Watch Kanye West Cover Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
Before Kanye West took the stage Saturday night for his Glastonbury headlining slot, the rapper spent weeks weathering news stories about how nearly 150,000 people signed a petition demanding festival organizers to “cancel Kanye West’s headline slot and get a rock band.” For a few minutes at least, West satisfied that request during his not-canceled set, performing a brief rendition of Queen‘s “Bohemian Rhapsody” that turned into a festival-wide sing-along.
After having his DJ play the intro of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the rapper took the reins for the Queen track’s ballad section, speak-singing the slightly altered lyrics, “Mama, I just killed a man / Put my gun up to his head / Pulled a trigger, now he’s dead.” West and the audience continued to trade lines until Freddie Mercury’s ballad-closing lyric “Nothing really matters” segued into West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” West’s Queen nod was reminiscent of when Jay Z, another rapper who faced criticism for headlining the iconic British fest, covered Oasis’ “Wonderwall” to mollify the crowd during his Glastonbury set in 2008.
A brief Queen cover wasn’t the only surprise the rapper had planned for Glastonbury. Midway through West’s set, he invited out Bon Iver‘s Justin Vernon to join him on a pair of tracks, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘s “Lost in the World” – an interpolation of Bon Iver’s own “Woods” – as well as Yeezus‘ “Hold My Liquor.” West, who called Vernon “one of the baddest white boys on the planet,” also told the audience how “Lost in the Woods” was inspired by an email he sent to future wife Kim Kardashian, Pitchfork reports.
The rapper’s 30-song setlist was a mix of smash singles, semi-new material and unexpected gems, like a rare performance of Graduation‘s “I Wonder” and West’s first solo performance of his Rihanna and Paul McCartney collaboration “FourFiveSeconds.”
However, West’s triumphant headlining set didn’t go perfectly smooth. Early on, during “Black Skinhead,” a British comedian named Lee Nelson, wearing a “Leezus” shirt, ran onstage with microphone in hand and danced along with the Yeezus track, knocking the rapper out of his groove. West gestured for security to remove the comedian from the stage and then had his DJ restart “Black Skinhead.”
“Some people were saying Kanye shouldn’t headline Glastonbury so I thought I’d give him a hand,” Nelson later tweeted, referencing the petition. The comedian also tweeted, “I Kanye’d Kanye. That was for you @taylorswift13.” Nelson’s intrusion occurs at the minute-mark of the video below: