When it comes to one of the biggest performances of the year, The Super Bowl Halftime Show, it’s hard to command a stage without any sort of “special” guests. Lady GaGa did so, Prince and Beyonce as well, as the latter two were influences on The Weeknd and how he’d present himself, amongst other things. And now he stands alongside them since he delivers a career defining performance.
The performance opens with The Weeknd in a car centered on the streets of a gritty Las Vegas night, before he departs and ascends behind these holy lit doors performing “Starboy,” off Starboy. He descends the musical madness by giving us a triumphant performance revolved around the horrors of addiction. The performance leads us through a hall of mirrors, full of clones in bandage masks before The Weeknd walks down on stage with an army of clones and caps the performance with the monstrous hit “Blinding Lights.”
The cynicism within the party like destruction of his lyricism and the futuristic aesthetic that he implements mesh with elegance. The resulting sets, like the cyberpunk-ish choir/violinist stands and the hall of mirrors are representative of the many undercutting themes from his most recent music videos.
The Weeknd mentioned in the past that the reasoning behind the facial work aesthetic was to demonstrate this over relying necessity to please the world physically. Beauty is seen in the outer and not the inner for the luxuries one needs and The Weeknd demonstrates that through the disorienting choreography and camera work during “Can’t Feel My Face,” and after. It represent that notion and more in a way, only The Weeknd can for the kind of performance was expected and eventually delivered.
The cavalcade of songs he performed took us through the history of his greatest hits from House of Balloons to the more recent After Hours. Fortunately for The Weeknd all the hits he performed were significant turning points in his career where his sounds began to involve so effervescently. The visual aesthetic, at times, is a detachment from the ultra violent and mustard-like neon yellow that have been a consistent feature on his music visuals, due to the PG nature of the telecast. It was definitely another hump for them to climb over and the presentation represents a smooth sailing transition from paper to stadium.
The intro carries some slight boring and tedious focus for like a minute or two, but the momentum continues as the performance does. Good thing it doesn’t act a deterrent since it is setting up the scene for The Weeknd to ascend.
Oneothrix Point Never (Daniel Lopatin) was the musical director for the performance. And with that knowledge you could definitely see the influence stylistically, but it leaves you in wonderment about how a non “PG,” show would look like. Either way, the performance was more than expected and definitive middle finger to the Academy for the snubs, as they will miss out on another show-stopping and powerhouse performance from the R&B/Pop Superstar.
Check Out The Performance Below!