On Feb. 7, The Weeknd headlined the annual Pepsi HalfTime Show during Super Bowl LV. The performance and game aired live on CBS as well as its streaming service, CBS All Access, last Sunday evening.
“I thought it was good. I didn’t think it was over the top or the best halftime show, but it was during a pandemic. I didn’t think it was bad,” said sophomore Rachel Petti.
The Weeknd began his setlist in the stands of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla. The show began with his hit song, “Starboy.”
“Starboy” is originally a duet with Grammy Award-winning EDM duo, Daft Punk. “Starboy” is one of The Weeknd’s many collaborations throughout his career.
In the days prior to the Super Bowl, many people speculated on social media that artists with whom The Weeknd has previously collaborated, such as Daft Punk and Ariana Grande, were going to make a surprise appearance during the show. However, The Weeknd performed the entire show alone with no special guests.
“I thought the performance got a lot of hate and criticism because it was just him instead of others, but due to COVID, he couldn’t have done that,” said freshman Alaina Deshefy. “It was a really good performance under the circumstances. He couldn’t have a lot of dancers and huge things going on.”
About four minutes into the 14-minute performance, The Weeknd dizzily navigated his way inside the stadium through a maze of mirrors and lights. During this, he sang his song “I Can’t Feel My Face.” This moment sparked a lot of memes across Twitter and Instagram.
Around 10 minutes into the performance, The Weeknd joined a large group of dancers on the field dressed in the same red suit jacket as him and accessorized with head bandages and face masks.
Ever since The Weeknd’s album “After Hours’’ came out in March 2020, he has made various public appearances with evolving cuts, bruises and bandages as part of his physical appearance, which is said to be part of a storyline for the album.
TikTok user @waleezy explained The Weeknd’s intentions in a TikTok video with 2.5 million likes.
“You got to give it to The Weeknd. He was fully committed. This has been months in the making and tonight was the finale,” he said.
“His whole performance was based around his newest album that a lot of people don’t know about, but it all made sense if you understood his album,” said Deshefy. “He stayed in character the whole time.”
However, some thought The Weeknd was sending another message with the head bandages and masks. Former Surgeon General of the U.S. Jerome Adams tweeted, “I did like the mask wearing and the social distancing at the #SuperBowl halftime show. Well done!”
“I’ve loved The Weeknd’s music for a long time now, and as a fan, I was so happy to see him dip into his discography and play a variety of his music over the years,” said senior Alex Caruso. “During an interesting year with no fans present, The Weeknd was able to up the cinematography and overall quality of his performance as he was purely focused on the television audience.”
According to Keith Caulfield of Billboard, “Streams of The Weeknd’s songs surged 41% in the U.S. following the star’s Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 7, according to initial reports to MRC Data.”
“His collected songs across his entire catalog generated 48.9 million on-demand streams (audio and video) on Feb. 7-8 – up 42% compared to the 34.5 million they tallied on Feb. 5-6,” said Caulfield.
“He was able to show off his signature style through this performance, and I truly believe it was the greatest Super Bowl halftime show of all time,” said Caruso.