Over the past few decades the Oxford Union has welcomed many musical icons through its famous double-doors. In 2001 Michael Jackson gave his first public speech in over a decade, launching the charity Heal the Children and talking openly about his unhappy relationship with his father. Since then famous names have included sinister Swedish telepaths, Hanson, one of the Jonas brothers, and the Harlem-based rapper A$AP Rocky, who arrived to much controversy during the chaotic days of Zuleyxit (These jokes will be funny for the next eight weeks, won’t they?). With so much pressure to measure up to the heavyweights of years gone by, how does this term’s lineup compare?
As the first act on the bill the venerable debating society will host Example on Tuesday of 1st Week (11th October). Born in Hammersmith, the singer-songwriter, whose distinctive sound is described by Wikipedia as Electro Hop and by my mum as ‘talk-singing’, has enjoyed considerable chart success throughout his career, including a string of top ten singles between 2010 and 2012. More recently, however, Elliot Gleave has mentioned that he intends to focus greater attention on his filmmaking career.
Michaelmas’ second musical invitation, however, has shown no such signs of slowing down his output. Grime veteran Wiley announced earlier this year that he was set to release his eleventh studio album, The Godfather. In the mouth of almost anyone else that title might sound like arrogance. But, for a rapper who has helped to define and then expand a genre, it is nothing more than due recognition. When he walks into the wood-panelled chamber on Monday of 3rd Week (24th October) to an audience of ties and tails, the question will be which of his entourage he brings with him. Fans will hope that the longtime member of Boy Better Know and founder of Roll Deep brings one of his many collaborators alongside him. Perhaps the hallowed benches could provide the ideal arena for Wiley and Dizzee to finally settle their rumoured grievances.
As yet the only musician scheduled to give a performance in Michaelmas, the third guest of the term possesses a falsetto capable of moving even the most jaded of hacks. At only 24 years of age, singer-songwriter Jack Garratt, winner of the BBC Sound of 2016 award, has achieved the kind of commercial success that should make him comfortable performing to a room full of overachievers on Wednesday of 4th week (November 2nd)
Perhaps the hallowed benches could provide the ideal arena for Wiley and Dizzee to finally settle their rumoured grievances.
The date and time of the final name in the recently released Michaelmas termcard has yet to be released. It would be interesting to listen to rapper Wiz Khalifa reflect on his rapid rise to fame ahead of the release of his latest album Rolling Papers 2 and many will be hoping to hear the next chapter of his feud with Kanye West. The cynic, however, will steel himself against the fact that we could just as likely find ourselves watching Buzz Aldrin play his favourite accordion jams as see the Pittsburgh-based rapper who is still to be confirmed.