In 2019, a triumphant Kylie Minogue jolted the collective hangovers of Pilton with a heady blend of pop gold and choreography – 14 years after she had to pull out of her Glastonbury headline slot to undergo treatment for breast cancer. Dolly Parton played the slot back in 2014 for over 180,000 people, and composed a jangly new number about mud for the occasion. Shirley Bassey, Lionel Richie, Neil Diamond, and Barry Gibb have also donned the legends’ slot wellies over the years. And in 2020, it’s the turn of Diana Ross.
Born in Detroit, Diana Ross first shot to fame with Motown group The Supremes, who released some of the best and most bittersweet love songs of all time – to this day, they’re one of the world’s most successful girl groups. After Ross left in 1970 to go solo, she went on to release 24 studio albums – and belted out smash hits like ‘I’m Coming Out’ ‘Chain Reaction’ and ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ in the process.
She’s no stranger to playing ridiculously momentous gigs, either. Back in 1983, when Diana Ross lived right next to Central Park in New York, she decided to stage a free, open-air concert to fund a new playground: when a fierce storm shut down her show after just 45 minutes, she returned the following night to have another crack. An estimated 350,000 people went to see Ross play Central Park that second night, and she stuck to her word – you’ll find the Diana Ross Playground at West 81st Street and Central Park West.
With all of this in mind, what on earth will she have planned for Glastonbury 2020? Here’s hoping she sticks all of these bangers on the setlist…
‘I’m Coming Out’
Picture the packed slopes in front of the Pyramid Stage exploding to the unmistakable drum clatters and horn parps of ‘I’m Coming Out’s intro. Imagine the heady build-up as a fleet of Diana Ross drag queens (who reportedly inspired the lyrics in the first place) file glamorously onto the stage, as Pride flags flutter up above. And then, Diana Ross herself striding out onto the Pyramid, to bask in an actual trombone solo, and around five of the greatest minutes in disco history. Festival perfection.
‘It’s My House’
Composed by the songwriting power-duo Ashford & Simpson (who also wrote smash hit ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’) ‘It’s My House’ surprisingly wasn’t a huge chart hit back in 1979. Instead, the single from Ross’ record ‘The Boss’ became a disco club favourite – think big band spectacular, with flutes that flutter playfully alongside some hefty, hefty brass. “There’s a welcome mat at the door,” goes the strutting first verse. “And if you come on in, you’re gonna get much more.” Glastonbury punters, the show is well and truly underway.
‘Doobedood’ndoobe, Doobedood’ndoobe, Doobedood’ndoo’
Time to veer into slightly more underrated territory, with a song that rivals ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ in name alone. Taken from 1972’s ‘Everything Is Everything’, ‘Doobedood’ndoobe, Doobedood’ndoobe, Doobedood’ndoo’ might be a right mouthful on paper, but it also lends itself rather nicely to a spot of audience participation. Once Diana gets the whole field belting this one out together, it’ll trigger a whole *ahem* chain reaction. Sorry.
The Supremes’ MEGA-MEDLEY
Look, the fact of the matter is this: The Supremes have incredible, heartbreaking Motown bangers coming out of their ears. It would be possible (and to be honest, it’d also be very easy) to fill an entire set with Ross’ Supremes material alone. Sadly, the legends’ slot only lasts for so long, and so this is where the gift of a sensational medley must come into play.
Kicking off with the echoey foot-stamps of ‘Where Did Our Love Go’, and following things up with the triple threat of ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’, ‘Baby Love’ and ‘Come See About Me’ Diana Ross will be truly unstoppable at this point.
The only way things could go south is if Chris Martin decides to get involved in the legends slot once again. As long as there isn’t an altercation in which the Coldplay frontman forces entry to the stage and tries to sing backing vocals, all will be well. Perhaps Diana can dedicate the closing moment of the medley to Chris’ persistent habit for appearing as a surprise guest – ‘Stop! In The Name of Love’.
‘Take Me Higher’
A bit like a gripping mystery thriller, every ultimate setlist needs a twist – a pivotal moment where the mood suddenly flips on its head. And Ross’ 1995 single ‘Take Me Higher’ – complete with some very extra choreography, the dramatic unveiling of yet another costume, an extended diva breakdown, and an entourage of scantily-clad men carrying the singer around the stage in a throne – is surely the perfect time to shake things up.
Forget about the obligatory Sunday afternoon hangovers – it’s time for a ‘Love Hangover’ instead. Slinking, sexy, and playful, this one should fire up the disco segment very nicely indeed.
Diana Ross’ 1979 record arguably paved the way for its disco-minded successor ‘Diana’ – along with the singer’s later work with Chic members Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. The title track shows ‘The Boss’ at her very best.
Picking up where ‘The Boss’ left off, it’s another Nile/Bernard collaboration. One of Diana Ross’ biggest hits, ‘Upside Down’ sparkles with synthetic strut. Plus, this song is a fitting description of trying to track down Glastonbury’s infamous Piano Bar without a map or sense of direction, after 17 pints of scrumpy.
For Pete’s sake, Diana, now you’re just showing off. Written by the Bee Gees (whose Barry Gibb is a legends’ slot alum), ‘Chain Reaction’ marks the unofficial start of the set’s shift into sheer legend nirvana – aka the part where everyone starts to silently question how a single person can be responsible for so many huge songs. Flung out there with the casual glee of a woman with eighteen number one singles under her belt, this song also marks a golden opportunity for Diana Ross to pay homage to British culture by inviting Steps onstage to perform their own 2001 cover.
‘My Old Piano’
No, Chris Martin, you’re not allowed to play piano on this one. Still an absolute hit, though.
‘I’m Still Waiting’
As Diana Ross impatiently shoos H from Steps away into the wings, a new section of the show – known only as Belting Ballad Bangers – begins, along with a final outfit switch. Bringing things down a notch, and getting the whole of Worthy Farm swaying arm in arm, what better place to slot a huge song like ‘I’m Still Waiting’ into the mix than here?
As the set hits its final blaze of glory, the exquisite ‘Remember Me’ should do the trick with its hearty trumpet parps, and a sudden eruption into gospel-leaning fireworks. “Remember me as a sunny day,” Ross urges on her 1970 hit “that you once had, along the way.” The song – penned by Ashford & Simpson – is actually addressed to an ex-boyfriend, but at the legend’s slot, it might well take on a slightly different meaning.
A legends’ slot isn’t complete without a couple of surprise guests, and frankly, ‘Endless Love’ just serves as an ideal excuse to invite Sunday afternoon alumni Lionel Richie along to the party. After a brief comedy sketch in which Lionel appears at the side of the stage and asks “hello, is it me you’re looking for” the pair perform one of the greatest pop duets of all time (commiserations, Katie Price and Peter Andre) as the entire festival sobs.
‘I Will Survive’
Gloria Gaynor’s performance of ‘I Will Survive’ might be the best known version, but Diana Ross takes things straight to Studio 54 with her own 1995 cover. Three words: SECURITY GUARD FLASHMOB.
‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’
Because honestly, how else could Diana Ross possibly wrap things up?