Who needs a Grammy?
After his appalling shutout from November’s Grammy Awards nominations, The Weeknd played the world’s largest stage Sunday, headlining the Super Bowl 55 halftime show. And with Vegas-style showmanship and velvety vocals, the pop/R&B superstar proved he’s bigger than any archaic, out-of-touch awards show.
The Weeknd (real name: Abel Tesfaye) took the field at Raymond Jones Stadium in Tampa, Florida, for a breakneck 13-minute set, running through hits including the euphoric “Blinding Lights” and synth-driven “Save Your Tears” from his neon-drenched fourth album “After Hours,” released last March. He also reached into his back catalog for the hypnotic “I Can’t Feel My Face,” ominous “The Hills” and alluring “Earned It” from the “Fifty Shades of Grey” soundtrack.
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Bucking Super Bowl tradition, The Weeknd didn’t bring out any guests, despite having an arsenal of fan-favorite collaborations with Ariana Grande (“Love Me Harder”), Daft Punk (“Starboy”) or Kendrick Lamar (“Pray For Me”). Instead, he stuck to a narrative originated in his “After Hours” album and visuals, with a Sin City backdrop and face-bandaged backup dancers in red suits.
The Weeknd’s halftime show was a stark departure from last year’s joyous performance, when Jennifer Lopez and Shakira teamed up for an athletic, dance-heavy celebration of Latin culture. It couldn’t match the breathtaking highs of Beyoncé’s immaculate 2013 show, nor did it have any indelible, emotional moments like Prince singing “Purple Rain” in a downpour in 2007. But it was still a vast improvement over Maroon 5’s messy 2019 performance and the Black Eyed Peas futuristic eyesore in 2011, which rank among the worst halftime shows of the past decade.
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