The Weeknd’s Super Bowl Performance

Meagan Carroll, Independent Journalist

Sunday, February 7th, The Weeknd produced an impressive halftime performance during Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. 


This past year, The Weeknd has only shown his face bloody, bruised, or bandaged. In a recent interview with Variety, he explained the message that he is trying to convey.


“The significance of the entire head bandages is reflecting on the absurd culture of Hollywood celebrities and people manipulating themselves for superficial reasons to please and be validated.” 


He has been developing a storyline for the man in the red suit for a while and intended for his Super Bowl performance to be a cinematic experience to continue the plot. Out of respect for viewers at home, he chose to do so in a less graphic manner. The show began with him singing in front of a choir. This can be perceived as the beginning of the journey to Hollywood, fame, and fortune. It is innocent and pure, just a man with a passion for music ready to chase his dreams. Next, he is in a room of mirrors being “blinded by the lights” as multiple versions of himself appear in the scene.


He explained the meaning of this song in an interview with Esquire Magazine: [The song is about] how you want to see someone at night, and you’re intoxicated, and you’re driving to this person and you’re just blinded by streetlights, but nothing could stop you from trying to go see that person, because you’re so lonely. I don’t want to ever promote drunk driving, but that’s what the dark undertone is. He is slowly losing himself to the pressure of meeting society’s expectations in Hollywood.” 


This song is bringing awareness to the severity of drunk driving and providing a message to prevent it. In the next backdrop of the performance, it seems like he is on top of the world. This is the peak of his journey. Next, he is getting out of control. He is surrounded by many versions of himself as he achieves fame and happiness. The camera is positioned in a way to show the fireworks behind him symbolizing the success he has achieved. In the end, the bandaged versions of himself collapse, representing that the person he once was is now gone. Many people were confused by the bandages and the message behind the production, but The Weeknd took advantage of this opportunity to send a message of the toxic culture of society and Hollywood. 


“[But] I don’t like to spoon-feed the audience, hopefully, they can come up with some of their own theories and conclusions for what the show is saying and the story I’m telling with the performance,” said The Weeknd.