The Weeknd’s Super Bowl halftime present: Will he put on these face bandages? What songs will he sing?


It’ll be a Super Bowl halftime present like no different.

When The Weeknd takes the stage Sunday at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, he’ll be performing for a crowd that’ll be a couple of third the dimensions it could sometimes be as a consequence of coronavirus precautions.

The TV viewers, however, may very well be larger than ever as many individuals are anticipated to remain home, avoiding the standard massive gatherings. Last 12 months, when Shakira and Jennifer Lopez carried out, 102 million viewers tuned in.

The huge recreation, that includes the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS.

In an interview with Billboard, the R&B celebrity (actual title Abel Tesfaye) promised followers a “cinematic experience.” He’s opened up his pockets to take action, contributing $7 million along with what organizers sometimes pay. The present might be solely reside, one thing that hasn’t all the time been the case in recent times.

This’ll be his first main nationwide efficiency since being snubbed by the Grammys and enjoying the Super Bowl is a shiny spot for the singer, says Amir “Cash” Esmailian, who co-manages The Weeknd. The Weeknd, whose work had been submitted in six classes, tweeted “The Grammys remain corrupt” after nominations have been introduced.

There was hypothesis the snub was as a result of truth The Weeknd was going to carry out at each the Super Bowl and the Grammys ceremony, however the Recording Academy disputed that.

“We always had the Super Bowl on our bucket list, and we’ve always had timelines for all of our goals,” Esmailian told Billboard. “It came a few years earlier than we expected. We’ve been really focusing on dialing in on the fans at home.”

So what can we expect? Here’s what we know so far.

Will he continue his bandaged ‘After Hours’ look?

Will the bandages The Weeknd sported at the American Music Awards and during other appearances last year make a return appearance?

The so-called “After Hours” look, named after his latest album, started with a bloodied face, modeled after the album’s cover. It then progressed to bandages covering his entire face, like someone might appear after having dramatic plastic surgery. And sure enough, by the time the video for “Save Your Tears” rolled out, The Weeknd was sporting prosthetics that created chipmunk cheeks and swollen lips.

Based on a recently released Pepsi Super Bowl ad featuring The Weeknd, it appears the blood, bandages and prosthetics won’t be making an appearance this weekend. The 30-second spot features the singer looking perfectly normal as he walks into a stadium, where he’s greeted by the cheers of fans.

“What we create adjustments us,” the announcer says. “Every efficiency, a brand new chapter. Every stage, a brand new starting.”

The Weeknd had been mum about what was behind the “After Hours” look, resulting in all kinds of theories, together with that it was assertion towards police brutality. He lastly revealed in a latest Variety story that the bandages have been a mirrored image of “the absurd tradition of Hollywood movie star and folks manipulating themselves for superficial causes to please and be validated.”

At a pre-Super Bowl press conference Thursday, said he plans to “incorporate” the storyline but plans to keep things “PG for the households,” USA TODAY Sports stories.

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What songs will The Weeknd carry out?

Billboard’s Katie Bain, who interviewed The Weeknd for a latest cowl story, known as the singer “very charming and really good.” In person, she says, he’s not as hard-edged as you might think.

“He made me really feel very comfy,” she said. “He’s not cocky, he is not conceited.”

He is, however, mysterious. Perpetually press-shy, The Weeknd wouldn’t say much about what he’s got planned for Sunday, but Bain says she expects the focus to be on his newer works such as “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights” during the show, which will last the typical 12 to 13 minutes.

“Blinding Lights,” in particular, seems like a shoo-in. The song spent more than a year on the Billboard Hot 100.

But Pandora crunched the numbers and found that it’s older works from The Weeknd that are most popular with its users, leading Mike Spinella, Pandora’s senior director of original content, to speculate there will be at least a few songs from early in his career. The Weeknd’s top songs on Pandora, based on “thumb-up” ratings from users include “Earned It” (9.2 million thumbs up), “Star Boy” (3.8 million thumbs up) and “Die For You” (2.8 million thumbs up).

On The Weeknd XO Fans, a Facebook group, there’s no shortage of opinions on what the singer should or shouldn’t perform. Fe Knowles, an administrator of the group, hopes for a mix of new and old tunes so we can “see his development from chapter to chapter, totally different eras, previous and current.”

Whatever he picks, fans say they’re convinced they’ll walk away satisfied.

“I do know for a truth Abel will prime any reside efficiency there was beforehand, simply because he’s going all out and contributing his personal cash into his efficiency,” Michelle Ortega, a group member, told USA TODAY. “Obviously, Abel will play his prime hits he’s had within the earlier years. It’s going to be a present we’ll all bear in mind years down the highway.”

“He’s the most effective of this era,” member Jessica Hosang says. “His music reaches the soul, which is not any simple feat. He’s continually evolving, ever-changing. In a world the place originality was thought to have been misplaced, he drives it. I hope the thousands and thousands of individuals watching get to really feel his music, as we really feel it.”

Will The Weeknd make a political statement?

The Super Bowl halftime stage is one of the most far-reaching an artist could hope for, and not just to share their music. Activist artists have been known to sometimes make political statements during their performances, such as when Lady Gaga was praised or criticized, depending on your point of view, for what some felt was a not-so-subtle dig at President Donald Trump in 2017.

The Weeknd has been a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, so a nod to racial and societal justice wouldn’t be out of the question. In the past year, in addition to countless social media posts, he’s also donated thousands to causes related to BLM. He’s even said upcoming music will likely be inspired in part by BLM, the 2020 election and COVID-19.

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At the MTV Video Music Awards, a very somber The Weeknd paid tribute to the victims in two high-profile police brutality cases, saying: “It’s really hard for me to celebrate right now and enjoy this moment so I’m just going to say justice for Jacob Blake and just for Breonna Taylor.”

Blake, a Black man, was shot by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Taylor, a Black woman, was killed by white police officers in Louisville, Kentucky.

Follow Gary Dinges on Twitter @gdinges

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The Weeknd’s Super Bowl performance: What will he sing?