N.F.L. Announces the Weeknd for Its Super Bowl Halftime Show

The Weeknd, the Canadian pop celebrity, has been selected to play the halftime display on the Tremendous Bowl in Tampa, Fla., in February, a efficiency that can face demanding situations as a result of pandemic restrictions.

“All of us develop up gazing the sector’s greatest acts taking part in the Tremendous Bowl, and one can handiest dream of being in that place,” Abel Tesfaye, who is understood professionally because the Weeknd, stated in a observation. “I’m humbled, venerated and ecstatic to be the middle of that notorious degree this yr.”

The choice of the 30-year-old singer is consistent with the N.F.L.’s fresh makes an attempt to draw a much broader target market via pivoting from vintage rock acts ruled via white musicians to artists with massive social media followings who’re well liked by more youthful lovers and folks of colour.

The Weeknd has had 5 No. 1 hits, together with “Can’t Really feel My Face,” produced partially via the Swedish pop mastermind Max Martin, and “Starboy,” created with Daft Punk, the French dance-rock duo.

It’ll be the second one Tremendous Bowl halftime display produced partially via Jay-Z and Roc Country. “The Weeknd has presented a valid all his personal,” Jay-Z stated in a observation. “His soulful forte has outlined a brand new era of greatness in track and artistry.”

The N.F.L. recruited Jay-Z in 2019 to help orchestrate musical performances for marquee games, most notably the Super Bowl, after artists across the music industry said they would not work with the league to show solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback. Kaepernick began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before games to protest police brutality and racial injustice, and has not found work in the league since 2016.

Tesfaye has publicly supported Kaepernick. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing in police custody, he donated $200,000 to Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp Legal Defense Initiative, showing receipts to his 2.5 million Instagram followers. He has also been a vocal advocate for wider social justice causes. In a brief acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards in August, he said simply: “It’s really hard for me to celebrate right now and enjoy this moment, so I’m just going to say: Justice for Jacob Blake and justice for Breonna Taylor.”

The N.F.L. has scaled back its plans for the Super Bowl, on Feb. 7, because of the pandemic. Last month, the league said it was likely that only about 20 percent of the seats at Raymond James Stadium would be filled.

In most years, the halftime show is set up by hundreds of people who run onto the field to build the stage. Then hundreds of fans, chosen in advance, typically rush out to the stage to cheer.

The N.F.L. has not indicated how it will stage the show. Roger Goodell, the league’s commissioner, has said the league will work within the safety guidelines established by the city of Tampa, Hillsborough County and other officials in Florida, as well as following their own protocols, which this season have included a significant reduction in the number of people allowed to be on the field before and during games.

After emerging a decade ago as a mysterious creator of brooding R&B, the Weeknd has found success as a pop artist with a dark, avant-garde edge. In the music video for his latest No. 1 hit, “Blinding Lights,” the Weeknd becomes a bruised and bloodied character in a red suit and black gloves, laughing maniacally as he dances to the song’s bright, pulsing synth-pop.

With an enigmatic stage persona, the Weeknd stands out for a high tenor with a strong Michael Jackson influence. “After Hours,” his latest album, held the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s album chart for four consecutive weeks this spring. He also appears in a Mercedes-Benz commercial.

As a performer, including on TV appearances like “Saturday Night Live” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” the Weeknd has tended to favor elaborate, high-concept stage settings that can easily translate into a stadium environment.

But televised awards shows have struggled during the pandemic to capture the live performances that are usually their biggest draw. At the MTV awards, where the Weeknd was the lead performer and won video of the year for “Blinding Lights,” and at the Billboard Music Awards last month, artists appeared on soundstages without an audience. On Wednesday night, the Country Music Association Awards, in Nashville, featured a socially distanced but largely unmasked live audience that consisted mainly of the show’s performers, including Maren Morris, Eric Church and Chris Stapleton.


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