Three-time Grammy award-winning artist The Weeknd performed a 14-minute “cinematic experience” at Super Bowl LV, delivering a spectacle on one of the biggest stages in the world.
His performance was filled with backup vocalists and dancers who had red eyes and wore red and black suits with bandage masks which covered their faces.
The blinding strobe lights, fireworks, hall of mirrors and fog machines all contributed to the production. He performed some of his hit songs, “Starboy,” “The Hills,” “Blinding Lights,” and more.
Tesfaye’s manager Wassim “Sal” Slaiby revealed that he spent $7 million of his own money on top of the generous budget of around roughly $10 million to make the halftime show what he dreamed it would be.
Was the extra $7 million worth the performance Tesfaye gave?
“We’ve been really focusing on dialing in on the fans at home and making performances a cinematic experience, and we want to do that with the Super Bowl,” he told Billboard in an interview.
USC student and Marshall Entertainment Association member Trey Spellman watched the Super Bowl solely for Tesfaye’s halftime performance.
“I enjoyed the performance and I feel like [the money] was worth it because it’s the Super Bowl. Go big or go home,” Spellman said. “You might as well, no one has been performing for the past year at wide-scale events...do everything you can to make an impression.”
Tesfaye is worth millions of dollars, so although $7 million is a pretty penny, the investment most likely did not hurt his pockets much.
“I doubt he is someone who is strapped for cash. If he has the funds, he might as well leave a good impression,” Spellman said.
Not everyone thought the pop superstar left a good impression with his performance, however. USC journalism master’s student Sutton Reekes does not think the extra millions added onto production was worth it.
“I honestly didn’t even notice where the $7 million went when I watched it,” Reekes said. “It was a bit underwhelming, and yes, we have to take into consideration that it’s during a pandemic, but the amount of money that was put into it didn’t seem to translate across the screen.”
Previous Super Bowl headliners have excited viewers by bringing out special guests during their performances. Last year Shakira and Jenifer Lopez co-headlined Super Bowl LIV and had special guest appearances from J Balvin, Bad Bunny and Lopez’s daughter Emme.
This year, Tesfaye carried the show himself, leading some to pose questions wondering where the millions were spent on the performance.
“There was nothing that led me to think this cost an extra $7 million,” Reekes said.”Comparing it to last year with Shakira and J-Lo, they were just on two different playing fields.”
Even Tesfaye fans who have followed his journey from when he first started were unclear why the cost of production was so high. USC journalism master’s student and Weeknd superfan Isabel Castillo does not think the performance was one of the best performances in Super Bowl history.
“A lot of people said that it was one of the best Super Bowls [performances], but I really don’t think that it was,” Castillo said. “Yes, he was a great singer and performer, and I am super proud of him. But I feel like he could have done more...I just don’t see how he could have spent an extra $7 million dollars.”
Immediately following the performance, viewers ran to social media both praising and condemning what they just witnessed.
Whether viewers loved or hated the performance, the one thing people can agree on are the funny memes that came from the performance.
Now begins the mystery of who will headline Super Bowl LVI, which will be located just miles away from USC at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.