The Weeknd Dazzles in Unprecedented Super Bowl Halftime Show

Story posted February 8, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment by Morayo Ogunbayo.

The Super Bowl 55 halftime show was graced with a performance by The Weeknd, the Toronto-based R&B artist whose pop music sensibilities have thrown him into mainstream pop stardom. The performance, noticeably lacking the guest stars and a live crowd that boosted halftime shows before it, was marked by deep colors and a smoky atmosphere.

The Weeknd — born Abel Tesfaye — was a unique choice to perform the halftime show. Unlike recent performers such as Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga, he didn’t possess as much mainstream popularity as halftime performers are expected to have. Still, many hoped his performance would be similar to Bruno Mars’ 2014 performance that enthralled audiences throughout the country.

The Weeknd played his biggest career hits and spent the entire performance donning a red suit jacket — his signature look from his 2020 album “After Hours.”

The halftime show started with a Las Vegas-style backdrop as an angelic chorus sang. The singer’s first song, “Starboy” from his 2016 album of the same name, once dominated the airwaves and was the ideal first song for a lesser-known halftime artist. The choir continued to provide backing for the song and served as background dancers through their robotic “dancing.”

The next song, “The Hills,” was one of The Weeknd’s first songs to go mainstream and was marked by a smoky atmosphere and impressive falsettos. He spent most of this song looking into the camera in a way that felt reminiscent of in-person concerts.

As he moved into “I Can’t Feel My Face,” arguably his largest mainstream success, The Weeknd ran through a house of mirrors — highlighting the disorienting nature of the song. A crowd of bandaged people, in homage to his most recent music video, circled him.

The performance returned to normalcy with the song “I Feel It Coming” before moving to the “After Hours” deep cut “Save Your Tears.”

“Earned It,” his next song, was well-known for being on the first “Fifty Shades of Grey” soundtrack and brought sultry energy similar to the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira.

“Blinding Lights,” his 2020 hit popularized with a TikTok dance, was the last song of his performance and brought back the chorus to take over the field in a marching band-like formation.

While the performance was noticeably lacking typical halftime show hallmarks — such as civilian performers and exciting guest stars — The Weeknd put on an exhilarating show during an unprecedented Super Bowl.

 

Morayo Ogunbayo is a sophomore studying journalism. To contact her, email mxo5216@psu.edu.