This was a distressing situation.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the Festival over the years, even in 2017 when I was accompanied by a child who was much keener on Milkshake Live Party Party than checking out some indie band I'd read about in Melody Maker (kids, ask your parents).
Guessing the headliners has become one of my favourite annual traditions, up there with singing Auld Lang Syne, tossing pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and forgetting my brother's birthday.
I've had mixed success with my predictions in previous years but I've got a new theory which will almost certainly succeed.
There are certain artists which have appeared several times at the Isle of Wight Festival. Starsailor have been there so often that they are rumoured to permanently live in the Premier Inn at Seaclose Park as it's a convenient commute. Suzanne Vega has also appeared regularly, as has Iggy Pop. By my count, they've appeared 13 times between them.
After about 7 seconds of Googling you'll discover that they are all managed by Solo, of which John Giddings is Managing Director. I'm not sure if they have always been managed by Solo, but they are now.
If you then take a look at the roster of other Solo Music Agency artists you'll see that nearly all of them have appeared at the Isle of Wight Festival at some point from our fanboy lineup history page.
Here's a nearly complete list:
- Alison Moyet (played at Isle of Wight Festival 2017)
- Bananarama (2009)
- Bang Bang Romeo (2018)
- Blondie (2010 and 2013)
- Gutterdammerung (2016)
- Iggy Pop (2003, 2008, 2011 and 2016)
- Imelda May (2017)
- James (2008, 2010, 2015)
- Mike + The Mechanics (2016)
- Pharrell Williams (2015)
- Starsailor (2002, 2003, 2008, 2014, 2017)
- Spandau Ballet (2010)
- Suzanne Vega (2004, 2006, 2012, 2015)
- Sting (2008 with The Police)
- The Corrs (2016). Sharon Corr has also appeared as a solo artist in 2009 and 2015.
- The High Kings (2016)
- Paradisia (2018)
This makes a lot of sense.
If Pharrell Williams' contact number is on your Filofax or fruit-based device then you're going to ask him to play at your festival.
Another cat amongst the pigeons is that big-player Live Nation is now a majority owner in Solo. I must admit I don't know if that increases the chance of a Live Nation artist appearing but it is presumably a foot in the door. Live Nation acts include Beyonce, Barbara Streisand, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Shakira and U2.
So, when it comes to predicting the Isle of Wight Festival lineup for 2019 we can conclude that:
- Some of these Solo agency artists may well appear again. My money is on James, Spandau Ballet, Blondie or Sting as they haven't played very recently.
- Some artists on the Solo roster may make their first appearance. Other artists on their books include Phil Collins, Mariah Carey, Little Mix, Boyzone, Alex Francis, Asylums, Steve Hackett and The Lounge Kittens. I personally think Phil Collins is a possibility and perhaps even Little Mix along with a couple of the smaller acts as there is a pattern of giving them a chance at the Isle of Wight Festival. I can't see Mariah Carey catching the Hovercraft.
- Some Live Nation artists might, possibly, play at the Isle of Wight Festival 2019. I really can't see Barbara Streisand turning up, but the rest seem like a vague possibility. My hunch is that Justin Timberlake is more likely than U2, as they very rarely play festivals. Beyonce has been to the festival before, when Jay-Z headlined, so she does at least know how to get there. Shakira, Madonna or Lady Gaga? Honestly, I doubt it, but who knows...
- We can also add in various artists which John Giddings has previously said he'd like to book. Over the years, he's mentioned Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Muse, Oasis, Green Day and The Kinks, Rihanna and Ed Sheeran
- There's also the fact that it will be 50 years since Bob Dylan headlined the Isle of Wight Festival (in 1969). Will he turn up again? My hunch is probably not, but we've seen some bands from that era reappear at recent festivals (The Pretty Things, for example in 2018).
I'll admit that leaves us with a pretty hefty list, but I'll be surprised if we haven't at least picked out one of the headliners for 2019.
But then again, I thought we'd vote to stay in the EU and that Gareth Gates would win Pop Idol in 2002.
If you're interested in Isle of Wight Festival 2019, tickets are on sale already.
*Guaranteed to be wrong, obviously