Kanye West divides opinion. From the moment that Glastonbury Festival curator Emily Eavis announced that West would headline the famous pyramid stage at this year’s festival, controversy raged. West’s detractors lamented the fact that the controversial rapper was appearing at the festival. Others, including Eavis, hailed the booking of Kanye as a coup for the festival. Eavis later confirmed that she had even received death threats after announcing West as the Saturday headliner.
West arrived at Glastonbury on Saturday with a huge retinue of “hangers-on” and a large security team. Reporters in the press pit in front of the pyramid stage were asked to leave, as Kanye wanted a “closed set” and no photography. The press pit was then filled with West’s retinue, which included racing driver Lewis Hamilton and Kim Kardashian-West.
Despite the incredibly tight security, West would have you believe that his set was “crashed” by British comedian Lee Nelson. Security is extremely tight at Glastonbury, and no one gets anywhere they are not supposed to be. Glastonbury security and West’s personal security team would simply not have allowed an interloper onto the stage. Even those with the proper accreditation could not get anywhere they were not supposed to be. Lee Nelson’s appearance was a stunt, no doubt dreamed up by Kanye’s publicity machine to keep the press discussing Kanye West.
West courted further controversy on stage by declaring himself “the greatest rock star on the planet,” a claim later ridiculed by Roger Daltry of The Who and many music fans.
West courted further controversy by attempting a cover version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a cover so bad that the Mirror claimed that they “could barely hear it due to the sound of Freddie Mercury spinning in his grave.”
Despite some obvious bloopers, West certainly got music fans talking, whether they were at the festival or watching on television. Many people, including respected music journalist John Robb, argue that this is a good thing. There is no doubt that music at present is dominated by safe, boring, bland pop music. Robb argues that it takes someone like Kanye West to shake the industry out of its slumber.
The Guardian claimed that West’s performance was faltering, without auto-tuning, West’s voice isn’t great, but offered “flickers of greatness,” that was a view shared by many who witnessed West’s performance.
West may have an ego the size of a planet, but so did the Gallagher brothers when they claimed that Oasis were better than the Beatles. West may not be to everyone’s taste, but the publicity his Glastonbury appearance has generated can only be a good thing. Love him or hate him, Kanye West’s publicity machine has done its job. Everyone is talking about music in general, and West in particular. It may be that Kanye’s Glastonbury appearance creates a legacy that does the music industry a huge favor.
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