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Super Bowl 55 halftime show review: The Weeknd goes solo, leaving no one else to blame

Maybe the Weeknd needed another day or two to put it all together.

The artist, who’s largely known for his dark R&B style, is a multiple-time Grammy Award winner, so it seemed like a slam dunk, a no-brainer, a home run when he was announced for the Super Bowl 55 halftime show late in 2020.

MORE: Best, worst reactions to Weeknd’s performance | Watch the show

For the most part, the show was unique and high-energy, but it wasn’t received as well as it probably should have been, especially when one considers the Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye) put up $7 million of his own money to make the show as he envisioned it.

Part of that vision was a stage in the stands, seizure-inducing light displays and a gaudy fireworks display at the end. 

Interestingly, the Weeknd’s performance was entirely solo, the first time that has happened in quite a bit: While he had an entire orchestra and a field’s worth of dancers with him, there were no guest appearances, though several names were rumored for a spot next to him. 

Not surprisngly, not everyone was in love with the performance. The response to the Weeknd’s halftime show was very much mixed, at least according to the tweet machine:

Production was great. Performance? Not so much.

— REGGIEOnTheMOVE™ (@ReginaldLBarnes) February 8, 2021

I love The Weeknd. I really do.

But this is definitely a very sub par halftime show. Especially compared to other years. It’s too bad. I honestly thought it would be better.

— John R Nabors 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 (@BuzzJohnNabors) February 8, 2021

The audio for The Weeknd wasn’t great but let’s be fair. It wasn’t Black Eyed Peas bad.

— Moons are a thing! (@Lesley_NOPE) February 8, 2021

Apparently a hot take, but I liked THE Weeknd’s halftime show.

— Jerry Blevins (@jerryblevins) February 8, 2021

The Weeknd’s good but it’s been a long year, this should’ve been some elaborate medley with Beyoncé, Elton John, Willie Nelson, hologram Elvis, maybe that lady who balances plates on a unicycle, Kobayashi wolfing down hot dogs, I’m just saying we deserve a ridiculous nice thing.

— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) February 8, 2021

I loved that production and performance. @theweeknd has such great songs. Wish the NFL cared enough to do a better audio mix for it. #SuperBowl

— Eric Monacelli (@ermonacelli) February 8, 2021

That was masterful, @theweeknd. From concept to execution including multiple set designs (how big was that stage in the stands??), symbolism, art & costume design, command of the stage to the closing shot backlit by exploding fireworks, tremendous halftime show. #PepsiHalftime

— Cabbie Richards (@Cabbie) February 8, 2021

Best @NFL Halftime Show I’ve ever seen. @theweeknd absolutely blew it away. No surprise there.

Super impressive set and choreography. Can’t imagine amount of planning that went into that show, but it was worth it. It was a true cinematic experience.

Well done Abel👏🏻 #SuperBowl

— Luke Farwell (@LukeFarwell) February 8, 2021

The Weeknd was fine and entertaining and I’ll also forget it happened by 1pm tomorrow.

It can be both.

— Mikey (@fsmikey) February 8, 2021

The Weeknd was awesome and even more awesome is seeing how weirded out everyone was by it. #SuperBowl

— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) February 8, 2021

The Weeknd had to do a show for a half-empty stadium, with songs about drugs of which some were ballad-y, and it was memorable and creative and had some good visual images, and while I am not a huge fan of his the songs are not bad! It was a good effort, and good for him

— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) February 8, 2021

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