As the Supreme Court of the United States on Friday announced its 6-3 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, several of the biggest names in popular music were overseas preparing to perform at the U.K.’s massive Glastonbury Festival.
For nearly 50 years, Roe v. Wade had protected a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion. Roe also served as the precedent upon which many consequential rulings have subsequently been based. In a concurring opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that overturned Roe v. Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the Court should now reconsider other past cases based on Roe granting rights like contraception, same-sex marriage, and more, placing those liberties at risk, as well.
A woman’s right to choose became a common thematic thread onstage throughout the weekend at Glastonbury as various performers used the prominent platform to denounce the Court’s decision to nullify the landmark ruling.
On Friday night, before performing a moving rendition of “Your Power” during her headlining set on the Pyramid Stage, Billie Eillish explained, “The song we’re about to do is, I think, one of the favorites that we’ve written and it’s about the concept of power and how we need to always remember how not to abuse it. And today is a really, really dark day for women in the U.S. I’m just going to say that as I cannot bear to think about it any longer in this moment.”
Billie Eilish Talks Roe v. Wade Decision – Glastonbury Festival – 6/24/22
[Video: Billie Eilish Clips]
Phoebe Bridgers was also hurting over the decision when she took the stage at Glastonbury. “I’m having like the shittiest day. Are there any Americans here?” Bridgers asked before the crowd started to chant, “F— the Supreme Court” in unison. “F— that shit. F— America. Like, f— you,” she said. “All these irrelevant old motherf—s trying to tell us what to do with our f—ing bodies.”
“All these irrelevant old motherfuckers trying to tell us what to do with our fucking bodies”. @phoebe_bridgers calls out the US Supreme Court on stage at Glastonbury. She had an abortion last year. What a moment. pic.twitter.com/cKBNZdhhNr
— Dino Sofos (@dinosofos) June 24, 2022
On Saturday, teen pop-punk sensation Olivia Rodrigo did not mince words as she condemned the SCOTUS decision. She elicited howls of approval from the Glastonbury audience on the Other Stage when she welcomed out English singer-songwriter Lily Allen for a performance of her 2009 protest hit, “F— You”.
While Rodrigo gushed about having the opportunity to perform with Allen at her first Glastonbury, she explained, “I’m also equally as heartbroken over what happened in America yesterday. The Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade, which is a law that ensures a woman’s right to a safe abortion and other basic human rights. And I’m devastated and terrified. So many women and so many girls are going to die because of this. I wanted to dedicate this next song to the five members of the Supreme Court who’ve showed us that at the end of the day, they truly don’t really give a s— about freedom.”
With loathing bubbling up from underneath her bubblegum inflection, she continued. “This song goes out to the Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, and Brett Kavanaugh! We hate you.”
Olivia Rodrigo ft. Lily Allen – “F— You” (Lily Allen, Greg Kurstin) [Pro-Shot] – Glastonbury Festival – 6/25/22
[Video: BBC Music]
Megan Thee Stallion also took a moment during her set to speak about the decision and its local implications, particularly for her home state of Texas, which banned abortions in 2021. “Now, y’all know it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t take a second to call out these stupid ass men,” Megan told the cowd. “I mean, God damn. What else you want? Texas really embarrassing me right now, y’all know that’s my home state….And I want to have it on the record that the motherf—ing hot girls and the hot boys do not support this bull— that y’all campaigning for.” She proceeded to lead the audience in a chant of “my body, my motherf—ing choice.” Texas’s ban of abortions after six weeks—earlier than many women even know they are pregnant—was temporarily blocked by a Texas judge a few days later in the wake of Roe v. Wade‘s repeal.
On Sunday, rapper Kendrick Lamar closed down the Pyramid Stage with a powerful performance pulling heavily from his latest album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, a sprawling statement examining everything from religious faith to childhood abuse to reconciling survivor’s guilt to balancing public perceptions of greatness with personal shortcomings. Among the album’s various themes is reconciling external labels and judgements with internal flaws.
To close out his set, Lamar—who donned the same diamond-encrusted crown of thorns he’s pictured wearing on the Mr. Morale album cover—performed the emotional “Savior”. Though the track largely approaches the theme of “choice” from other complex angles (“Seen a Christian say the vaccine mark of the beast / Then he caught COVID and prayed to Pfizer for relief / Then I caught COVID and started to question Kyrie / Will I stay organic or hurt in this bed for two weeks?”), Kendrick added a new refrain to the song that appeared to bemoan the Court’s rollback of human rights directly.
“They judge you, they judge Christ, Godspeed for women’s rights,” an impassioned Lamar seethed as faux blood dripped from his crown into his eyes. He repeated the cry again and again before eventually throwing his microphone to the ground and exiting the stage to close the striking performance.
Kendrick Lamar – “Savior” – Glastonbury Festival – 6/26/22
[Video: BBC Music]
Of course, the dissent among the music community was not limited to the Glastonbury Festival grounds. Other notable artists who have voiced opposition to the Court’s ruling include Taylor Swift, Lorde, Halsey, Jazmine Sullivan, and many more.