The Weeknd Gave An Electrifying Performance At Super Bowl LV

by Duke Magazine

On Sunday evening, Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye  completed his decade-long trip from anonymous producer to the heights of pop stardom when he headlined the halftime show at Super Bowl LV. In a performance that traversed his entire career, he illustrated why he is already preparing to release a greatest hits collection called The Highlights later this month. He was backed by an array of singers and dancers, though unusually for a halftime performance, he was not joined by any other artists.

To the opening strains of his 2016 hit “Starboy,” The Weeknd took to the stage designed to look like a heightened version of the Las Vegas strip, back by a dancing choir wearing helmets identical to the ones worn by his collaborators Daft Punk. Due to a reduced number of spectators and in an attempt to speed transitions, a stage was built in the stands of the arena for the first time. 

He jumped in between his various albums, but starting with his back catalog, going from the “The Hills” to his 2015 number one hit “I Can’t Feel My Face,” which played as he walked through a mirrored hallway surrounded by bandaged lookalikes also wearing glittering red blazers, as fireworks erupted in the background. 

With the backing of an orchestra, he did a rendition of “Earned It,” his contribution to the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack and one of his earliest Top 40 hits. Wearing a pair of black-and-white wingtips, he did a feint at moonwalking. In an interview with Variety last week, he said he was influenced by Michael Jackson’s performance at the 1993 Super Bowl. In addition to his more conventional hits, he played “House of Balloons” from his first EP released for free on his website in 2011. It resolved into his recent hit “Blinding Lights” as he walked from the stands onto the middle of the field, surrounded by background dancers.

Meanwhile, Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old poet who garnered worldwide attention after starring during last month’s presidential inauguration, also gave a poetic rendition before the commencement of the game.

The game was later won by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who defeated Kansas City Chiefs 31 to 9, giving legendary quarterback Tom Brady a record seventh Super Bowl victory.

The super bowl is one of the year’s biggest cultural events in the US and the 2021 show did not disappoint on the Hollywood star power front, with blockbuster film trailers and celebrity-filled adverts appearing during commercial breaks.

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