The Weeknd performs at 2021 Super Bowl halftime

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On Feb. 7, The Weeknd gave an unforgettable performance at the Super Bowl LV Halftime Show, lighting up the stadium with some of the biggest tracks of his career. The popular Toronto R&B artist is the first Canadian to perform as a solo headliner at the Super Bowl halftime. 

At Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, The Weeknd opened his show by getting out of a sleek red car, taking off his signature shades and stepping into a set of neon signs. The singer then appeared with a choir on the stage that was specially built into the stands of the stadium, which kicked off his first song of the night “Starboy,” the hit single from his third album. 

His dark and enchanting, retro yet futuristic sound set the tone for what would turn out to be a mind-blowing event.

Wearing a glittery red suit jacket and a black shirt and tie, The Weeknd cleverly continued the visual concepts we’ve been seeing throughout the promotion of his latest album, After Hours, which was released just last year. 

Following a mesmerizing snippet of “The Hills,” the artist then took us inside the stage, filming himself with a selfie camera, to a room of mirrors and golden lights, where he sang “Can’t Feel My Face” as dozens of face-bandaged body doubles danced around him. 

After working his way down the stage through “I Feel It Coming,” “Save Your Tears,” and a string-accompanied “Earned It,” The Weeknd winked at the camera as his bandaged dancers moved onto the football field, making way for him to close the show with his 2020 smash hit “Blinding Lights” and an explosion of golden fireworks. 

The artist notably did not host any surprise guest performers, which truly allowed his own unique style to shine throughout the whole set. 

Before his performance, The Weeknd’s manager revealed to Billboard that the singer reportedly spent $7 million of his own money on the production of his halftime show. And by watching his performance, it’s safe to say that he made a good investment. 

Despite the fact that there was no live audience on the field as per usual, The Weeknd’s halftime performance felt like a real-life concert in your living room. The artist’s flawless vocals and larger-than-life sound were enhanced by the spectacle of special effects, elaborate set design and fantastical lighting. 

On Feb. 5, The Weeknd also released a new album called The Highlights—a compilation of his best songs from his successful career so far. The album not only acts as a great starting point for those who are intrigued by The Weeknd following his performance, but it also shows how he has evolved over the past decade and projects how he will hopefully continue to evolve in the future. 

The Weeknd’s Super Bowl halftime show comes after his album After Hours shockingly did not receive a single Grammy nomination. Since then, The Weeknd has been outspoken in his criticism of the Grammys and his performance on Sunday certainly showed the Recording Academy what they’re missing. 

After almost a year without tours or concerts due to COVID, the pressure was on The Weeknd to deliver the live music we’ve been lacking. And because of the pandemic, the musician was actually afforded some unique opportunities to make his show exceptional, such as being able to make use of the entire football field, and targeting special elements of his performance specifically to his TV audience at home. 

The Weeknd’s groundbreaking performance shattered our expectations for a halftime show and proved that big events like the Super Bowl can still be memorable, even during a pandemic.

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