The Weeknd is set to take the stage at the 2021 Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show -- and we're ready to be blinded by the lights!
After a year of hit singles and epic awards show performances, the R&B superstar is bringing his cinematic After Hours era to music's biggest stage. He's sure to pull out all the stops, as he's already performed on top of a New York City skyscraper at last fall's VMAs, amid a massive fireworks spectacle at the AMAs and in an epic backstage tracking shot at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
"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," The Weeknd told Billboard of the upcoming show.
ET's Kevin Frazier sat down with Super Bowl executive producer Jesse Collins to get the scoop on everything Super Bowl LV, including how The Weeknd might use the COVID-19 capacity limitations to his advantage. The NFL announced last week that 22,000 fans will be in attendance at the big game, a bit under half of the capacity of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
"We're gonna use the stadium to present the show in a way that it's never been presented before," promised Collins, who is also co-EP of this year's GRAMMYs. "Instead of focusing on what we can't do [due to the pandemic], it's like, look at what the opportunities are because of the cards we've been dealt."
When and Where Is It Happening? Super Bowl LV is being held on Sunday, Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida -- home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The game kicks off at 3:30pm PT/6:30pm ET, which means halftime will be around 5pm PT/8pm ET.
During his NFL press conference ahead of the big game, The Weeknd addressed reports that he put $7 million of his own money into his halftime show, and that the performance will take place entirely in the stands.
"Well, due to COVID-19 and for the safety of the players and the workers, we kind of built this stage within the stadium," The Weeknd explained. "We're also using the field as well, but we wanted to kind of do something that we've never done before."
How to Watch? The game and halftime show will air live on CBS and stream live on Paramount+.
What's The Weeknd Performing? Super Bowl set lists are usually kept top-secret, and while The Weeknd hasn't dropped many hints about his performance, it's probably a safe bet that his massively popular 2020 single "Blinding Lights" will be a part of the show in some way, likely alongside some other After Hours standouts like "In Your Eyes" and "Save Your Tears." Here's to hoping he also surprises fans with some of his past up-tempo hits like "Can't Feel My Face," "Starboy," "In the Night," "Pray For Me" and more.
"He's got monster hits, and he really worked hard to make sure that they are presented in a way, in a Super Bowl halftime format, in a live way that's never been done before," Collins told ET. "The key word is 'live,' like, we didn't go pre-tape this... It's all happening in that stadium, in that moment."
Are There Any Special Guests? None confirmed yet, but The Weeknd has collaborated with Doja Cat, Maluma, Rosalia, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Uzi Vert, Major Lazer and Kenny G in recent years, which leaves the door open to plenty of possible appearances!
"Yeah, maybe there will be cameos, but we can't say what he's doing," Collins teased. "It's definitely a very special show, you just got to watch and see what happens."
What Will His Face Look Like? Another great question. The Weeknd's latest era has been his more aesthetically-committed of his career so far, from his red suit and black shirt and tie ensemble to the various stages of facial battery he's created with the help of some talented makeup artists.
"The significance of the entire head bandages is reflecting on the absurd culture of Hollywood celebrity and people manipulating themselves for superficial reasons to please and be validated," The Weeknd told Variety ahead of his big performance. "It’s all a progression and we watch The Character’s storyline hit heightened levels of danger and absurdity as his tale goes on."
From a bloody nose to his fully-bandaged AMA look to his most recent plastic surgery-inspired visage in the "Save Your Tears" video, it's clear that After Hours is all about transformation for the performer -- as he says, "being attractive isn’t important to me but a compelling narrative is" -- and our money's on him having something pretty epic planned for the Super Bowl.
As for the violence and bloody imagery, The Weeknd said during his NFL press conference, "I definitely want to be respectful to the viewers at home. I will still incorporate some of the storyline. It's a very cohesive story I've been telling throughout this era and throughout this year. The story will continue, but definitely will keep it PG for the families. I'll try my best."
Will There Be a GRAMMYs Dig? There might be. Fans thought that the "Save Your Tears" video featured a slam at the annual music awards show -- after The Weeknd, After Hours, and "Blinding Lights" were all shut out -- and he's been outspoken on social media about feeling slighted. The GRAMMYs were even set to take place the weekend before the Super Bowl, possibly adding more fuel to the fire. However a recent COVID scheduling change moved them back to March, meaning the sting might be lessened when it comes to any statement The Weeknd might have been planning.
"I don't like to spoon-feed the audience,” the performer shared during his pre-game presser. "Hopefully they can pick up some of their own theories and conclusions of what the show is saying and the story I'm telling from the performance."
"Man, the whole thing is a surprise," Collins said of The Weeknd's upcoming performance. "I think there's a lot of stuff happening in the show that people aren't going to expect. And I it's just going to be fun. It's so perfect."
"We started creating this thing back in September. And the message of it really worked out. The world worked out for the message that The Weeknd wants to communicate in this performance. It's really going to be just fun, you know? Just a little over 13 minutes to just enjoy yourself."
Whatever happens, we're sure The Weeknd will put on an amazing show -- and he's got some big, glittery shoes to fill! Last year's halftime show featured a show-stopping performance from Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, who performed a medley of their biggest hits during a stunning stage show that featured epic costume changes, intense choreography, a stripper pole and plenty more!