The Weeknd leaves fans in astonishment after star-studded Super bowl performance

By Caileigh Alexander

Anyone who watched The Weeknd’s halftime show this past Sunday was left feeling delighted, confused or even scared. The Weekend, also known as Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, begins his performance sitting in a car, a circular device, since he ends his performance with Blinding Lights. We then see a man who appears to be an angel dropped down as a choir performs. Abel then walks out of a golden lit walkway as flashing lights appear amongst the chorus with red eyes. There were also words flashing such as alone, enough, you, ours and touch. Abel then walks through a maze of golden lights (as seen in memes) while many dancers dressed as The Weeknd dance around him with white face wrappings. As he leaves the labyrinth, a moon comes up from under the stage as violins begin to play. The performance ends with “Blinding Lights” with the dancers with the face wrappings dancing on the field around him. At the end of the song, the dancers drop to the ground, and The Weeknd is the only one left standing. 

There’s a lot to unpack from the performance. Although there are mixed feelings about his performance from viewers, dedicated fans of The Weeknd know that this performance has been a year in the making. It began with the release of his short film “After Hours” on March 4, 16 days before his album release. This five-minute video begins with him leaving an interview with Stephen Colbert with a caricature of a smile on his face. However, his face is beaten up with blood dripping down his nose and his cheeks. Once he leaves the stage and is out of sight of people, his smile instantly drops, and he begins to frown villainously as he walks into a subway station. He begins to bleed even more, and as more people start to appear in the frame, he puts glasses on (again hiding parts of himself as we saw with the smile at the beginning). The video ends with him in an elevator with two other people, and as the elevator door closes, we begin to hear screaming. 

A recurring pattern with a beaten-up face and almost violent tendencies occur in multiple videos in this album. However, the second main installment of the narrative he is trying to tell is during his Nov. 23 performance at the American Music Awards. This is the first time that we see the appearance of the face wrapping. Performing his songs “Save Your Tears” and “In Your Eyes,” Abel walks along a bridge with face wrappings resembling plastic surgery patients. The blood on his face is still noticeable, again repeating an appearance of a beaten-up face. 

This story’s third installment is in his latest music video with “Save Your Tears,” which dropped on Jan. 5. Performing this at the American Music Awards with the face wrapping was no coincidence. In this video, he performs in front of an audience sitting as if they are mannequins while wearing masks. If this is not alarming enough, he appears with a prosthetic face, looking as if he had unsuccessful plastic surgery. However, there is one real girl there, he pulls her onto the stage, and while they are dancing, he places a gun in her hand and points it at her head. She then screams, and then he appears in the same room but with orange lighting with fire like symbolism, reminiscent of hell. The video ends with him putting the gun to his head, but confetti shoots out when he pulls the trigger, which could be a symbolism of celebrities pulling massive stunts just for attention. As the camera zooms in, we see him again with the fake caricature smile as we saw in the beginning in the beginning of the After Hours video, except this time he has a prosthetic face.  

What does this all mean? The Weekend himself says the story is centered around the superficial nature of and constantly changing themselves to gain validation. Although this is not an original idea and is a common acknowledgment people have of stars, it was impressive that he played this story out for a year. Is this the ending of the After Hours era? We do not know yet. Whether this is the ending or just another installment of the story, it’s safe to say the performance was a success.

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