Review: 2021 Superbowl Halftime Performance

Emma Gramm, Feature Editor

Abel Tesfaye, better known by his stage name The Weeknd, did it all: incorporating unique settings and props, amazing dancers, and a perceptive storyline. The Super Bowl halftime performance had to be set up a bit differently this year considering the need for social distancing, but the multi-award-winning artist did not fail to disappoint.

Many expressed their confusion with the performance, but, after looking further, there was actually a much deeper meaning and symbolism to it. 

As one may know, there was tons of speculation as to if he underwent extreme cosmetic surgery with how he has broad-cast himself in the media months before the show. In actuality, the Weeknd spent a year working on a narrative for a character he created that had fallen victim to ‘Hollywood’s superficialities.’

In a way of promotion for his music, he spent a year bloodying his face. It first started when he took on a bloodied disfigured look in his music video, “Blinding Lights. ” Then, in the “Save your Tears” music video, he unpeeled his bandages to reveal heavily exaggerated facial prosthetics. You can then see this portrayed character fall into a crazed madness while trying to chase success. 

He demonstrated the absurdity of disorienting one’s face for the superficial reasons to fit into the industry of Hollywood. You can clearly see him fit this into the portrayal of the halftime performance.

The way I interpreted the show is in the opening scene he starts off “on top of the world,” as he stands amidst a city and the spotlights beam on him. He then gets lost in this maze of lights- playing off of his song “Blinding Lights.” By the end of the performance a field of bandaged background dancers in identical outfits surround him, representing how he views himself and the industry’s effect on him. 

As far as social distancing goes, his dancers were pictured to have the same bandages on that he was repping for the American Music Awards – also working as a creative way to incorporate masks. 

Some viewers suggested that the R&B singer may have had too dull of a tone for the halftime performance, but The Weeknd proved this wrong by tapping into his Micheal Jackson-esque moves and increasing the tempo of his music. 

He reportedly poured seven million dollars into the performance to ensure that fans were not sold short of their typical halftime show experience. He wanted his story to come to life and in my opinion it did that and more. 

Before this I did not particularly like The Weeknd, but this performance definitely won me over. With the originality of the show and setting, it made for an elaborate, unique performance.