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Blinded by Lights, Energy and Music: The Weeknd’s Super Bowl Halftime Performance

From a shadowed orchestra to bandaged dancing men to an electrifying golden maze, The Weeknd pulled out all the stops for the Super Bowl LV Halftime Performance this year.

His performance began in a car, covered in shadows with bursts of color coming from a makeshift Las Vegas background. A reference to his “Sin City” theme in his latest “After Hours” album, the stage glowed with signs and landmarks from the famous city. Performing at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., the 30-year-old singer began his set with his 2016 number one hit single “Starboy” before segueing into the dark and dirty song “The Hills.” 

Before beginning his 2015 hit song “Can’t Feel My Face,” The Weeknd took the audience inside his set, revealing a golden maze built into what the audience could see on the outside. Taking control of the camera, The Weeknd vlogged his performance of the song that Rolling Stone called “the song of the year” in 2015. As he sang into the camera, dozens of backup dancers wrapped in bandages bumped into him as he tried to escape the maze he put himself in.

After leaving the maze, the performer began a rendition of “Earned It,” his song from the “50 Shades of Gray” franchise that was accompanied by an orchestra of singers and violin players in the background. The slow tune was a sharp contrast to the high-energy it proceeded but a sexy breath of air that reminded everyone of his vocal range.

To finish up his mesmerizing show, the singer alongside dozens of bandaged backup dancers took the ground in front of the stage to perform “House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls” before transitioning to “Blinding Lights,” the most streamed song of 2020. The choreography kept everyone in the stands and those watching through screens captivated with the final shot being of The Weeknd standing in his signature red suit, gold fireworks going off behind him.

Although his performance faced some mixed reviews with many comparing it to last year’s halftime show with Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, I am undeniably a fan. As a longtime listener, it was incredible to catch a glimpse of The Weeknd’s stage presence — even through a screen — and see firsthand the starboy that he is.

Julia Rutkowski

Northwestern '24

Julia Rutkowski is a freshman at Northwestern University. She is studying Journalism and hoping to minor in Business Institutions. A Florida native, Julia enjoys spending time at the beach and soaking up the sun but is also loving Evanston fall weather. In her free time, she loves traveling, watching Schitt's Creek and working with kids!
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