Watch The Weeknd's Super Bowl 2021 halftime show in full
The Weeknd performed songs including Blinding Lights, Starboy and The Hills.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
The Super Bowl transcends football. Some people who didn't care about watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom "Big Coat" Brady battle reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs and QB Patrick Mahomes tuned in just for the halftime show by Grammy Award-winning singer The Weeknd. They got a special effects-heavy spectacle that included hit songs like The Hills, Can't Feel My Face and Blinding Lights and drew mixed reviews from fans.
The Weeknd didn't sport the bandages and bloody face makeup he's worn in some recent appearances, though a field full of dancers did wear mummy-like face wraps. His set stretched from the stands on to the field, and included a mirror-filled sequence that made it look like he was singing in a carnival funhouse.
Before the game, The Weeknd said he was psyched to perform.
"We all grow up watching the world's biggest acts playing the Super Bowl and one can only dream of being in that position," the singer said in a statement. "I'm humbled, honored and ecstatic to be the center of that infamous stage this year."
Ready for The Weeknd: Who is he?
Born in Toronto to Ethiopian immigrant parents, The Weeknd (real name: Abel Tesfaye) began his career the 21st century way -- uploading songs to
back in 2010.
According to Grammy.com, he chose his stage name because he dropped out of high school and left "one weekend and never (came) back home." His stage name is missing an "e" because there was already a Canadian band known as The Weekend.
He's since won three Grammys, eight Billboard Music Awards, five American Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards and nine Juno Awards. He's appeared as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live three times. His last SNL appearance came in March 2020, just before the pandemic locked most things down. In that show, he startled audiences with his bandaged face, but the look was part of the act.
He didn't wear the bandages in the Super Bowl show, or in a 30-second ad for his halftime performance. In it, he's dressed in an all black outfit, complete with leather jacket and shiny shoes, and seen walking through a stadium tunnel toward the field.
In a 10-minute press conference, The Weeknd confirmed he's put his own money into getting just the Super Bowl sets he wants. Although game organizers cover all production costs, the singer put up $7 million to "make this halftime show be what he envisioned," his manager told Billboard.
Previous Super Bowl performers have included special guests in their show, but as befits a social-distancing year, The Weeknd didn't have any other artists join him.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, new health and safety guidelines are in place for the entire event. Tampa's Raymond James Stadium normally holds more than 65,000, but due to pandemic restrictions, only about 25,000 fans attended the game, including 7,500 vaccinated health care workers who've been given free tickets.
And fans are socially distanced in "seating pods," People magazine reports. They'll also need to wear masks, will receive free hand sanitizer and will pay for food or souvenirs with contactless pay options.
How to watch
The Super Bowl aired on CBS on Sunday, Feb. 7, at 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. PT), and was livestreamed for free on the CBS Sports app, across mobile devices and on Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. The NFL and Yahoo Sports mobile apps also all streamed the game for free on phones and tablets.
CBSSports.com streamed the game on its website without requiring any pay-TV authentication. Mobile apps for CBS Sports, the NFL app and Yahoo Sports also streamed the game for free on phones and tablets.
Those looking to watch on a TV were able to do so with the CBS Sports app on Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. Other options include AirPlaying from an iOS device or Chromecasting to an Android TV or Google Chromecast streaming dongle from an Android phone or tablet. If all that didn't work, there was always the option to plug a computer into your TV's HDMI port.
After the game, Verizon presented Big Concert for Small Business, a livestreaming musical event hosted by Tiffany Haddish and featuring artists such as Alicia Keys, Brandi Carlile, Christina Aguilera, Luke Bryan and Miley Cyrus, in addition to more from H.E.R., Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church.
The concert streamed on Verizon's Twitter, TikTok, Twitch and YouTube channels, as well as on Yahoo, Fios and iHeartRadio, beginning after the game at 8 pm PT. Organizers encouraged fans to make a $10 donation to support small businesses by texting SMALLBIZ to 20222.
CNET's Matt Elliott and Eli Blumenthal contributed to this story.
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