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  • By Tyler Connolly

The “Blinding Lights” of the Weeknd’s Super Bowl halftime show

The Weeknd performing at Raymond James Stadium with his background dancers. Photo courtesy of The Chicago Tribune.

The Weeknd invested seven million dollars of his own money into his halftime show that brought the Las Vegas strip to Raymond James Stadium on Sunday night.

With a neon set featuring casinos, bars, hotels, and skyscrapers, the singer donned his signature red suit with black gloves, an outfit that he has been sporting since the release of his “After Hours” album. Yet, this time the suit was covered entirely in rubies.

The Weeknd previously stated that this performance would be a family-friendly continuation of the story he has been telling in his music videos and performances for his “After Hours” album; it seems the performance did just that. Not all eight songs the singer performed were from his most recent album, but all were well known.

The performance started with “Starboy,” featuring a massive choir with glowing red eyes that gave the performance an eerie feel. He then moved onto songs like “The Hills” and “Can’t Feel My Face,” which featured the singer walking with the camera (with a fisheye lens attached) inside a bright mirror maze/fun house. Many viewers felt that this was odd, yet interesting because it was unlike anything seen at a halftime show.

While inside the mirror maze, many dancers emerged wearing outfits like the singer with bandages on their faces, a look that The Weeknd himself has coined at awards shows and in performances. He then performed “I Feel It Coming,” “Save Your Tears,” and “Earned It,” before moving to the field with his dancers concluding with “House of Balloons” and “Blinding Lights.”

The emergence of background dancers helped make up for The Weeknd’s lack of dancing, which was partly because the red jacket he was wearing weighed 40 pounds. The singer also had constant fireworks, sparks, and lights behind him, so the audience was not just watching him stand still while singing. The best part of the performance was when the show left the stage and moved to the field, where the dancers performed moves within a vast space and The Weeknd walked around freely. The performance concluded with a bang while the singer had dancers circling him, fireworks exploding, and sang his most popular song.

Overall, the halftime show was better than previous performances for viewers at home, since many could not attend due to COVID-19. The Weeknd delivered his promise to create an immersive and unique experience for those at home, and created a halftime show that many will remember for years to come.

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