Traditions Broken at 2021 Superbowl Halftime Show

Photo Courtesy of CTV News

By Angela Hickey

The Superbowl Half-Time Show is one of the largest performance opportunities of the year. This year the honor of performing went to popular musician, The Weeknd, who was able to complete his decade-long trip from anonymous producer to the heights of pop-stardom when he headlined the halftime show at Super Bowl LV.

Contributing $7 million of his own money to the performance, the set began with his popular hit, “Starboy,” in the stands backed up by a dancing choir and backlit by a heightened version of the Vegas Strip. 

The pop-star jumped between his various albums while in constant motion, going around his many sets accompanied by his masked backup dancers, all adorned in similar red glittery blazers. Influenced by Michael Jackson’s 1993 Super Bowl performance, he filled his performance with blinding lights and complex pyrotechnics to create a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience for viewers across the country. 

Maneuvering around the complications caused by the ongoing pandemic, the production of the halftime show this year bred its own difficulties compared to years previous.

According to an article done by The New York Times, the crew went to great lengths in order to avoid transmitting COVID-19, including the implementation of daily nasal swabs to frequent handwashing, which meant the bathroom trailers used three times as much water as they did at Super Bowl LIV in Miami last year.

For the last two years popular rap-artist, Jay-Z, has organized halftime entertainment as a part of a partnership between the NFL and his company Roc Nation; that partnership has coincided with a more open embrace of politics as a part of the show. As seen in previous performances, such as Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s halftime performance last year, their performance shed a spotlight on Puerto Rico all while highlighting the issues surrounding various immigration policies in the U.S. Despite this, this year’s performance was free of political commentary.

Prior to The Weeknd’s performance, NFL Commercial advertised a $250 million commitment to combat racism. 

“While the season might be over, our commitment to social justice is not,” read the advertisement.

Although not traditionally known for his activism, The Weeknd has made many statements in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement, even donating $500,000 to Black Lives Matter, National Bailout, and famous former football player and activist, Colin Kaepernick’s, Know Your Rights Camp. When he won Video of the Year at last fall’s MTV Video Music Awards, he accepted his trophy with a sober speech that sent condolences to the families of Jacob Blake and Breonna Taylor.

“The pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and the tensions of the election have mostly created a sense of gratitude for what I have, and closeness with the people near me,” he said in a December interview with Tmrw magazine

Despite being the only performer this year, the show was still memorable, sparking the audience’s attention and illuminating the nation’s interest in this rising star. 

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