Abel Tesfaye, more familiarly known as The Weeknd, became the first Canadian artist to headline a solo Super Bowl Halftime Show on Feb. 7.
Attempting to create a cinematic experience, The Weeknd spent $7 million on the performance. Seton Hall students shared their reactions to the halftime show.
The 14-minute medley featured a variety of songs, spanning from his first album “Trilogy” all the way to his most recent album, “After Hours.”
The Weeknd began the show singing in the stands of the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The staging featured a widespread cityscape and a gospel choir who wore transparent face masks with goggles with beaming red eyes.
The cityscape then split open and The Weeknd took over as videographer, leading viewers through a hall of mirrors and golden light bulbs.
Only in the last few minutes of the show did The Weeknd emerge onto the field. He was joined by hundreds of bandaged dancers replicating his outfit who scattered down the full length of the football field. The dancers all marched simultaneously to “House of Balloons,” a song from The Weeknd’s debut mixtape, “Trilogy.”
The narrative of The Weeknd’s performance was based on his last album, “After Hours,” which explains Hollywood’s obsession with modifying oneself for superficial reasons to feel validated.
“It was a great show,” Myles Douglas, a senior business major, said. “I was not expecting it to be that good. It was definitely the best halftime show in a while. My expectations were not too high because of the COVID-19 protocols, but it definitely surpassed my expectations.”
Claire Driscoll, a junior visual and sound media major, said she felt that The Weeknd’s performance alluded to COVID-19.
“In his intro, we see an almost black stage filled with what looks like to be people in gowns and masks,” Driscoll said. “Later, words like ‘alone,’ ‘touch’ and ‘long’ are emphasized, relating to the quarantine we have all endured. However, we watch as The Weeknd walks in and out of a lit walk-way in the middle of the stage, perhaps symbolizing that there is light at the end of all this darkness.”
Driscoll added that when The Weeknd was performing his hit song “Can’t Feel My Face,” viewers saw dancers covered in surgical masks “awkwardly walk around confused and chaotic, just as we all were at the beginning of quarantine.”
There was a “moment of cohesiveness” when the doppelgangers all dance together, which is the “unity we all are striving for in this climate,” Driscoll said.
Saul Martinez, a junior psychology major, shared similar sentiments about the performance. Martinez said he was intrigued to see what type of performance The Weeknd would produce. He said he loved the performance and the storytelling about the world of Hollywood.
“The Weeknd has tended to be an artist that goes above and beyond and that was shown on Sunday,” Martinez said. “He invested his own money into his performance to capture what he had seen was the perfect story to be illustrated. I personally did like The Weeknd’s performance on Sunday.
Alyssa Figueiredo can be reached at email@example.com.