The Weeknd blew the crowd away with a Super Bowl halftime show that preserved all the unnerving neon vibes of his hit 2020 song “Blinding Lights,” which means it was mission accomplished for a chart-topping artist who, according to his manager, spent $7 million of his own money to make sure the performance was everything he wanted it to be.
In a profile for Billboard Magazine published two weeks ago, The Weeknd’s manager, Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, said that the artist ponied up the extra cash — halftime shows usually have a budget of roughly $10 million — to make sure the show was just right.
“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 added.
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And indeed, the show was designed with TV in mind, including a segment where The Weeknd retreats into a brightly-lit hall of mirrors to sing “Can’t Feel My Face” while the camera spins around him and he is swarmed by backup dancers wearing the red-and-black suit and bandage masks the singer made famous in the eerie music videos he created to support his latest album, “After Hours.”
The singer, born Abel Tesfaye, also took advantage of a Tampa Bay stadium that was less than entirely full by setting up an elaborate set in one of the venue’s upper sections — though the finale included the star and his army of backup dancers marching across an otherwise empty field.
Though the artist was infamously snubbed in the nominations for this year’s Grammy Awards, he’s already planning a world tour for when the pandemic ends, with six dates already sold out.
According to Billboard, he’ll easily make back that $7 million he invested in the Super Bowl, as he’s set to make an average of $1.3 million per show on his upcoming tour. Meanwhile, the artist has seven songs currently listed in the iTunes top 30, with “Blinding Lights” still at No. 1 a year after it was released.