Yesterday, Ed Sheeran posted a video to Instagram of him sharing “awesome” news in front of a stock photo of cows – he is headlining Glastonbury. He joins Radiohead and Foo Fighters on the iconic Pyramid stage.
It’s great news for Ed. And the other acts. All three headliners are deserving of a place on the famous stage – which, arguably, is just a small part of what’s known as “the greatest festival on earth”. But it’s also 10 white men (and counting), all wielding guitars – all playing the same music at different volumes – in the most prestigious spots. Because, you know, diversity is key.
The line-up does seem like somewhat of an oversight, especially since organiser Emily Eavis has spoken openly about her awareness of the issue in the past. "It's important that we have women at the top as well as men," she told Noisey in 2015, "but we also need those female artists to be pushed through – by record companies, radio and the media." Doesn't Glastonbury also have the power to create that "push"?
There is a plethora of women who are more than capable of commanding the Pyramid top spot – Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Sia, Beyoncé, The XX, Taylor Swift. Since we’re including non-current artists (Foo Fighters haven’t released an album since 2014), why not Madonna? Let’s have a Fleetwood Mac reunion à la The Rolling Stones in 2013.
Doesn't Glastonbury also have the power to create that 'push'?
It shouldn’t need to be pointed out that Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran and Radiohead are also mostly white. In this case, the artists of colour who could represent on the Pyramid stage would be far too long to list here.
The irony is not lost that Glastonbury is one of the most inclusive festivals in the season. It is the single most diverse place I have ever been – all ages, races and genders come together for a shared experience. The people who pay almost £250 for a ticket deserve this to be reflected on the stage.
My hope is that these women were approached and offered the headline slots. Maybe they were smart enough to decline Glastonbury’s often under-par pay. But, whatever the reason behind it, one thing is certain: the Glastonbury we know and love can definitely do a bit better.