Elton John’s retirement tour is wrapping up soon. He just completed ten shows at the O2 in London and headlined at Glastonbury this weekend which marked his final performance in the UK.
Ahead of the show there was all kinds of speculation about who’d join him on stage – yesterday Britney Spears was trending because some fans thought she might be the ultimate surprise guest. In the end there was no Britney but that doesn’t mean there were no guest stars. Stephen Sanchez, Jacob Lusk, and Brandon Flowers all made appearances. And also… my goddess… Rina Sawayama.
Rina and Elton have been friends and creative collaborators for a few years now. It was Elton who reached out to Rina first because he was so impressed by her music, by her energy, by her artistic expression. If you haven’t already, they did a joint interview with the NY Times back in 2021 to promote her song “Chosen Family”. After they became close, Rina asked Elton if he would feature on it. I LOVE this track – and it was one of my submissions for The Social’s Pride playlist this year, which you can listen to here.
Elton and Rina have a lot in common – they’re both theatrical musicians, extra AF, and they love the big dramatic ballad flourish. As Rina says, where younger artists, those in her age range, try to avoid the cheese, she’s all about cheesy, she can’t get enough of corny, cheesy music. Which is why she and Elton vibe so well, and it’s an obvious sign of what she means to him for him to have had her on his stage for his first and only Glastonbury show.
Rina, however, is making headlines because of what she said on her own stage, on Saturday, at the festival. Just before performing her song “STFU”, Rina called out Matty Healy:
“I wrote this next song because I was sick and tired of these microaggressions. So tonight, this goes out to a white man that watches ‘Ghetto Gaggers’ and mocks Asian people on a podcast. He also owns my masters. I’ve had enough!”
She didn’t name him but it’s not hard to figure out who this is about, given the controversy of the last few months, amplified by the fact that Matty was dating Taylor Swift for a few minutes. Rina and Matty are labelmates with Dirty Hit and Matty was appointed to the board in 2018 but was removed from that position in April when those podcast comments about Black women and Asian people were made widely known. Rina seems to be suggesting that even though he no longer has a board seat, he still financially benefits from the label – or at least he did at some point.
Matty hasn’t really thoughtfully addressed these issues. There was a halfhearted apology on stage and then his interview with The New Yorker but in his response there was not so much engaging with the discussion than brushing it off all like, the internet gets mad, whatever, I know what I did and didn’t mean. A fellow artist isn’t the internet or Twitter though. This is Rina Sawayama at Glastonbury putting him on blast. How will he respond?