Shania Twain, Dua Lipa and SZA at Glastonbury 2024 one-ups the stale male rock of last year

Far from a ‘housewives’ favourite’, as one critic claimed, the queen of country-pop Shania Twain should have played years ago, writes Roisin O’Connor, while Dua Lipa and SZA have proven themselves more than capable of putting on a spectacle worthy of the Pyramid Stage

Thursday 14 March 2024 12:25 GMT
That impresses me much: Shania Twain will play the Legends slot this year at Glastonbury
That impresses me much: Shania Twain will play the Legends slot this year at Glastonbury (Getty Images for Live Nation)

The cat’s out of the bag – but didn’t it take its sweet time? After several months of rumours, the Glastonbury Festival team have finally unveiled their 2024 headliners: Dua Lipa, Coldplay and SZA, with country-pop queen Shania Twain filling the Legends slot. The reactions have been… mixed.

Music fans who’ve been keeping their ears to the ground will have heard plenty about the behind-the-scenes kerfuffle in getting this year’s lineup together. Co-organiser Emily Eavis was within a whisker of getting her dream artist, Madonna, on board, only to have the “Vogue” singer pull out due to budgetary issues for her extravagant Celebration tour set-up. (I also heard some rumblings about Madonna requesting an entire hotel floor be booked for a full seven days before the festival).

Stevie Wonder was in the mix, too, but also backed out; ditto Bruce Springsteen, another hot favourite after he cameoed with Paul McCartney in 2022. Everyone wanted Taylor Swift, but it turns out she’s booked solid on her record-breaking Eras tour. Rihanna? No chance.

So here we are. If you’re a rock fan who loved last year’s Pyramid Stage-toppers – Arctic Monkeys, Guns N’ Roses, Elton John – chances are you’ll be significantly less thrilled by this year’s pop-friendly stars. Despite the naysayers, Eavis should actually be applauded for pulling together four acts of this calibre.

Dua Lipa will deliver a terrific Glastonbury headline set (Getty Images for Permanent Press)

I challenge anyone to resist screaming along to Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” while surrounded by fans dressed in leopard print, Stetsons and sequins. Meanwhile, Dua Lipa proved her performance chops with a sizzling rendition of “Training Season” at the Brits earlier this month. I just hope she brings along her chandelier of men – her “mandelier” if you will.

SZA seems to be the act causing the most consternation, something I find bizarre considering the four-time Grammy winner recently performed four sold-out nights at the O2 Arena in London. It’s less surprising, though, when you consider the Glastonbury audience demographic is overwhelmingly white – consider the backlash to Jay-Z, one of the biggest artists of the day when he headlined in 2008, or to grime star Stormzy in 2019. Both of them brought the house down.

Stormzy performs Shut Up at Glastonbury

One critic who described Twain as a “housewives’ favourite” would do well to remember that she’s sold more records than Guns N’ Roses, Rod Stewart and Bon Jovi. Her early country crossover albums were produced by the same man who steered the stadium-filling rock of AC/DC and Def Leppard. Come On Over remains one of the biggest-selling records of all time – and in an industry where ageism towards women is still rife, Twain continues to top the album charts with ease. In fact, it’s outrageous she hasn’t headlined until now.

If the rumours are to be believed, music fans should be more concerned about just how much hustling Eavis and co had to do to secure this year’s acts. After criticism over the all-male lineup last year, Eavis spoke of a “pipeline” problem, pointing to an industry failing to champion women in music, therefore creating a shortage of younger acts who can pull off the spectacle required of a Pyramid Stage show. Scan the rest of the lineup, too, and there is a tang of desperation in the booking of bands like Two Door Cinema Club, Bombay Bicycle Club, Bloc Party, The Streets and Keane. It’s all very 2010s, isn’t it?

Headlining Glastonbury is supposed to be the jewel in the crown of any artist, something Twain acknowledged as she shared the news of her Legends slot. But if the industry doesn’t do more to push artists from a grassroots level up, the world’s biggest festival is going to look dangerously like an afterthought.

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