Glastonbury headliners blokefest is sloppy, sloppy… and very off-brand | Barbara Ellen

And lo, Glastonbury announces 2023 main stage headliners, and it’s a blokefest. After Saturday night’s female headliner (rumoured, Taylor Swift) dropped out, Pyramid stage headliners became Arctic Monkeys Friday, followed by Guns N’ Roses on Saturday, with Elton John on Sunday. While it doesn’t seem possible that anti-female bias is involved, at the very least, how sloppy, how sloppy it all is.

Whatever image it conveys, it’s been a while since Glastonbury was ruled by a bunch of hippies with a hay wagon and a dream. It is a multi-million pound global business; the UK’s leading festival brand. He would – or should – have backups in mind if the artists pulled out.

As part of this routine planning, and given Glastonbury’s inclusive reputation, care should be taken to balance programming at all levels, including high-level performances. If a major female headliner drops out, get another major female headliner. With the eyes of the world on the Glastonbury Festival main stage on a June weekend, optics matter.

Beyoncé at Glastonbury 2011. She triumphed after ‘the aggrieved guy crying’ received the news from her headliner. Photography: Alicia Canter/Alicia Canter (commissioned)

In fairness to Glastonbury, elsewhere on the bill there are a host of talented successful female performers: Lana Del Rey, blonde, Candi Station, Alison Goldfrapp, and more. Grammy-winning, multimillion-selling artist Lizzo will perform just before Guns N’ Roses, and Glastonbury organizer Emily Eavis enthuses: “She could totally make the headlines. I totally agree. So why doesn’t Lizzo do it? Are Guns N’ Roses too irresistible?

Eavis also mentions the hard work put in place to secure Elton John for Sunday night (handwritten notes, the lot), but where was all that graft when it came to getting another female headliner? Even the news that there could be two female stars headlining at Glastonbury next year seems a bit condescending. As in: “Patience, little ladies, don’t spin your frills.” There could be two whole women next year”.

Again to be fair to Glastonbury, at least he is aware of the comfort zone of the White Bloke Music festival. Who could forget the absurd story when Jay-Z made headlines in 2008followed by an even more aggrieved guy crying into plastic beer glasses when Beyoncé stormed the main stage three years later? The very fact that Glastonbury has the form to hold its own makes it perplexing and disappointing that it’s apparently acceptable – no problem – for this year’s main stage to be an area with no female headliners.

Coming so soon after no woman is nominated for best entertainer at the British, the female performers could be forgiven for feeling a bit paranoid. The idea that too few female acts have enough pulling power or influence is dated and bizarre. Madonna’s upcoming celebratory tour (greatest hits) will be one of the biggest hits of the year. AT Glastonbury last yearthere was immense interest in seeing the future wet leg that the festival’s programming rules have now been changed to be more flexible. At this year’s Glastonbury Festival, who would dream of missing Blondie?

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Glastonbury also propelled incredible numbers up or off the beaten path, including Stormzy, who put on a stunning show in 2019. Another year, the popular but arty and left-handed Pulp stepped in to the stone roses when Roses guitarist John Squire was injured. Amid the outpouring of grief and respect for Pulp bassist Steve Mackey, tragically passed away Thursdayit was striking how many times that night in 1995 was hailed as one of Glastonbury’s finest performances.

Eavis makes an important point when she says it’s partly a deep-rooted “pipeline problem” in the music industry, involving record labels, radio shows and everything in between. . The music industry is plagued by sexism and misogyny. It devalues ​​women, stereotypes women, invests less in women, gives women fewer opportunities. You name it, it does it for women. It always has and probably always will. But, in this case, so is Glastonbury.

It’s not just about featuring female acts, it’s also about prioritizing them. It’s not just a question of numbers, it’s a question of positioning. And, let’s face it, this is supposed to be the liberal wheelhouse of Glastonbury.

Although the festival is under more pressure to be inclusive, it also derives vast reputational benefits, which helps cement its commercial success. There was huge goodwill last year towards Glastonbury – people were excited to see it (and other festivals) back after lockdown. This goodwill depends in part on Glastonbury not reflecting the sexism of the music industry.

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