Here it is almost two weeks later, and we're still talking about Free Press Summer Fest inviting controversial Chicago R&B star R. Kelly as one of this year's headliners. Until he is either stricken from the bill or takes the stage at Eleanor Tinsley Park June 6 or 7, the old PR saying "any press is good press" will continue to be in effect as Houstonians weigh in with as many opinions as there are colors in a rainbow.
But lest you think this is all a bunch of hype, have a look at the petition started by Girls Rock Camp Houston entitled "Cancel R. Kelly at FPSF 2015," which Tuesday afternoon was a little more than 100 signatures short of its goal of 800. We know we wrote about this very topic yesterday, and last week, but hey, it's a great story, and it's obviously not going away anytime soon. Today we wanted to open the floor and allow our music writers to offer their thoughts.
ARCADE FIRE Because it's been a while since a rock band closed out the festival, I think that replacing R. Kelly with someone like Arcade Fire would be perfect. Not only do they not have controversy surrounding them, but they have ties to Houston, have won more than 15 awards (two of which were Grammys) and can draw a large crowd of their own without losing appeal to new listeners. Other bands to consider? Modest Mouse or The Strokes. ALYSSA DUPREE
DOESN'T MATTER Big Sean, A$AP Rocky, Big KRIT, Wale, or even another appearance by 2Chainz would be better than an R. Kelly performance. Not only do these artists offer the same hip hop/rhythm and blues appeal as Kelly without the sexually charged allegations; they're also a lot more relevant. Big Sean just released a new album, and the consensus seems to be that it is "fire," so let's try to get him on the bill. MATTHEW KEEVER
DRAKE Its difficult to choose sides on the R. Kelly vs. FPSF issue. One one hand, there is an artist that has done some very despicable shit in his personal life. He also happens to be one of the greatest R&B entertainers of all time. I know that Omar and the rest of the FPSF crew are smart people, so the decision to book R. Kelly probably required plenty of internal debate. Still, it feels like I'm in the minority when I say "Let Kels Perform," mostly because I am able to separate the music from the person. I don't care (enough) about what Kanye says or who he is married to. Knowing Michael Jackson's alleged inappropriate actions with children doesn't force me to boycott his music. And the list of offenders goes on: Barry White, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown. In the end, this is a music festival. You can either go or stay home. Nobody is forcing R. Kelly to pee on you.
That said, if I had my choice of replacements, there are a few. The first option was suggested to me by my amigo Julian Bajsel. He offered the conspiracy theory that the controversy over Drake's (probably) fake/canceled show at Arena Theater was all a stunt. FPress will announce that Drake will headline instead of R. Kelly, ensuring another sold-out festival. I've actually seen Drake at a major festival before, and I he does very well in that setting. My other dream choice is Carlos Santana, who would also attract many of his loyal fans to buy tickets. MARCO TORRES
Also Chosen By: Jack Gorman
HAIM The sisters HAIM may as well have been born to play festivals. Curators of interesting lyrics, catchy melodies, and a lovely melding of instrumentation and production, their brand of music would translate beautifully to the FPSF stage. SELENA DIERINGER
KENDRICK LAMAR I'll go back to what I said originally about the FPSF lineup: its hip-hop lineup is less than inspiring. And this here is a chance to do a part to fix that. Now true, we could dream all day about who we'd like to see, but let's just assume that Drake and Kanye are outside of the FPSF budget and that J. Cole and Big Sean don't want to cut into their touring sales. There is one man, however, one king if you will, that has a new album coming out, has star power and is going to have a ton of buzz.
Yes, bring Kendrick Lamar to Free Press Summer Fest. Not only would they be saying goodbye to a highly questionable performer, but they'd be welcoming in one of the most interesting, and dare I say most important, voices in modern hip-hop. CORY GARCIA
LIL JON If FPSF were to remove R Kelly from the 2015 lineup, it would create a hole that could only be filled by a fellow dirty-bird like Lil Jon. With songs like "Get Low," "Drink," and 2014 radio-dominatrix "Turn Down For What," Lil Jon -- with or without DJ Snake or his Eastside Boyz -- would be sure to get Houston feeling hella hyphy. SELENA DIERINGER
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NICKI MINAJ FPSF's lineup is full of great indie-rock acts and EDM heavy-hitters, and frankly doesn't need any more, especially when it comes to its top-billed names. Apart from St. Vincent and members of Belle & Sebastian and the Decemberists, the first 16 acts on the lineup are all men, which is inexcusable in 2015. An easy solution to both of these problems would be to replace R. Kelly with one of the best currently active rappers, who happens to be playing the X-Games in Austin the same weekend: the one and only Nicki Minaj.
Minaj has more than proved herself as one of the most talented rappers and pop stars of the past five years. Houston is a wonderfully diverse city supportive of many musical genres, but outside of Welcome to Houston and Chance the Rapper, rap is sorely underrepresented in the current lineup. Minaj could bring in thousands of loyal fans and people on the fence about buying tickets. Her most recent album, 2014's The Pinkprint, is an outstanding record, and while she doesn't typically play festivals, getting her set FPSF apart from the many other major summer festivals. DAVID SACKLLAH
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MINISTRY I would love to see Ministry take R. Kelly's FPSF spot. Al Jourgensen is easily as twisted as Kelly -- just in very, very different ways -- and watching him and his crew of musical thugs unleash "Thieves," "N.W.O.," and the rest on a bunch of unsuspecting 22-year-olds would make the crotchety old bastard in me chortle with delight. Now that's the real EDM. CHRIS GRAY
PIXIES Frank Black and company set out to tour for the month of May and already playing five festivals over that time, so they would be primed for one more. The veterans would pull a solid crowd with their expansive catalog and semi-nostalgic feel. JACK GORMAN
ROBERT PLANT After seeing the Bonnaroo and Mountain Jam lineups released, I was counting on Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters to make an appearance at the FPSF 2015. As a child of the 1980s, I will never have the opportunity to see Led Zeppelin, so seeing Plant live is as close as I can get to the days of flower power and free love, and Plant would fit in with all of the fringe and flower crowns donned by festivalgoers.
Also, other than Tears for Fears, this year's lineup does not offer much for fans of music released before 1985, which many of us grew up on. And FPSF even overlaps with Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience at House of Blues, so seeing Plant would be a welcome opportunity for us all to "Get The Led Out." KANDACE LYTLE