The National Football League’s (NFL) annual Super Bowl championship game showcases the best of the best in a battle for the Lombardi trophy. The event draws in sports viewers as well as those who appreciate comedic commercials and halftime performances, headlined by some of the biggest names in music.
Super Bowl LV took place in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla. which can hold up to 65,000 fans. However, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, attendance was restricted to 25,000 people with 7,500 of them being vaccinated health care workers.
Abel Tesfaye, better known by his stage name The Weeknd, delivered the Pepsi Halftime Show in the midst of a pandemic. The singer was restricted to a stage in the stands rather than on the field in compliance with strict covid protocols. He even pitched in $7 million of his own money into the production.
Tesfaye delivered a captivating performance consisting of songs from his past albums and his new album “After Hours,” released on Mar. 20, 2020. His performance was also accompanied by endless pyro and flashing colorful lights.
The star began his show revealing the robot-like choir surrounded by a cityscape. Senior, Ani Pradeep, believed the set added a new dimension to his performance. “The set was incredible to lay your eyes upon,” he said. “It characterizes how much the Weeknd is both a singer and an entertainer.”
The first glimpse of the Weeknd could be seen when he walked through a lighted tunnel, dressed in the red, sparkly suit from his “Save Your Tears” music video. The choir opened with “Call Out My Name” and then the singer transitioned into “Starboy,” making his entrance onto the stage.
After delivering a charismatic and passionate rendition of “The Hills,” he led viewers into a maze of mirrors and lights while singing “I Can’t Feel My Face.” A meme was instantly born out of The Weeknd’s masked dancers colliding with each other as he dramatically sang up close to the camera, adding a distinct element to the halftime performance.
His rendition of “I Feel It Coming” introduced unique camera angles that senior Sandro Xiao believes solidified the Weeknd as a classy, creative performer. “He knows how to connect with the audience because of his style and charisma, despite a covid restricted performance,” he explained. The Weeknd’s connection with the camera revealed his confidence in live entertainment.
He didn’t please all of his viewers, however. PV alumni Kadin Kruse found the show underwhelming. “The dance routines were dysfunctional and disordered. Compared to past halftime performances, this year’s was boring and underwhelming,” he expressed. “When the show was over I was like ‘that’s it?’”.
The Weeknd’s execution of “Save Your Tears” and “Earned It” exhibited his wide vocal range and fascinating dancing capabilities. It also displayed his ability to shift the tone by transitioning from his 80’s inspired music to a slow, seductive melody.
The masked dancers made their return by accompanying The Weeknd on the field, capping off the show with “Blinding Lights.” His stare into the camera while singing the final notes and absorbing the barrage of fireworks in the background was the final scene of his electrifying halftime performance.