The Weeknd's Super Bowl Halftime Show Explained: The Meaning Behind the Bandages and His 'After Hours' Era
The performer brought his 'After Hours' era to the big game on Sunday!
The 30-year-old singer -- and his actual face -- was the center of attention during the set at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium, as he went without the bandages and prosthetics he sported in previous performances.
Bandages were only worn by backup dancers during The Weeknd's performance of "Can't Feel My Face" and later in his set, during "House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls."
Seeing The Weeknd's real face was a shock to some, and a relief to others.
The Weeknd's cryptic After Hours era -- from his physical transformations to his epic awards show performances -- led to plenty of pre-game speculation about what his Super Bowl performance might look like. While nearly every detail of the halftime experience was kept under wraps until the big game, the performer did speak to the violent progression of his alter ego's facial trauma -- which has transformed from a bloody nose to his fully bandaged AMA look to his most recent plastic surgery-inspired visage in the "Save Your Tears" video.
"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."
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."
Admitting that "being attractive isn’t important to me but a compelling narrative is," The Weeknd told Billboard that his halftime show would be yet another step in the saga of the man in the red suit. "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 explained.
ET's Kevin Frazier also sat down with Super Bowl executive producer Jesse Collins to get the scoop on everything Super Bowl LV, including how The Weeknd planned to use the COVID-19 capacity limitations to his advantage during the halftime show.
"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," Collins explained. "The key word is 'live,' like, we didn't go pre-tape this... It's all happening in that stadium, in that moment."
"We started creating this thing back in September. And the message of it really worked out," he added. "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."
See more in the video below!