Billie Eilish to become youngest solo Glastonbury headliner
Billie Eilish will be the youngest solo artist ever to headline Glastonbury festival when she tops the bill on Friday night next year.
The 19-year-old pop icon teased the news on her Instagram, posting a photograph of herself grinning in a Glastonbury hoodie, captioned “2022”.
The festival co-organiser Emily Eavis said she “couldn’t be happier” to confirm the news: “This feels like the perfect way for us to return and I cannot wait!”
Eilish made her Glastonbury debut in 2019, performing to a jam-packed Other stage on the Sunday afternoon after her set was upgraded from a slot on the John Peel stage. During her set, she lamented that she would never be able to experience the festival as a punter: “This looks fun to go to – I would love to go to this shit, my God.”
Earlier this year she released her second album, Happier Than Ever, to widespread acclaim. Eilish’s lyrics commented on the difficulties of her extreme fame, including maintaining personal and romantic relationships and trusting others, and frequently explored a softer, more classic sound indebted to Peggy Lee and Frank Sinatra than her frequently abrasive debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, released in 2019.
Eilish will be 20 years and six months old when she headlines the festival. The youngest performer ever to headline Glastonbury was Mark Hamilton of UK band Ash, who was approximately 20 years and three months old when the group replaced Steve Winwood as headliner in 1997. Ash frontman Tim Wheeler was 20 years and five months.
Eilish is the first headliner to be announced for the 2022 festival – which Glastonbury organisers are counting on being a successful comeback after Covid led to the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 events. Equinox, a mooted one-day event for September 2020, was also pulled. Instead, the festival ran a family campsite on Worthy Farm.
In August, festival founder Michael Eavis said he was confident that some acts from the planned 2020 lineup would return. Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney and Kendrick Lamar were due to headline.
The festival remains sold out, with 2020 tickets rolled over to the next viable event. The organisers recently put on sale slots for campervans and pre-erected tents, auguring a hopeful outcome for next year.
After the government’s test event scheme permitted festivals including Latitude and Download to go ahead earlier this summer, large-scale music events were allowed to resume – assuming they could afford the risk of proceeding without a government-backed insurance scheme.
Such a scheme was finally implemented in August, pronounced by many in the live music sector to be “too late”. The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) had estimated that a quarter of festivals with a capacity of more than 5,000 people had already been cancelled because of government inaction on event insurance.
More than 5,000 Covid cases were linked to Boardmasters, a music and extreme sports festival taking place in Newquay; there were no such reports of a surge following the Reading and Leeds festivals in August.
Eilish also made headlines this weekend for a performance in Texas, at which she protested the state’s near-total abortion laws, which bans terminations at six weeks once embryonic cardiac activity is detected.
“I’m sick and tired of old men,” Eilish told the crowd at Austin City Limits on 2 October. “Shut the fuck up about our bodies.
“When they made that shit a law, I almost didn’t want to do the show, because I wanted to punish this fucking place for allowing that to happen here. But then, I remembered that it’s you guys that are the fucking victims, and you deserve everything in the world.”
She raised her middle finger and declared: “My body, my fucking choice.”
The Biden administration is legally challenging the bill.