The Weeknd has had a very busy February. Not only did he headline the Super Bowl halftime show, but he also released a greatest hits album, announced a new world tour and announced a new, upcoming documentary.
Abel Tesfaye, also known as The Weeknd, released his incredibly popular studio album ‘After Hours’ in March 2020. In the lead up to its one year anniversary, Tesfaye hasn’t slowed down. He’s instead constantly grown as an artist and performer with new content seeming to drop every other day.
‘The Highlights’, released on Feb. 5, features a compilation of The Weeknd’s greatest hits from the past decade of his music career. Some of the 18 songs from the album include “In Your Eyes”, “Heartless”, “Starboy”, “Can’t Feel My Face” and “Wicked Games”.
Two days prior to the release of ‘The Highlights’, Tesfaye announced a new 2022 ‘After Hours’ world tour. The tour is scheduled to launch in Vancouver on Jan. 14, 2022, and end in London on Nov. 16, stopping in 19 countries along the way.
The Weeknd also performed at the Pepsi Super Bowl LV halftime show on Feb. 7. The halftime show, considered by many to be reserved for the best of the best, highlighted Tesfaye’s growth on the biggest set on television. Pepsi sponsored the Super Bowl this year, investing a lot of money into the 13-minute halftime show. But even Pepsi’s investment wasn’t enough for Tesfaye.
“Abel spent almost $7 million of his own money beyond the already generous budgets to make this halftime show be what he envisioned,” Tesfaye’s publicist told The New York Post.
The show was heavily inspired by Michael Jackson’s 1993 and Diana Ross’s 1996 Super Bowl performances, which fit in well with his musical aesthetics. Though there were some naysayers, a lot of people loved The Weeknd’s halftime performance, with U.S. streams of his songs seeing a 41% increase afterwards.
“I think his performance was stellar. One of my favorite things about the show was all of the backup dancers,” Jennah Eddins, a recent graduate from the University of Southern Mississippi, said. “I also thought it was very cool and creative how all of the dancers were able to wear masks, and it went with the costume.”
Others noted that the halftime performance hints at what The Weeknd has in store for the future and what his upcoming tour will be like.
“He’s so unpredictable as a performer. He’s definitely a musical artist, but I also think he’s a true performer. The fact that he paid out of pocket for the perfect performance proves that,” long-time fan Jacob Brannon said. “He [Tesfaye] easily stole the spotlight. I feel like if this is only his money, imagine his label supporting him in concerts. This is just a fraction of what he will display on tour.”
In an interview with Billboard, Tesfaye explained his team struggled to work around COVID-19 restrictions. Since there was a reduced amount of people at the show, the crew built the stage in the stands of the arena to ease speedy transitions.
“We’ve been really focusing on dialing in on the fans at home and making performances a cinematic experience, and we want to do that with the Super Bowl,” Tesfaye said in an interview with Billboard.
But that’s not all. Showtime also recently announced a new documentary about The Weeknd’s Super Bowl performance titled “The Show”. Pepsi’s in-house content studio and production company, Boardwalk Pictures, is producing the show, and Nadia Hallgren, who previously worked on the Michelle Obama documentary ‘Becoming’, is directing. The 90-minute film will show behind-the-scenes footage of the making and production of The Weeknd’s Super Bowl performance, and it will be released later this year.
“The Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show is undoubtedly the world’s biggest stage, producing the most viewed and talked about moment in music every single year. The pressure to deliver an iconic, memorable and entertaining performance is felt well beyond the artist, as there are a number of people – behind the scenes – who are vital to its success,” Todd Kaplan, VP of Marketing Pepsi, said in a Variety interview. “With our new documentary coming to Showtime, we are taking fans on the emotional and thrilling journey of what it takes to make the biggest show of the year – with the added complexity of doing so amidst a global pandemic.”
It seems that The Weeknd is unstoppable right now, and no one knows where the rest of the year will take him.