The Weekend: Super Bowl Review


The Weeknd’s performance at the Super Bowl XLV halftime show resulted in a sea of mixed opinions from viewers across the country.

While some considered his performance to be underwhelming, I believe it was brilliantly captivating for what could be done under the cloud of the pandemic.

Although the cost to put on Super Bowl halftime shows is generally covered by the NFL, The Weeknd paid seven million dollars of his own money, according to his manager Sal Slaiby in a profile with Billboard Magazine, in order for his performance to be up to his personal standards.

Throughout his whole career, The Weeknd has been known as pop’s anti-pop star because of his typically edgy fare, but had to tone it down to appeal to a family friendly audience. This performance was a great opportunity for The Weeknd to solidify a new reputation while expanding his fanbase across all ages and putting a new emphasis on his name in the public eye.

With obvious COVID-19 restrictions in place, The Weeknd had to adapt his performance to certain protocols. He is the first artist to have the stage for their performance placed in the stands. I felt he did an amazing job at maximizing his space and taking control of the field as much as he could.

I noticed the lack of a common over the top halftime show performance allowed The Weeknd to completely showcase his beautifully powerful vocals. His setlist consisted of eight of his greatest hits, which concluded with the show stopping hit that arguably earned him the performance slot in the first place, “Blinding Lights.”

Although several names were rumored to be making guest appearances, The Weeknd performed entirely solo. His lone voice was kept company by a whole orchestra and a field completely full of dancers decked out in red suits to match the man himself. I thought the field covered in dancers provided good padding for the solo performance, and helped The Weeknd bring the show to life.

With a performance clearly designed for at home consumption, I enjoyed seeing The Weeknd focusing on the camera more heavily than halftime shows in the past. Especially during his rendition of “I Can’t Feel My Face” when he slips into a glittering hall full of mirrors and gets up close and personal singing right into the camera. It made my status as an at home watcher feel a bit more intimate.

Alongside the vivid array of cityscape set pieces, the performance was turned up a notch with eye-catching fireworks and a massive dance routine that took over the entire field. The dancers began their choreography strictly mirroring each other, but as the show went on, the dancing style got sloppier as they ran around, circling the singer frantically. By the end of the performance, they had all dropped to the ground covering the field.

I thoroughly enjoyed the way the stylistic dance played into the story that goes along with the After Hours album, and continued to develop the story as an extension to the music videos. The organized chaos went perfectly with the song election, and put you into the right mindset for the performance.

To further push the narrative of the After Hours album, the dancers had white bandages covering their faces, which helped their masks blend perfectly into the costume.

With many obstacles making this halftime performance special in more ways than one, The Weeknd put himself on the map while exceeding expectations and introduced himself to a whole new fanbase.

Overall, The Weeknd had a great performance, considering what could be done during the pandemic, and definitely maxed out on every opportunity to add show stopping detail perfectly.