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The Weeknd promises to "keep it PG" for Super Bowl LV halftime show

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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The Weeknd has promised a family-friendly but still provocative performance for his halftime show at Super Bowl LV Sunday, Feb. 7, in Tampa, Fla.

During a brief press conference Thursday morning, Feb. 3, the chart-topping Canadian pop star indicated that his 12-minute segment would not be quite as bloody as the music videos for songs from his 2020 album "After Hours." "I definitely want to be respectful to the viewers at home," The Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye), dressed in a black suit and tie, said. But he added that the performance would be in line with the narrative he's been forwarding through the videos, and in award show appearances as well.

"I will still incorporate some of the storyline," he noted. "It's a very cohesive story I've been telling throughout this year. The story will continue, but we'll keep it PG for the families...I don't like to spoon-feed the audience. Hopefully they can pick up some of their own theories and conclusions of what the show's saying and the story I'm telling in the performance."

The Weeknd's progressively gorier videos have included a bloody, cut-up face for "Blinding Lights," a decapitation during the "In Your Eyes," his head's reattachment onto another man's body in "Too Late" and plastic surgery that goes terribly wrong in "Save Your Tears." He recently explained to Variety that, "The significance of the entire head bandages is reflecting on the absurd culture of Hollywood celebrity and people manipulating themselves for superficial reasons to please and be validated.

"It's all a progression and we watch The Character's storyline hit heightened levels of danger and absurdity as his tale goes on."

The Weekend wasn't giving much else away about the planned show, however. Having put several million dollars of his own money into it, he and producer Jesse Collins revealed that much of the performance would take place in the stands as well as on the field, but because of COVID-19 restrictions there will not be a centralized stage. "We wanted to kind of do something we've never done before," The Weeknd said, adding that he would be incorporating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' pirate ship "a little bit."

Collins, meanwhile, promised that "the show will be unlike any other, just like this entire year hasnít' been like any other....The challenge has also created an amazing opportunity for us to put on a live halftime show...to help translate The Weeknd's unparalleled vision."

This year's halftime show is the 10th to be sponsored by Pepsi Co., and the second produced by Jay-Z's Roc Nation.

During Thursday's session The Weeknd also revealed that his own favorite Super Bowl halftime performance was Diana Ross during Super Bowl XXX in 1996 in Tempe, Ariz., which featured a medley of her hits, with the Supremes and solo, and a helicopter departure from the stadium.

"She's just so glamorous," The Weekend said, "I watched hers over and over again, and the show just makes me smile. She has a great exit on the helicopter. It lands in the middle of the field and she grabs onto it and flies into the clouds. I wish I could've done that...I wish I had thought of that, actually.

"I loved Prince's obviously, (and) Michael Jackson, Beyonce. They're all amazing. But Diana Ross is definitely my favorite performance."

The Weeknd has promoted his Super Bowl appearance with a pair of commercials, and he'll be releasing a compilation album, "The Highlights," on Friday, Feb. 5 to coincide with the show. This week he also announced a 104-date After Hours World Tour for 2022 that begins Jan. 14 in Vancouver and includes concerts scheduled for this year that were postponed by the pandemic.

His Detroit stop, originally slated for June 24 at Little Caesars Arena, will now take place Jan. 27. Tickets will be honored for the new date. Those wishing refunds can receive them from the point of purchase through March 4. More details via 313Presents.com.

Web Site: www.313Presents.com

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