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"If he's not in a fringed bikini on a giant pole, is it even a halftime show?" Elizabeth Banks tweeted, referencing Jennifer Lopez and Shakira's buzzy 2020 performance.

By Rachel Yang
February 07, 2021 at 10:17 PM EST
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Heading into Super Bowl LV on Sunday, there was a lot of speculation and anticipation over the Weeknd's halftime show. He made headlines for putting $7 million of his own money into the show, and for being the first artist since Lady Gaga in 2017 to not incorporate any guest stars in a halftime performance.

the weeknd
Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Weeknd made his entrance at the top of the stadium, with an elaborate Vegas-themed set featuring a choir and violinists serving as background. He sang past hits like "The Hills," "Can't Feel My Face," and "Earned It," before he and a crowd of his bandaged-up doppelgängers took the field. The Weeknd capped things off with his recent hit "Blinding Lights" and fireworks decorated the sky above the stadium.

So did he meet fans' expectations?

Well, sorta. The performance didn't enjoy universal acclaim, with some viewers saying they struggled to hear the singer's vocals on TVs, and there were the inevitable comparisons to Jennifer Lopez and Shakira's buzzy showcase last year.

the weeknd

"I'm reserving judgment of @theweeknd but if he's not in a fringed bikini on a giant pole, is it even a halftime show?" Elizabeth Banks tweeted, referencing Lopez and Shakira's performance in 2020.

Queer Eye's Karamo Brown seemed to agree, tweeting, "Just like every #Weekend in 2020 we all prayed it would be fun & exciting but we were all left in our house's feeling disappointed and unfulfilled. #Justsayin 🤷🏾‍♂️"

However, many others, like Drake and Dionne Warwick, applauded the artist's vision.

"Well done @theweeknd. Loved the set and pyros. You looked and sounded great! A Big Hug and Loud Applause!! #SuperBowl," Warwick wrote. The two had previously exchanged hilarious messages on Twitter, when the legendary singer roasted his incorrectly spelled name.

Drake, the Weeknd's frequent collaborator and fellow Toronto native, showed his hometown pride. The rapper didn't make an appearance in the performance, but he still made his mark on the Super Bowl with a funny State Farm ad that also featured Paul Rudd, Aaron Rodgers, and Patrick Mahomes.

On Sunday, Drake posted Instagram Stories of him watching the Weeknd's performance. He captioned one video, "Big moment for the city !!!!"

Vanessa Carlton and Olivia Munn were among watchers who tweeted that the Weeknd's performance made them excited for live shows again.

"This is an amazing half time show and I need to go to a club and cry dance to The Weeknd every Tuesday night for the entirety of 2022. I mean that was brilliant!" the "A Thousand Miles" singer posted.

And of course, there were the memes. Many fans were amused by the Weeknd entering a funhouse mirror-like setting during his show, and it reminded some of them of his appearance in the similarly chaotic Uncut Gems. Some viewers like Questlove also clocked the R&B star's nods to Michael Jackson and Diana Ross' halftime shows, but other audiences made connections to other works, such as Jordan Peele's Us, given the Weeknd's red suit and the face bandages worn by his dancers.

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