A review of The Weeknd’s Super Bowl halftime performance 

By: Caroline Crosby

There’s much to dissect concerning the eye-catching narrative that The Weeknd worked so hard to convey to fans, so I’ll first offer a personal hottake. 

Looking back on the performance, as someone who knew next to nothing about the superstar’s intentions, I must say, I was incredibly confused at first. It provided all the glamour and elaborate choreography that has come to be expected of a legendary Super Bowl halftime show, but the underlying message (far from my own comprehension, at the time) irked me. What was he trying to say? Why include the dizzying mirror scene and sea of red-jacket clad backup dancers? What significance did the face-obscuring bandages offer? 

I was not alone in my perplexity. The performance was well received by many, but also prompted much speculation and critique from confused fans and the general public alike. 

The media, to no one’s surprise, has been diligently circulating rumors regarding the “true meaning” of The Weeknd’s unique performance on the 7th. So what in the world could the real message be, and why were some fans so shocked after it’s grand debut?

In an interview with ‘Variety’, on the 3rd of February, The Weeknd stated that, “The significance of the entire head bandages is reflecting on the absurd culture of Hollywood celebrity and people manipulating themselves for superficial reasons to please and be validated, it’s all a progression and we watch The Character’s storyline hit heightened levels of danger and absurdity as his tale goes on.” 

The character referred to here, is one that The Weeknd had been developing since September of 2020, in preparation for the emerging show’s narrative. Throughout his concerts and various public appearances prior to the Super Bowl, the 30-year-old was frequently seen in prosthetics and bandages, adding to the general confusion of devoted fans and other patrons of pop culture.

Many expressed discontent with the star’s sudden transformation and obviously intense physical reconstruction, convinced that he was gearing up for some big reveal per his highly anticipated Super Bowl debut.

The Weeknd shocked fans yet again when he showed up as himself, perfectly bandage and prosthetic free. The performance came and went, and as expected, general Twitter chaos ensued. It was only after the fact when the bizarre storyline reached its climax and became clearest to the public.

Overall, The Weeknd’s cryptic performance provided a moving commentary on the loss of individuality that plagues fame, and the plastic “people pleasing personas” that many stars find themselves chained to in order to retain popularity in today’s society.

Regarding the big show in an interview with ‘Billboard Magazine’, The Weeknd explained, “We’ve really been focusing on dialing in on the fans at home and making performances a cinematic experience, and we want to do that with the Superbowl.” 

Truly dedicated to said performance, various sources report that The Weeknd paid around 7 million USD out of pocket to supply all the necessary resources for the show. A highly unusual feat for those graced with halftime-level stardom, but probably didn’t make much of a dent in the wallet of the man in the ruby jacket.

In other semi-relevant news, the aforementioned Givenchy jacket sported by our performer was embroidered with authentic rubies, and weighed around 44 lbs. For reference, The Weeknd spun around a football field in front of 96.4 million viewers, in a jacket equal in weight to that of an adolescent Basset Hound.

If that doesn’t convince you of the man’s sheer devotion to the arts, I’m not sure what will.

For the full recording of The Weeknd’s performance, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rhadTURsrw 

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