The greatest sporting spectacle on earth has passed us, and while most football fans (excluding those of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) are giving negative reviews of the actual game, reactions to R&B star The Weeknd’s halftime performance have been mixed.
Some have said the performance was confusing and strange, while others believe it to be one of the best halftime shows ever, or at least in recent memory. You can consider me as a member of the latter group.
To start, I have been a fan of The Weeknd since 2015. While that is certainly not from his beginning as a mysterious underground R&B singer from Toronto in 2011, I was relatively early to The Weeknd’s work and quickly introduced myself to the trilogy of mixtapes that powered his rise to prominence.
This background gives me an appreciation for The Weeknd’s rise to popular stardom, and more of an appreciation for his halftime performance. For those that follow his work, he truly has a generational voice. Many comparisons to Michael Jackson have come up throughout his career, and I definitely think he is worthy of such praise.
The most unique aspect of The Weeknd’s fame is that he never has chased it. His identity as Abel Tesfaye wasn’t realized until after his music began mesmerizing fans. Most of his hit songs weren’t made to be hits. He simply makes good music, and more people have flocked to it as time has gone by.
As for the actual show, I found it a relieving change of pace. In most recent cases, the Super Bowl Halftime Show has been a mix of washed up, bland current pop stars who only get to play two of their hits due to an overcrowded stage.
With The Weeknd, we got one artist who is a distinct leader in a specific genre, playing hits and fan favorites over the course of a budding career. The Weeknd’s best days are ahead of him, not behind him. Yet, he had enough to fill the full set by himself.
The Weeknd is also more than just a singer. His creative persona that powered his latest chart topping album “After Hours” was on full display. He even spent millions of his own money to make sure his creative vision could be met. Everything from the choreography to the set was in-step with the visuals of “After Hours”.
While most artists use the halftime stage as a victory lap, The Weeknd was able to capitalize on the opportunity to make the show a celebration of past success and a look into his bright future.
I understand the complaints from the older generation that are unfamiliar with The Weeknd. However, good art transcends generations. Icons like Elvis and The Beatles were unpopular amongst the older generation of their days.
At some point, the artists Generation Z grew up listening to deserve their recognition. The Weeknd was a leading artist of this group, and more than deserved the opportunity to perform.
While pop had its day in the 2010’s, Hip-Hop and R&B are clearly the leading genres of music today. To see a leader in the genre performing solo on the halftime stage without being watered down by a pop band was awesome.
I understand some of the arguments against The Weeknd’s halftime performance, but most of the complaints being made are just that, complaints. For fans of music, specifically fans of Hip-Hop and R&B, this performance deserves to be considered as one of the greats.