“The petition has given way to a barrage of vitriol on West”
Back in 2008, Jay-Z became the first ever R&B act to headline the prestigious Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. Noel Gallagher, opinionated and angry Manc, infamously lambasted the decision saying, “Glastonbury has a tradition of guitar music… I’m not having hip-hop at Glastonbury. It’s wrong”
As history tends to repeat itself, last week saw a similar reaction to the decision to give Kanye West a headline slot. A petition was started on change.org under the title ‘Cancel Kanye West’s headline slot and get a rock band’ and as of the time of this writing, the petition has received over 100,000 signatures.
The petition was started by Neil Lonsdale who wrote:
“Kanye West is an insult to music fans all over the world. We spend hundreds of pounds to attend glasto, and by doing so, expect a certain level of entertainment. Kanye has been very outspoken on his views on music…. He should listen to his own advice and pass his headline slot on to someone deserving! Lets prevent this musical injustice now!”
There are very few rock bands, or should that be ‘guitar music’ artists, that can hold a candle up to Kanye West. He is one of the world’s best-selling and most awarded artists of all time, having sold more than 21 million albums worldwide and winner of 21 Grammy Awards. The Foo-Fighters, who are also headlining, have sold 11.1 million albums and won 11 Grammy Awards.
Of the 100,000 plus signatures, it is worth recognising that the signatories of the petition are not restricted to just ticket holders of the festival, with many signing from overseas. It would seem that the petition has, essentially, given way to a barrage of vitriol on West flooding in from all corners of the globe and is undoubtedly a pretext for the mass media to slam another negative story on the star.
In an interview with NME, Lonsdale admitted he has never actually attended Glastonbury before. He further made a tit of himself by saying “It is expected that it [Glastonbury] has the biggest names. The biggest performers. Kanye does not represent that.” A reminder that Lonsdale is referring to the same Kanye West that has been awarded 21 Grammy Awards, sold-out every tour he has had to date and is never absent from newspaper headlines.
To say Glastonbury only has room for rock music cheapens its legacy and shoehorns it into a genre it does not sit comfortably in. Nevertheless, the festival is home to over 100 stages, meaning there is plenty of room for every other grunge, indie, folk, garage, glam metal, Christian punk or whatever other ‘rock’ acts you could wish for.
Yes, West may be overtly self-assured but what rock stars aren’t? Come June, no one wants a wallflower on the Pyramid Stage; festivalgoers want balls, sass and music that raises questions and eyebrows – things that have typically been in rock music’s domain, but if you want boundaries pushed nowadays – you find it in hip-hop.
Glastonbury Festival takes place between the 24th and 28th of June. West, we hope, will top the bill on the Saturday night.