Among the many sacrifices we've had to make so far this year, festivals have been no exception
This year marks half a century since the first Glastonbury Festival—which, of course, makes it all the more devastating that the world’s most famous celebration of music and the arts was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
And while it’s of some comfort that such major events will one day be back with a vengeance (fingers crossed for Glasto 2021!), it’s unlikely this year’s stellar line-up will ever be exactly recreated.
As such, here’s a whistle-stop imagining of what the 2020 extravaganza would have been like—from familiar faces of yesteryear to modern pop and hip hop gladiators…
1. Diana Ross
This year also marks the 50-year anniversary of soul diva Diana’s solo career, and her eponymous first album, after almost a decade of success with the Supremes.
Thus, this would have been the perfect year for Diana’s Glastonbury debut, and in the “legend” slot, no less, previously occupied by Dolly Parton, Kylie and Lionel Richie.
Listen to: “If We Hold on Together”
Beautiful ballads aren’t Glasto’s raison d'être, but this hidden gem from Diana’s back catalogue would have been the perfect Sunday afternoon hangover balm.
2. Kendrick Lamar
Remember back in 2008, when Liam Gallagher of Oasis said, “I’m not having hip-hop at Glastonbury”? JAY-Z soon put paid to that.
Some 11 years later, Stormzy’s performance at last year’s Glastonbury was one of the decade’s most iconic. Pulitzer Prize-winner Kendrick was set to follow this year, with a Friday night headline slot.
Listen to: “HUMBLE.”
One of Kendrick’s biggest hits in the UK, “HUMBLE.” is arresting and direct, with lyrics just begging to be chanted by 100,000 people.
3. Dua Lipa
Coronavirus has felled festivals, films and albums—but not Dua Lipa’s critically-acclaimed sophomore effort Future Nostalgia, which eased fans into disco-themed lockdown with its early April release.
You can imagine a packed slot at the Other Stage, a la Billie Eilish last year, being the cherry on top of what is still proving to be a great year for Dua.
Listen to: “Don’t Start Now”
This irrepressible dance floor anthem is one of the world’s highest-selling singles of the year so far. It might even dethrone Dua's breakout hit—2017’s “New Rules”—as her signature song.
4. Paul McCartney
One of the most beloved names in music, Paul was set to return to the Pyramid Stage after a successful outing in 2004. Still, some complained Macca was a safe choice.
Then again, with a wealth of Beatles and Wings songs to play with, not to mention 25 studio albums (including 99 singles!) of his own, the thrill would have been in the set list’s unpredictability.
Listen to: “FourFiveSeconds”
Paul’s song with Rihanna and Kanye West is one of his biggest hits this century. Could he have lured the two of them to Worthy Farm to perform it?
Music chameleons Goldfrapp are one of the UK’s most quietly enduringly bands, not to mention Glastonbury veterans, who always put on a theatrical show.
From the squelchy electro of Black Cherry to the folksy fun of Seventh Tree, each new era brings with it an evermore-complex concoction of songs, styles and sounds. With a new album due soon—their last, Silver Eye, was released in 2017—this would likely have been our first peak at what’s next for Alison and Will.
Listen to: “Thea”
The lone beat on the languid and cinematic Tales of Us album from 2013, “Thea” is a dark, mysterious stomper that was made for twilight over Somerset.
6. Lana Del Rey
LDR’s debut album Born To Die is still on the Billboard 200 some eight years after its first release. And while lesser-selling (but critically preferred) later albums have a more subdued sound, BTD’s timeless singles ensure she will always be worthy of high-profile festival appearances. “Off to the Races,” for example, is surprisingly fast for a Lana song, as is last year’s Sublime cover “Doin’ Time”.
Her last Glastonbury performance was during the day, but a late night slot would suit her better—as per her glamorous and bombastic closing turn at last year’s Latitude.
Listen to: “California”
Last year’s Norman F***ing Rockwell was Lana’s Record of the Year Grammy-nominated magnum opus, and “California” is its raw, rocky and earnest best song.
7. Taylor Swift
T-Swift was to be 2020’s sole female headliner, joining a maddeningly short lineage that includes Adele (2016), Florence + The Machine (2015), Beyonce (2011), Meg of The White Stripes (2005), Skunk Anansie’s Skin (1999), Shakespeare’s Sister (1992), Sinead O’Connor (1990) and Suzanne Vega (1989). (Skunk Anansie, Sinead and Suzanne were all set to return to Glastonbury this year, FYI).
At the tender age of 30, Taylor certainly boasts a headliner’s discography: her singles “Blank Space” and “Shake It Off” have each sold over 14 million copies, while “Love Story,” “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” have all sold over 6 million copies.
Listen to: “22”
The beauty of a headliner’s set? The luxury of time to explore lesser hits and forgotten favourites. The lowest charting single from 2013 album Red, “22” is Taylor epitomised: fizzy, joyous and universally relatable, and featuring impressively snappy lyrics: “We’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time; it’s miserable and magical, oh yeah…”
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