Stormzy proves Glastonbury is not just a greatest hits parade | Rebecca Nicholson

Don’t knock the grime star – he’s the perfect headliner for Friday night

A question appeared on one of my WhatsApp groups last week, and it stood out because it wasn’t, “Can you buy bread?” “Stormzy, Glastonbury – thoughts?” I drifted over to Glastonbury’s Instagram, and saw the picture of the poster that appeared in an Oxfam window to break the news that Stormzy would head up the Friday night.

As when Jay-Z and Kanye West were announced as performers, there are a few excited comments, but most ran broadly along these lines: “I’m glad I don’t have tickets”; “I’m sad I do have tickets”; “Are [insert pure pop act here] headlining on Saturday lol.”

It’s plainly ridiculous to argue that one act who may not be to your tastes is going to put a downer on the entire thing. The festival is over twice the size, population-wise, as the town I grew up in. There are at least 100 places where you can see music. In 2011, I didn’t fancy watching Coldplay headline the Pyramid stage, so instead I wandered off and caught Janelle Monáe and Big Boi doing two of the finest sets I’ve ever seen there.

The sheer choice is so overwhelming that you could stand next to a (probably vegan) kebab van and end up having one of the best nights of your life. That said, this is about Stormzy, and Stormzy is the perfect choice for Friday-night headliner. He’s not carrying the whole festival, just one night; there are two others. The first year that I went, one of those headliners was Travis. I checked the poster, just to be sure, and there they were, billed above David Bowie.

Stormzy: Theresa May is a ‘paigon’ – video

Stormzy’s performance at the Brits in February, where he won best album and best male solo artist, was the first time that a performance at the Brits had been memorable in years. Soaked in rain, backed by a gospel choir in balaclavas, calling out Theresa May over Grenfell, then going into a raucous Big for Your Boots – anyone doubting that he can put on a spectacle only needs to watch that performance.

Yes, he’s only done one album, but I am infinitely more excited to see what he is going to do with a slot as monumental as this than I was at the prospect of seeing Kasabian trudge through the hits.

To me, freshness feels far more in the spirit of Glastonbury, at least as I know it. Heritage acts are always a moment – Dolly Parton playing a bejewelled saxophone will remain burned into my brain forever – but in an industry slowly throttling itself with nostalgia, thank God for new blood coming through.

Prince Charles’s groussaka is a stroke of genius

The Prince Of Wales: a pioneer of culinary inventions.
The Prince Of Wales: a pioneer of culinary inventions. Photograph: Tim P Whitby/Getty Images

If we must have a royal family, then it’s worth enjoying the upsides, one of which is discovering their spectacular range of eccentricities. Princess Margaret was such a card that she’s had whole books written about them, and she ran away with The Crown, but only the TV show, though you suspect she might have had more of a laugh with the ceremonial stuff.

As Prince Charles turns 70, Buckingham Palace dutifully released 70 facts about him. As always with the royals, it’s the food stuff that’s gold. Like her mother, the Queen is said to like a gin and Dubonnet before lunch. I’ve had a gin and Dubonnet and, to employ royal parlance, it knocks one’s block off, as drinks where the mixer is also alcoholic are prone to do.

While his mother prefers Earl Grey with no milk, Charles likes dDarjeeling, with milk and honey. But he saved the best for Country Life, telling it that he was a pioneer of culinary inventions, such as “moussaka with grouse. It doesn’t always have to be lamb – in other words, groussaka!”

Finally, this feels like the right time to float my own foray into the world of fusion cooking: toast pie. You’re welcome.

Lili Reinhart: joining the campaign for real bodies

Lili Reinhart addressed Hollywood’s body image obsession.
Lili Reinhart addressed Hollywood’s body image obsession. Photograph: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Glamour

In a week when Lee Child revealed that Tom Cruise was too short to continue to play action hero Jack Reacher, another actor was talking about the pressures of physical conformity.

Lili Reinhart, who stars in the teen series Riverdale, gave a speech at Glamour’s women of the year summit. “I didn’t think anything was wrong with my body until I was in an industry that rewards and praises people for having a smaller waist than I will ever have,” she said.

It’s not news that the entertainment business insists on thinness. But whenever someone explains, candidly, what that entails for the people who are expected to look like that, it feels like the first small steps towards demanding that the standard be changed.

Among the many excellent stories in Busy Philipps’ memoir, This Will Only Hurt a Little, she details losing a role she was all but certain to get, because the TV network decided she was too big, and could not lose the required weight quickly enough. She had recently given birth.

The underwear brand Victoria’s Secret has had a rough couple of weeks, after its parent company’s chief marketing officer, Ed Razek, implied in a Vogue interview that trans and plus-sized models would not be considered for its catwalk show. (He later apologised to trans models.) Last week, Jan Singer, CEO of Victoria’s Secret lingerie division, resigned, reportedly over slow sales. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these tiny ripples suggest, at the very least, that what consumers and viewers really want is variety?

In her speech, Reinhart said that there was no quick fix, no easy answer, but she suggested a start: “Showing what’s real, with no filter and no shame.”

• Rebecca Nicholson is an Observer columnist


Rebecca Nicholson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
All hail Stormzy for historic Glastonbury performance
Musicians, politicians and fans praise first headline show by black solo British artist

Amy Walker

29, Jun, 2019 @11:37 AM

Article image
Ellen DeGeneres: should we judge her by the company she keeps? | Rebecca Nicholson
Mixing with George W Bush doesn’t exactly enhance her liberal credentials

Rebecca Nicholson

12, Oct, 2019 @2:43 PM

Article image
Stormzy announced as first headliner of Glastonbury 2019
Grime MC will headline Friday night in his most prestigious live show yet

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

15, Nov, 2018 @4:27 PM

Article image
Glastonbury 2019: Killers and the Cure announced as final headliners
US rockers and goth indie heroes take main-stage honours alongside Stormzy, while Janet Jackson confirms first UK show in years

Laura Snapes

15, Mar, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
Stormzy at Glastonbury 2019 review – a glorious victory lap for black British culture
Not only is this headline performance a show of supreme talent, it also underlines how much Stormzy’s talent and charisma has pushed forward UK rap

Alexis Petridis

28, Jun, 2019 @11:32 PM

Article image
Glastonbury 2019 verdict: Stormzy, the Killers, Lizzo, Slowthai and more
Stormzy delivered an culture-defining performance, the Killers asserted themselves as rock’n’roll heroes – and there was still space for flutes, country and Kylie

Alexis Petridis

01, Jul, 2019 @7:00 AM

Article image
Heat Waves proves patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to megahits | Rebecca Nicholson
The Glass Animals hit took the slowest journey to the top spot ever recorded

Rebecca Nicholson

12, Mar, 2022 @3:00 PM

Article image
Stormzy review – shock and awe
Leeds First Direct Arena
A superstar-size stage show very nearly distracts from the colossal charisma of the south London rapper

Kitty Empire

19, Mar, 2022 @2:00 PM

Article image
Glastonbury isn’t just a fleeting experience – it’s a mirror of society | Miranda Sawyer
Fabulous drag queens, water fountains, dirty burgers... Glastonbury adopts the trends and sells them to the world

Miranda Sawyer

29, Jun, 2019 @4:00 PM

Article image
Jean Paul Gaultier, challenging those who churn out fast fashion | Rebecca Nicholson
Instead of urging people to buy fewer, dearer clothes, he highlighted the industry’s role in creating waste

Rebecca Nicholson

06, Jul, 2019 @1:59 PM