So it came to pass approximately 72 hours ago; another headliner announced, another bout of apparent outrage from picket wielding, apoplectic masses.
Glastonbury Festival purists have long vocalised their displeasure at bill-toppers they don’t deem fit for the privilege. In 2008 it was Jay Z who was pelted with bottles and ushered towards a prematurely aborted set, in 2011 Z’s better half Beyonce Knowles overcame initial scepticism with an action packed set, and as recently as 2014 no less than Metallica found themselves on the receiving end of the flak from disgruntled ticket holders.
To understand what this is all about, we need to delve into the Glastonbury archives, with the likes of The Kinks, Joan Baez and David Bowie headlining the inaugural events in the early 1970’s –all legends in the making who remained on the ascent, all far removed from predictable pop or mainstream hip-hop.
The trend of selecting upcoming, talented acts that hadn’t started to dim continued well into the 1990’s, with such luminaries as relatively niche duo Happy Mondays and World Party topping the bill.
It was this series of unpredictable, unaffected acts that apparently allured Glastonbury’s legions of loyalists, but inevitably as the scale of the festival grew so did the desire to appeal from a commercial standpoint, hand in hand with those notorious performers themselves craving the UK’s premier musical limelight en mass.
While it’s not entirely surprising that Mr West has had been the subject of petitions to have his name removed from the line-up, it seems that this 60,000 strong (so far) rejection is based almost entirely on the fact that the man himself is a bit of a tool, and shockingly not related to the ridiculous auto-tune voice machine he carries around in his bejazzled man bag.
True, his recent output hasn’t come close to emulating the creative grandeur of College Dropout and 808’s and Heartbreaks respectively, but he remains an instantly recognisable franchise player within an increasingly facile industry, seemingly populated by skinny jean wearing children moulded at the knee of wealthy men with faces full of botox.
“My greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live,”
Kanye pompously stated ad nauseam in the early parts of this decade with his tail feathers gleaming, and although he has refrained from repeating that particular quote recently, his general mind-set remains as haughtily one dimensional as ever.
West is a musician who would deep throat himself on an hourly basis if he was limber enough, and never seems far away from a meltdown, with his perma-glazed disposition, as if he’s gradually transformed from the ventriloquist into the dummy.
2013 album Yeezus was an overly manicured, unashamedly commercial release that dimmed the star of a man who had a few years previously sparred on the same level as hip-hop heavyweights such as Jay-Z, Talib Kweli and Eminem.
Now he finds himself under fire from UK fans, although he’s likely to revel in the vitriol and put on a show that gives a proverbial (and possibly literal) middle finger to the Pyramid Stage’s mosh masses. Every urine sample tossed in his direction destined to be swatted from sight with disregard rather than disgust.
There’s no doubt that based on his musical back catalogue, profile and brand strength, Kanye West is good value for a lead role at Worthy Farm, and, much like Metallica last time out, the dissenting voices and Facebook chain letters will mean little now that every ticket has been sold.
Always controversial, the man who opted to name his child North West may segregate audience opinion, but love or loathe him there’s no denying his value as the kind of legit superstar that these stages fit like a bespoke designer suit, an apt metaphor for a society obsessed with fame and aesthetics.