In a spectacle that started in the stands, then went inside the stadium before taking over the entire field, The Weeknd performed a high-octane medley of his hits during the . While things seemingly went off without a hitch, the Grammy-winning artist still grabbed lots of social media attention.
He was the sole performer.
Twitter users immediately went to work creating memes and comparing various aspects of the set to one another — from the back-up dancers looking like robots in the stands to the gold room in which The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, sang his hit song “Can’t Feel My Face,” to the bandaged dancers who took over the entire field for the finale.
The R&B singer’s set continued his “After Hours” character’s storyline. It started off with Tesfaye in a sparkly red jacket — continuing the imagery inspired by his “After Hours” character and previous awards show performances — backed by a large choir with glowing eyes. While many considered it creepy, the sequence also resulted in memes of Star Wars’ Jawas and C-3PO:
At one point, Tesfaye seemed to go inside the stadium, weaving through a golden maze of mirrors and performing a dizzying sequence. More memes and comparisons poured in:
Toward the end of “Can’t Feel My Face,” The Weeknd was joined by dancers identically dressed except for the bandages on their heads. He made his way out onto the field turning what would’ve normally been a space full of fans into one big dance party. As his hit song “Blinded by the Lights” started playing, the backup dancers created even more fodder for social media, with many tweeters wondering whether the artist was trying to make a statement, including former Surgeon General Jerome Adams:
Others provided more pop cultural references:
Mummies were invoked:
And other characters:
The Weeknd spent $7 million of his own money — above what the NFL shelled out — to produce the halftime show. The league also released a live visual album featuring the whole set, along with the pre-game performances of “America The Beautiful” by H.E.R. and the “Star Spangled Banner” by Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church.