With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers holding a commanding lead over the Kansas City Chiefs, the performer, whose real name is Abel Tesfae, took the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. a significantly more subdued and stripped-down performance than viewers of the high-profile TV event are typically used to.
It didn’t take long for viewers to take to Twitter to pan the performance, which saw the singer merely jump from song-to-song with little showmanship or surprises. In fact, he didn’t even leave the stands to perform in the field until the very end.
The Weeknd performs during the halftime show at the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla.
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
“I find #TheWeeknd such a creative artist but this was not it Yawning face #HalfTimeShow,” one viewer wrote.
“I love @theweeknd , but that could have been better. His music choice was great, but overall, for a half time show, IT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER,” wrote another.
“no offense to The Weeknd but what was that,” a third noted.
“Look I really like the Weeknd’s music and he had a really good song selection, but I didn’t think the halftime show was that great. It was a bit underwhelming,” added another.
“That may be THE WORST halftime show in history. I’m shocked at how bad The Weeknd was,” wrote another viewer.
However, note everyone was in agreement that the performance wasn’t up to par for the Super Bowl.
TAMPA, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 07: The Weeknd performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.
(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
“@theweeknd put on a good halftime show! Enjoyed it!” wrote one positive viewer.
“@theweeknd killed it at the @SuperBowl halftime show. Amazing vocalist Man singer Great stage set! #theweekend #music The New MJ ‘hee hee’,” someone else wrote.
“BEST HALFTIME SHOW EVER,” a more blunt user tweeted.
The performer opened the show accompanied by a choir with red light-up eyes singing “Starboy.” From there he merely danced his way through his reliable hits such as “The Hills,” “I Feel It Coming” and his song of the summer “Blinding Lights.”
Perhaps the most visually interesting moment came during the track “Can’t Feel My Face,” which featured a group of dancers join The Weeknd in a hall of mirrors wearing the same red blazer and black pants but with fully bandaged faces. The bandaged clones moved chaotically, bumping into the singer and fighting for the small space. However, they suddenly became organized and did a brief choreographed dance with The Weeknd before he returned to the stands to perform another song.
TAMPA, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 07: The Weeknd performs onstage during the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.
(Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for TW)
The bandaged clone dancers returned for the finale of the Halftime Show when dozens of them were led by The Weeknd as they marched the full length of the field.
The Weeknd was announced as the headlining performer, following Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s massively popular show in 2020, by the NFL in November. The singer also posted the announcement on his own Twitter writing: “performing on the iconic stage. see you 02/07/21.”