Five acts that could headline Glastonbury Festival 2017

After festival tickets sold out in around 50 minutes and Radiohead were consequently yet uncharacteristically prematurely confirmed as the first Glastonbury 2017 headliner, the rumour mill, as it does year upon year, has since gone into overdrive with regards to which acts could join Thom Yorke and his band in realistically taking up the remaining headlining spots at Glastonbury 2017. As artists’ tour dates begin to be announced, advertised often as that ‘perfect Christmas present’ and timed ever so coincidentally with the largest period of spending each year, the more savvy music lover ahead of any future announcements will already be dissecting upcoming live performances and searching for a Glastonbury sized gap in the tour dates in any of their favourite acts. Building on the success of Glastonbury’s divergence to appeal to a broader audience, it is likely that the festival may opt for a solo act to headline one of the remaining two nights, following in the footsteps of Adele, Beyoncé and Jay-Z who certainly made their headline spot their own without looking lost or out of the depth despite the scale of the event. Therefore with no further a due, @ASelbyInfo takes a look at five potential Glastonbury 2017 headliners, ranking each acts’ chances with the ‘Welly Watch’ with 1/5 wellies being very unlikely and 5/5 wellies all but confirmed by my estimation.

Ed Sheeran

Welly Watch: w4

After nearly a year away from all forms of social media, taking a sabbatical from ‘seeing the world through a screen’, could Ed Sheeran be about to make a long awaited comeback and be broadcast live on the BBC as one of the three Glastonbury 2017 headliners? After last performing at the festival back in 2014 to a packed out field at the Pyramid stage, 2017 could yet be the year in which Sheeran completes his journey to the top of the Glastonbury tree, appearing at Glastonbury several times before with his first performance way back in 2011. A headline spot could be just rewards for the English singer-songwriter after a highly successful few years since his last showing. Ed Sheeran was named the 27th-highest-earning celebrity in the world with Forbes listing his earnings at $57 million and as well as being a multi-award winning artist and even an honorary degree holder from the University Campus Suffolk in Ipswich for his outstanding contribution to music, the words ‘Glastonbury Headliner’ could be all that is missing from already glittering CV.

As a potential headliner, Ed Sheeran may be seen as an attractive option by Michael and Emily Eavis for a number of reasons. As well as knowing the festival well and being a well-reported personal admirer of the yearly event, as an act, you could say that Sheeran’s stock has never been higher. His most recent album X peaked at number one in both the UK and the US with Sheeran even winning a Brit Award for Album of the Year in 2015 alongside an Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year. Likewise his song ‘Thinking Out Loud’ earned Sheeran two Grammy Awards in 2016 for Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance.Ed Sheeran has therefore grown from a boy to man, transforming from a baby-faced pop star with a guitar and continues to widen his reach through every new release. Still bordering on producing chart music that would traditionally class in the pop music genre, the statistics certainly do not lie and there is no denying Sheeran has developed since his debut album + back in 2011. Plus following his recent production of the latest Bridget Jones soundtrack this year, I do think that Ed Sheeran should now be viewed as much more than just a popular, token act aimed largely at pulling in a younger audience and greater viewing figures, instead more as an act that would fully warrant such a standing at the largest festival in the United Kingdom.

Yet despite his success and vast experience performing live, there is a question of whether 2017 could perhaps be that bit too soon for Sheeran to make the step up in headlining the festival. Does Sheeran need another album, a wider back catalogue and further success to fully justify a headliner position? Glastonbury organisers will be the judge of that but with a fallow year on the horizon, this could well force their hand on acting sooner rather than waiting until 2018. Bookmakers seem to think so too after betting was suspended in early November following a flurry of bets placed on Sheeran to headline the festival. Whether an announcement is imminent or a rumoured appearance is nothing more than paper talk remains to be seen – it could well have been a case of hungry punters ‘thinking out loud’.

Rihanna

Welly watch: w2

After the success of previous female solo headliners Adele and Beyoncé, perhaps there’s only Katy Perry and Taylor Swift who’ve worked quite as hard as Rihanna but are still to headline the iconic music festival. Glastonbury hit the headlines earlier this year after announcing they were to introduce a women-only venue in the festival’s Shangri-La zone named ‘The Sisterhood’, as well as promising a line-up strong on women in order to change the outlook for female musicians at the largest music festivals across the UK – starting at Glastonbury. As a further statement to point out gender inequality, what could therefore better than selecting Rihanna as a Pyramid Stage headliner? Not only would it continue to reflect the festival’s traditional values and forward thinking approach but in doing so hosting one of the best in the business as a Saturday or Sunday night headliner.

Yet in what would be her first time performing live at Glastonbury Festival, what could we expect from Rihanna if the Eavis’ decide to book her as a headliner? Well first and foremost unlike many singers of her generation, Rihanna’s extensive back catalogue for me at least stands out that bit more than her contemporaries. After first making her way into the English charts way back in 2005 with single Pon de Replay reaching number two in the UK charts, it seems like Rihanna has been around forever. A master at cracking the charts, Rihanna recently overtook The Beatles for the total number of weeks spent at number one in the US with 2016 hit single Work giving Rihanna an overall tally of 60 weeks at number one with 14 different songs. Closer to home meanwhile Rihanna’s chart figures in the UK are somewhat eye-watering with a total of 8 UK number one singles and 4 UK number one albums with 669 weeks spent in the UK Top 40 singles chart and 328 weeks in the Top 40 album charts. For these reasons Rihanna could be seen as a wise booking, worth every penny to help attract a younger audience and to perhaps further reassert the need for more gender equality in music and society itself. And at a festival about more than just the music with those on the Pyramid forming a tiny percent of the different activities and attractions on offer across the 1100 acre festival site, at least Rihanna’s chart success would mean that even those with other musical interests may find themselves going, singing along and most likely enjoying an artist with such an abundance of popular songs.

Conversely looking at Rihanna as a potential headliner from her individual perspective as an artist, a headline set at Glastonbury could be significant and for the reasons of more than just a lucrative appearance fee. After The Daily Mirror reported earlier this year that her most recent UK tour struggled, specifically her London date at Wembley Stadium reportedly only half-full with tickets later selling for less than face value on secondary ticketing websites, being gifted a prestigious headline spot such as Glastonbury could arguably be the best thing for her career right now. Glastonbury is the last of the biggest European festivals she has yet to have performed at and if money is not an issue for the Barbadian songstress then it is about time the festival made it happen. Her previous festival headline appearances at T in the Park, V Festival and Wireless have always been proved an enormous success and her star continues to shine bright like a diamond. In previous years where Rihanna had not been approached by Glastonbury to play at the festival, UK tour dates coinciding with the Glastonbury weekend has regularly led Glasto goers into thinking and perhaps hoping that a secret-set or a surprise guest appearance with Kanye West or Coldplay may have been on the cards but sadly not – testament to her appeal as an act no matter what your musical taste may be.

Genuinely speaking, if I was in charge of securing next year’s acts then should Rihanna comply with the festivals, what modern-day music fans may brand outdated yet traditional approach of securing headline acts on a limited budget, then I wouldn’t think twice about making Rihanna one of next years headlines. For me there are very few chances being taken through booking Rihanna and it certainly wouldn’t be an issue of Russian roulette in doing so with no SOS needed for sure. Yet on a more serious note, however much you may think Rihanna should and could headline this year the bookmakers think otherwise, despite initial odds back in September of 5/1 perhaps alluding to a possible festival appearance next year, these have become much longer in recent times. Just like the bookmakers, I therefore think a Rihanna appearance next year is highly unlikely.

Phil Collins

Welly Watch: w3

Another name that has been thrown into contention for next years festival is the singer song-writer and Genesis drummer Phil Collins. Despite signing a deal with the Warner Music Group back in May 2015 to remaster eight solo albums alongside previously unreleased material, there appeared to be little of Collins returning to perform live and produce new music. Six months later after regularly teasing the media with a potential return to music, Collins may have announced publicly that he was no longer retired and that a new album was in the planning stages, as well as returning to the studio working alongside Adele, but 2016 was to prove whether there was any real truth in his plans for going back. But seriously… although a return to recording and performing live is a decision that has to be taken carefully and certainly one that can’t be hurried, as planned Collins had actually returned by mid-2016 with eight remastered albums including demos, live versions and bonus tracks even re-doing the artwork on the majority of his albums. Therefore against all odds, a seemingly refreshed and committed Phil Collins is back and can therefore be seen as a potential Glastonbury 2017 headliner.

As an act on any festival line-up, Phil Collins brings a wealth of experience and numerous hits and I believe Collins would widely be viewed as a fantastic booking for any of the world’s major music festivals – a testament to just how far and wide his music has been appreciated, receiving global popularity and to how long his career has spanned since joining Genesis in 1970 up to the present day. As one of the world’s best selling artists, Collins’ eight studio albums are reported to have sold around 33.5M units in the USA alone with and an estimated 150M worldwide. Alongside music royalty Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, Collins can be found in an extremely exclusive club of artists selling over 100M records throughout the world both as an individual recording solo artist and collectively as a principal member in a band. With such records broken could Phil Collins be about to join another exclusive club of those to grace the Pyramid Stage as a Glasto headliner? Mike Rutherford of Genesis may have stated that even a headline spot at Glastonbury would not be enough to get the band back together therefore Phil Collins may have personal aspirations to build on his 1979 appearance with Peter Gabriel and Tom Robinson and instead headline Glastonbury out right.

Furthermore in an industry dominated by chart standings, number of records sold and amount of awards won, as you would expect Phil Collins’ honours list makes for very impressive reading too. In the space of seven years between 1983-90, the Englishman topped the chart on three occasions in the UK and seven times in the USA. Seven Grammy Awards, six Brit’s, two Golden Globe’s and one Academy, Disney Legend and Hollywood Walk of Fame award later, as well as a place in both the Songwriters and Rock and Roll Hall of Fames and not even forgetting the success achieved with Genesis, there may only be one accolade that Collins could still be craving – a headline spot on the iconic Pyramid Stage.

Coinciding with the release of autobiography ‘Not Dead Yet in October 2016, Phil Collins announced at a London press conference he will go on tour in 2017 with a production sharing the name with his new book. The low-key European tour was announced at the Royal Albert Hall where Collins will play five concerts next year with a further in both Cologne, Germany and Paris, France – a much wider set of live performance since his last performance with student musicians in Miami back in 2014. And with this European tour scheduled, I can feel a Glastonbury performance coming in the air but on which night and at what time, I am unsure. Yet however capable that he may be of headlining the festival, I would not be one surprised if Collins takes up the prestigious Sunday sunset legends spot on the Pyramid Stage instead, if offered.

Lady Gaga

Welly watch: w4

She sent Glastonbury Gaga back in 2009 with her memorable Other Stage performance for many a highlight of that weekend but could Lady Gaga be putting on her wellies once more, going one better with the Pyramid Stage and be heading back for another go at Glastonbury this year? Whilst there’s little to suggest she either would or would not be interested in featuring this year, at least in comparison to seven years ago, she would arrive as an artist with much more experience and an extensive back catalogue capable of fulfilling the demands of being a Glastonbury headliner. Likewise having performed alongside fellow Glastonbury headliners at some of the world’s major music festivals in recent years, I do think that you can no longer ask whether the size of the event would be too overwhelming for Gaga. Time and time again when you seem to think that her star may have been ever so slightly fading, either on stage or on a record, Gaga has continuously returned to silence the doubters and could do so once again by stepping up and headlining Glastonbury.

Clearly the final call on whether Gaga would be a perfect fit for the festival rather than a bad romance is solely down to the Glastonbury organisers. For what as a maverick Lady Gaga would bring in both exuberance and unpredictability, she more than musically makes up for such extravagance in talent. I mean whether you choose to think of Lady Gaga more so as the chart-topping, multi-million album selling artist or the celebrity with eye-catching outfits and unconventional behaviour, there is certainly no ignoring her. Gaga advocates that provocative behaviour is much more than simply obtaining people’s attention, instead she claims to always attempt to say ‘something that really affects people in a real way and positive way’.

Following her meteoric rise to fame following the release of The Fame not only has she been a mainstay in popular British music but a worldwide name too. Love her or loathe her, her effect on modern-day music must not however be underestimated, highlighted through Lady Gaga’s dominance in an Earworm Chart studied by Dr Kelly Jakubowski of Durham University. With the definition of earworm in this context a song that is maintained in the listener’s head long after its physical sound has finished, Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance topped the list as the catchiest song on the planet with a further two songs also in a list which also features Queen, Katy Perry and 2016 headliner Adele.

For me, Lady Gaga most certainly has the gravitas one would expect of a Saturday or Sunday night headliner should she take either spot and her ability to transcend a variety of different genres ultimately attracts a different crowd – often appealing to a wider proportion of the Glastonbury crowd more so than an artist who may be incredibly famous within their genre but relatively unknown in contrasting styles of music. Her debut album was a commercial success worldwide as her follow-up EP ‘The Fame Monster’ a year later in 2009. In the UK alone, Gaga’s singles have spent a whopping 242 weeks in the Top 40 of the music charts, 72 weeks in the Top 10 and 10 weeks at Number 1. With 4 different singles reaching Number 1, alongside 3 UK Number 1 albums spending and enormous 264 weeks in the Top 75 album charts, Gaga is undoubtedly one of the biggest acts in the business right now throughout Europe and the world – especially in the UK.

When questioned about a potential Glastonbury spot in 2017, you could say Gaga maintained her poker face, remaining very-tight lipped as she announced to the NME magazine when questioned that she did not have permission to say anything about next year’s festival. Then when asked about future tour dates, Gaga warned that her live shows which earned her the initial notoriety she has been always associated with could soon be back quicker than we may have expected and that her exuberant behaviour has not been cast aside, advising fans terrified she may never again embrace absurdity or the avant-garde to ‘think-again’. Of all the things that Glastonbury can offer, absurdity, unpredictability, the weird, the wacky and the wonderful are in the festival’s DNA and for this reason Lady Gaga could possibly be the perfect fit for next year’s festival.

With regards to the next 12 months, Gaga’s confirmed future projects include starring and creating music for the remake of the musical drama ‘A Star is Born’, as well as a rumoured performance at next Super Bowl’s halftime show (if Wikipedia is anything to go by). Whether she adds Glastonbury to that empty page in her calendar for June 2017 we will soon find out but with odds available at 16/1 according to the NME, it may well be worth putting on a pound or two!

Robbie Williams

Welly watch: w3

Posting on Instagram that he was back at the ‘scene of the crime’, Robbie Williams adopted a much more mature look on his return to Glastonbury Festival this year as he visited the iconic festival to see Adele’s Saturday headline set. In acknowledgement to his vibrancy and much younger years during his time spent at the festival in the 1990’s, Williams was further in the mood for reminiscing and joked that there was both ‘more colour and more fire starting in the 90s’ after uploading an image alongside The Prodigy’s Keith Flint. Now with all this talk of Glastonbury, whether initially sparked by a genuine desire to again perform at the festival or simply just excitement ahead of visiting with wife Ayda Field to watch Adele, the festival has certainly been on the musician’s mind. Therefore if Glastonbury lust for an artist who has a seemingly genuine desire to embrace the Glastonbury spirit and get fully involved in everything the festival has to offer then they need look no further in Robbie Williams. Likewise despite success in the album charts with his new album the Heavy Entertainment show debuting at number 1 on the UK album charts just under 70,000 copies sold, after comeback single ‘Party Like A Russian’ failed to propel Williams back to the top of the charts he will hoping for much better news with a potential headline spot at the top of the bill at Glastonbury 2017.

In recent weeks Robbie Williams has revealed publicly that he would love to grace Glastonbury Festival once again but as an artist and not as a festival goer, specifically alluding to his desire to have his ‘moment on the Pyramid Stage in front of a record-breaking amount of people’. Robbie Williams has in fact appeared at the festival twice before, most notably in 1998 with Williams still carving out as a career as a solo act. For what may have seemed like a risk in taking on a Glastonbury crowd used to a much different type of festival and type of music normally associated with a headline slot, it wasn’t long before he had Glasto-goers eating out of the palm of his hand and 18 years later, one would think that a return to the festival is long overdue.

Clearly a Robbie Williams headline set would be sure to divide opinion and split ticket holders but in terms of chart success and widespread appeal, Robbie Williams’s awards cabinet speaks for itself. Although Williams has stated recently that he had been giving his Brit Awards away including one to Wayne Rooney after the Manchester United forward suffered an injury, offering the award through his manager with a message to tell the English striker to get better with the help of one of his many trophies, with a total of eighteen awards won at the prestigious event including the ones won with Take That, Robbie Williams remains the most successful artist in the events history. As the best-selling British solo artist in the United Kingdom, the best selling non-Latino artist in Latin America as well as six of his albums among the top 100 biggest selling albums in the United Kingdom and a record holder for selling 1.6m tickets for his 2006 Close Encounters Tour in a single day, Williams has been there, done that and wore the most exuberant of t-shirts.

With this in mind If we are to go off achievements earned alone then Williams certainly warrants a headline spot at Glastonbury. I mean, for anybody with a Wikipedia page devoted solely to awards won, the UK Music Hall of Fame member and holder of the Greatest Artist of the 1990s award with a certified 18.9 million albums and 5.88 million singles sold in the UK as a solo artist according to the British Phonographic Industry, Williams would rank highly as one of the most decorated festival headliners should he selected for next year’s event.

So will Rock DJ Robbie Williams be entertaining the Glastonbury crowd in 2017? Currently there is every chance that he may well be at the festival in some proximity given his that a planned UK and Ireland tour for 2017 ends in London on the opening Friday of the festival – notably the only day currently occupied by headliners Radiohead. With a free weekend expect Williams to be at Glastonbury but it will be up to Glastonbury organisers if that is as a headliner or simply a ticket-holder and whilst all signs currently point away from a potential headline spot, certainly do not rule Williams out yet!

 

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