George Ezra keep getting appearing so high! He is headlining and dominating festivals at the moment and I cannot figure out why! He has a bland sort of Pop charm but it is not something that needs to appear at so many big festivals. Kylie Minogue has been confirmed already to play in the ‘legends’ slot and I do wonder whether we will see more like her, who can bring genuine fun, coming along. I was a little shocked to see artists such as Hot Chip and Pond appear on the bill when there is an absence of bigger acts. I guess you need to balance the established with the rising so, in many ways, it is hard to please everyone. There is a nice balance of British and American artists but not that many from outside these two countries – except for a bit of Swedish and French shine.


 IN THIS PHOTO: Stormzy/PHOTO CREDIT: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage

To me, the biggest benefits and standouts from the names already announced is the variety of sounds. It is one of the most multifarious rundowns and many new punters will come to Worthy Farm in Somerset. I do feel like, in future years, a few extra steps can be taken regarding ignored genres but we have Rap, Grime; Jazz, Pop and everything else thrown into the blender! A major festival should not be just about big names and those who have enjoyed long careers. Stormzy’s headline set is a rare chance for a new artist – only one album in – to have their say. Including icons like Janet Jackson, Kylie Minogue and Lauryn Hill in the mix gives Glastonbury a strong backbone and that sense that, regardless of the weather, people will flock to see them! Although organisers Michael and Emily Eavis tried to get a fifty-fifty gender balance, about 42% of the names are women. I am curious how one tries and fails to get a fifty-fifty split. Surely it is simple arithmetic and you just invite a few more women?! One doubts they’d refuse and so, next year, there is no excuse for needlessly having a male majority...however small it appears. Artists like Kacey Musgraves, St. Vincent and Dream Wife would have been terrific and, if it meant bumping a few lesser-known male names then so be it! It is strange hearing excuses and wondering why, when the most exciting music made right now is by women, there is still that male majority.

 IN THIS PHOTO: A guaranteed crowd-pleaser, Lizzo/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

It is good to see Sharon Van Etten on the bill and also Little Simz. They have both turned in terrific albums this year – Remind Me Tomorrow and GREY Area respectively – but where is Julia Jacklin? She has been consistently great and, with Crushing, provided us one of the best albums so far this year. Despite my gripes, the bill is pretty solid and a lot of effort has gone in. Seeing the names most likely to provoke excitement and dance and, again, they are women. Look at Janet Jackson, Christine and the Queens and Kylie Minogue; Lizzo, Billie Eilish and Sigrid; Miley Cyrus is in there too – an unusual booking but a pretty good shout. There is a lot of energy in there and, when compared to some of the boys on the bill, I think the greatest power and pull will come from the women! I understand that Janelle Monáe is headlining a stage and Kylie Minogue is the big name in the legend slot but when it comes to the Pyramid Stage and, effectively, the major headliners it is another case of men ruling. I could forgive, maybe, male-heavy headliners if the rest of the bill was dominated by women. As it stands, we have an imbalance further down the bill and 100& men as the headliners. Excluding names I have already mentioned, I could rattle off a dozen-plus women who could replace any of the headliners.


 IN THIS PHOTO: The Cure’s Robert Smith/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

I knew The Cure were headlining because they have been odds-on for weeks now and nobody is shocked. You need a legendary act as a headliner and The Cure’s inclusion is good. I was wondering whether Sir Paul McCartney would get the call but The Cure have a huge fanbase and their headline slot is welcomed. They have headlined before but I know they will be adding new songs and elements to their set this time around. Stormzy’s headline nod was always going to divide people but, as we have a new male artist and an iconic male group already confirmed then why add a third?! The Killers have their own qualities but they are not really adding anything truly exciting or new to Glastonbury. You need a female voice at the top of the bill and, looking at this year’s headliners, it seems like we are traveling back in time. Glastonbury’s bill shows progression but the headliners seem to have frozen us about a decade or two back! The headliners are the big selling-point and a big reason to come to Glastonbury. I am annoyed, if not surprised, there is an all-male look – cast your eye back to the last decade of Glastonbury and you can pretty much count the female headliners on two hands and have fingers left! – but it is general quality that frustrates me. I do think that, looking forward, the Eavis’ need to think more about gender balance and providing a more exhilarating headline look.


 IN THIS PHOTO: The Killers/PHOTO CREDIT: Eric Weiss

2017 saw Ed Sheeran included alongside Foo Fighters (turning in the same old set) and it has been a long time since we have seen a truly standout, history-making set. Regardless of the predictable gender imbalance and that beige headline booking, the rest of the bill should sort of set an example as to what we want the headliners to be about. The fact Janet Jackson is getting more positive buzz than The Killers makes me wonder why she could not have been booked as a headliner. There is definite forward-movement regarding genre diversity and bringing more to the party. I do feel like that reach need to stretch a bit more for 2020 but it is a pleasing mix of newer and big names on the poster. Even if the weather does not hold up, there is plenty of strut and electricity to get people jumping and united. That is what we need, I guess. We are in a very testing and struggling time so music can fill that gap. I am not quite enticed enough to go to Glastonbury – the headliners need to be a bit stronger – but it is wonderful seeing so many promising newcomers get their shot. To mark a busy and eclectic Glastonbury – with more names still to come – I have put together a playlist of songs from the artists already booked. As the playlist shows, the sheer assortment of sounds...

 IN THIS PHOTO: Kylie Minogue/PHOTO CREDIT: Kylie Minogue/Getty Images

IS amazing.